Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Read while home alone? absolutely
Tissues needed? yep, even though you know how it will end
Overall rating: 5 stars

Mary Anne Schwalbe is quite a woman. She traveled the world extensively to help refugees and served others in a variety of ways. She loves meeting people, taking the time to ask questions to see what she can learn. Then she is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Although her prognosis isn’t great, she doesn’t allow the disease to slow her down…much. As Mary Anne and her son, Will, wait for countless doctor’s appointments they form a two-person book club. Often they read the same books, but sometimes they read different books and find connections between them. Some books are ones either or both of them have previously read, others are soon-to-be-released copies of books they receive. Mary Anne has a unique reading method: she always reads the end of the book first. Will is pretty sure she would approve of the title of his book giving away the ending.

This could have been a morbid book—the author’s last times with his mom, sharing books—but it wasn’t. It was inspiring to read about their personal relationship and see how it grew with Mary Anne’s illness. I was also awed by all that Mary Anne did in her life—absolutely amazing!

It also could have been an awkward read—a book about reading books?—but again, it wasn’t. Their book choices were interesting. They went through a plethora of books (there’s a handy index of them in the back of the book), and there are some that I think I’d like to read, but mostly I just enjoyed their conversations about their reading.

If you enjoy discussions of books, mother-child relationship stories, or tales of a woman facing huge challenges, this is a book for you.

Fun coincidence: Will Schwalbe was the editor for Mitch Albom’s The Time Keeper. I love connections like that!

What books would you want to read and discuss with a loved one? Do you ever read the end of a book first?


  1. I think I would really enjoy this book - I'll look for a copy. Thanks for your review!

  2. This sound really interesting. You find some incredibly intriguing books!