The End of Your Life Book Club

Version: Unabridged
Author: Will Schwalbe
Narrator: Jeff Harding
Genres: Health & Wellness, Marriage & Family
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Published In: October 2012
# of Units: 8 CDs
Length: 9 hours, 30 minutes
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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. 

Reviews (2)

Written by Nancy Krehlik on June 5th, 2016

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Great book! Everyone in my book group loved it. The relationship between mother and son is truly precious and deepens as they learn through their shared reading, discussions and time spent together. The exploration of death, dying, and living is poignant. We also came away with a long list of "must reads".

Written by Pam Schuer on November 5th, 2013

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I am still deciding what I enjoyed most about this book....Could be the fact that it's about a mother and son coming together in trying times to read and learn about each other....Could also be the fact that I now have a new list of books to read thanks to their book club....Could also be the way the mother son dynamic is set up and the way the son deals with all the good and bad of watching a mother he truly admires slowly slip away.