07 April 2014 ~ 0 Comments

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

My book club chose this book. I blame them.

Don’t get me wrong, the premise of this book is so very sweet. A man forms an informal type of book club with his mother, who is at the end of her life. They trade books and they talk about them and they connect over them.

The problem? It tries too hard. It’s a little too pretentious. The author talks about books as they he is the authority on them and we, the readers, are barely worthy of talking to (or at). It just comes off as a little too much of a hoity-toity narrative to me. Add in some name-dropping and I finished this one only because it was a book club selection.

Avoid, unless you like heavy literature and name drops.

Description:
“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.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Book count for 2014: 06

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