The End of Your Life Book Club
That s the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne returned from a humanitarian trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan suffering from what her doctors believed was a rare type of hepatitis. Months later she was diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less.
This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a book club that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual. The issues they discuss include questions of faith and courage as well as everyday topics such as expressing gratitude and learning to listen. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world. Reading isn t the opposite of doing; it s the opposite of dying.
Will and Mary Anne share their hopes and concerns with each other and rediscover their lives through their favorite books. When they read, they aren t a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together. The result is a profoundly moving tale of loss that is also a joyful, and often humorous, celebration of life: Will s love letter to his mother, and theirs to the printed page.
- Hardback | 352 pages
- 147 x 208 x 36mm | 431g
- 02 Oct 2012
- Knopf Publishing Group
--Dr. Sherwin Nuland, author of "The Art of Aging" and "How We Die"
"Will Schwalbe's brave and soulful elegy to his remarkable mother, his recollection of their sparklingly literate conversations, is a timely reminder that one exceptional person, or one exceptional book, can be a torch in the darkness. You'll turn the last page wishing you'd met Mary Anne Schwalbe, vowing to be worthy of her incandescent example--and promising yourself to read more."
--J.R. Moehringer, author of "The Tender Bar"
"I was so moved by this marvelous book. Schwalbe has done something extraordinary: made a personal journey public in the most engaging, funny and revealing way possible. It is a true meditation on what books can do."
--Edmund de Waal, author of "The Hare with the Amber Eyes"
"This book is a passionate, purposeful and elegant guide to human existence. Living life, learning life and loving life. And ultimately, accepting life's end. Mary Anne and Will have given us an exquisite gift. For a better life, better family and better world, read this moving elegy from a gifted and loving son to an extraordinary mother"
--David Rohde, co-author of "A Rope and a Prayer"
"Will Schwalbe gives us two love stories in one: that of his relationship with his dynamo of a mother as her horizons shrink, and that of their mutual devotion to the printed word, infinitely and insistently engaging. Tender and touching and beautifully done."
--Stacy Schiff, author of "Cleopatra"
About Will Schwalbe