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“What are you reading?”

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. 


This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide. 

Published: Random House Publishing Group on Oct 2, 2012
ISBN: 9780307961112
List price: $11.99
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Wow. Excellent book, great tribute to a great woman. (And a great source of building material for Mt. TBR.)read more
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This was a beautifully written book. I loved reading about the books that helped him and his mother towards the end of her life. I have a firm belief in the power of reading a good book and this is a great dedication to that belief. One of my favorite reads this year.read more
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I can see why people like this book. It is unique and has many redemming qualities. Yet somehow it did not reach me on an emotional level. I couldn't warm up to this family. I found the writing to be sterile and dare I say even just a touch sanctimonious. I did enjoy reading about the many literary references and also enjoyed learning about his mother's life. Such an accomplished and interesting woman!read more
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Reviews

Wow. Excellent book, great tribute to a great woman. (And a great source of building material for Mt. TBR.)
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This was a beautifully written book. I loved reading about the books that helped him and his mother towards the end of her life. I have a firm belief in the power of reading a good book and this is a great dedication to that belief. One of my favorite reads this year.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I can see why people like this book. It is unique and has many redemming qualities. Yet somehow it did not reach me on an emotional level. I couldn't warm up to this family. I found the writing to be sterile and dare I say even just a touch sanctimonious. I did enjoy reading about the many literary references and also enjoyed learning about his mother's life. Such an accomplished and interesting woman!
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This non-fiction book chronicles the last days of a mother who is dying of pancreatic cancer.I enjoyed reading about the different books that the mother and son read during the mother's last days. I was very impressed that they managed to read so many books in such a short amount of time. I also enjoyed some of the mother's comments on the books and life in general. She seemed like a very intelligent person.Despite the somber topic, however, this is one of the most matter-of-fact books I've ever read. I might have been reading a how-to book for all of the emotion it inspired in me. Part of this was due to the mother who was so saintly that I couldn't relate to her at all. There was also a lot of annoying name-dropping by the author.
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I am putting this one aside. I hear great things, but there simply is not enough of a plot for me to stay interested right now. Moving on to other things.
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ISBN-10: 0307594033 - Hardcover $25.00Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (October 2, 2012), 352 pages.Review copy courtesy of the publisher and the Amazon Prime Program.Will Schwalbe's mother is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after having battled breast cancer years earlier. This time Mary Ann Schwalbe's prognosis is much worse. In the early days of her treatment, Mary Ann and Will find themselves discussing books - from books that they'd read to books that they're currently reading and those that they choose to read together. Of course, their discussions about books are also about the characters, the dilemmas that they face, and how best to live one's life.The End of Your Life Book Club is a lovely and moving tribute to Will's mother. Mary Ann Schwalbe is an amazing woman in her own right. We learn of her accomplishments as a young Radcliffe graduate, the first woman to head the Admissions office at Harvard and Radcliffe, and a devoted and accomplished figure in the area of Refugee rights - all of which are impressive and enough to draw you in. Mary Ann Schwalbe's other accomplishments are less easily listed but perhaps even more unforgettable. Will paints a clear picture of a woman of unconventional grace and generosity of spirit. She is determined to make a difference, to bring hope and to be a force of good - it sounds strange but when you learn about Mary Ann Schwalbe, it's hard not to see her as someone for whom doing the right thing is an essential part of her life. She is unfailingly generous to those who need help while invariably forgoing cabs for NYC buses. It's so difficult to describe what I loved about the book. I loved learning about Mary Ann and the things that moved her. Reading about her courage, her stoicism and her grace throughout her struggle with cancer was particularly poignant. As a bookworm, I found the conversations about the books fascinating as well and have copied down the list of books that Will and Mary Ann Schwalbe read.Mary Ann Schwalbe reminded me of my mother - someone who loves people, finds them interesting, and who will give unstintingly. I came to care for Mary Ann Schwalbe deeply and am grateful to Will for writing this book, for sharing these moments and memories of a woman of extraordinary courage, grace, and heart.
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