When you operate a book blog and work in publishing, one of the questions you often get asked is, “Can you suggest a book that I need to read?” and for the last seven months, I’ve been responding by suggesting Will Schwalbe’s “The End of Your Life Book Club“.
I had an opportunity to read this manuscript back in April and I’m so glad that now all of you are going to have the opportunity to read this stunning memoir. I’m also thrilled that I can now physically put it in people’s hands to read. The role of books in this memoir is twofold, books can take you on a journey and help you escape your reality for hours at a time. However, they also have the ability to create discussion, in turn, revealing truths about who we are, who our friends are and in this case, who your parents are.Will Schwalbe’s Mother, Mary Anne was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and in an effort to discuss something other than her illness, an impromptu conversation about what they’re reading occurs and voila, ‘The End of Your Life Book Club’ was created.
It is important to note the many significant roles Mary Anne had in her lifetime. She was the Director of Admissions at Harvard, she was an Educator and she spent the last ten years of her life helping to build libraries in Afghanistan. Above all, she was a Mother to three successful children and the love and affection that Will (and I’m sure his Brother and Sister) experienced, is shared on every page of this memoir.
When Will and his Mother created the Book Club, it was special and unique, because they were the only two members.They used books to find solace in coming to terms with this life threatening disease. As noted in the book,
Books give us something we can all talk about when we don’t want to talk about ourselves.
Each of the books they read are listed throughout the memoir and I kept a pen and notebook handy to jot down books that intrigued me. They discussed character development, plots, settings and all the elements that make a novel become a staple on bookshelves. The thing that I found so special about this memoir is that Will Schwalbe was able to capture the essence of each of their conversations and share it with his readers, a quality that makes this reading experience, a cherished one.
I’ve been comparing Will Schwalbe’s writing to the likes of Joan Didion. Like Didion, he is able to capture the essence of grief and death in a profoundly moving way. “The End of Your Life Book Club” is a beautiful depiction of a Mother and Son who use books to navigate a trying time in their lives and I can ensure you that you’ll instantly be captured by its sophisticated and beautiful writing.