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Clif's Book World

Adventures from reading books captured within short reviews.

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

The End of Your Life Book Club by Schwalbe, Will (1st (first) Edition) [Hardcover(2012)] - Will Schwalbe

This is a memoir structured around a son's relationship with his mother during the last couple years of her life as she battled pancreatic cancer. They are both avid readers so many of their conversations revolved around the books they were reading. In the recounting of these conversations the author essentially provides mini-reviews of numerous books. There are at least 107 books mentioned. An alphabetical listing of the authors, books, plays, poems, and stories discussed or mentioned in the book is contained in the Appendix. Here's a LINK to a listing of the books. Wow, what a list!

This book touched me in two different ways. On the one hand I could identify with the issue of a death of a family member because I have experienced it myself. Additionally, I'm a fan of short book reviews that leave me wanting to read the book, and this book is filled with those. 

At first thought one might think these two themes are odd partners. But really, if you're dying what do you want to talk about? What better way of experiencing multiple life times before dying than to read books. 

Actually, it has occurred to me that reading books if carried to an extreme is equivalent to a drug addiction. I don't advocate that, but in moderate amounts reading books can be a way of providing thoughts and experiences that can be shared and discussed with friends and family. Thus, books can be a means of life enrichment by improving interpersonal conversations. This is why I believe book clubs and reading groups can be a marvelous enhancement to one’s life. Of course sharing with others on Goodreads.com is part of this as well.

Now, regarding the theme of dying that is contained within this book. The depiction of getting ready for death in this book is almost too good to be a reasonable example to hope for one’s self. The author's mother dies with the knowledge that she has many friends and family. Her husband, three children, their spouses, and her numerous grandchildren were all happy, healthy and loved by her. Furthermore, she has nearly two years of knowing about her fatal illness in which to say goodbye. She and her family have adequate financial means to access the best of health care and to travel as needed to visit each other. We can't all wish for such a picture perfect end.