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The End of Your Life Book Club Audible – Unabridged

4.2 out of 5 stars 1,468 customer reviews

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By Tina Says VINE VOICE on July 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This latest Amazon Vine read had me totally engrossed from its very beginning. Will Schwalbe's mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer - Stage IV cancer that originated in the pancreas and metastasized. While juggling chemo treatments she continues to lead an active life, rarely slowing down for the side effects of her treatment. Although the Schwalbe family was always a family of readers, it is the time Will and his mother spend together as she receives treatment that the two talk about books they read in the past as well as titles they agreed to now read together.
This is one of those books that made me want to highlight important points and be sure to make note of some aspects as I read. One of those is that although this book is about the books that Will and his mother read, it is also a memoir of sorts. Will's mother, Mary Ann, was an amazing woman. She worked outside the home before many other mothers did so and was a great fundraiser and humanitarian. Her most recent quest was building a library in Afghanistan. She was well traveled, volunteering in many dangerous locations, not afraid to get her hands dirty. The pride Will feels for his mother is evident, and I was also amazed by this woman's accomplishments.
Although I haven't read more than a few of the books that Schwalbe and his mother read and discuss, that did not detract from the pleasure of reading this book. If anything, it has caused me to add a few more titles to my ever-growing list.
Before you begin reading, it is evident that this will not be a happily ever after ending. Yet, The End of Your Life Book Club is not really a sad story. Will Schwalbe is able to show readers the impact of his mother's life. He was also able to show the real and lasting impact her reading had on her and her children and grandchildren. This is a beautiful tribute to the remarkable Mary Ann Schwalbe.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I usually avoid sad books like the plague- I'm a fairly sensitive person so I try to read things that won't devastate me and I despise authors that use difficult situations to either "sell" a story of manipulate the reader. However, I'm a huge huge fan of "project" books, and I love reading, so I figured I'd give "The End of Your Life Book Club" a try and stop reading if it got to be too much.

I honestly couldn't put it down- it's a really wonderful book.

The backstory is this: Will Schwalbe's mom, Mary, is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which (as the doctor says) is "treatable but not curable". Will vows to be as supportive to his mom as he can. But Mary isn't your typical middle-aged woman- this is a woman who has been on the frontlines of some of the most volatile areas on the earth, championing human rights, education, and literacy. She's also a sort of buttoned-up and reserved soul, not one to expound much on her feelings or emotions. She faces her illness with sort of a brisk honesty.

Will realizes that the best way he can support his mom, engage her, and open up the lines of communication is to share in one of Mary's passions- books. Will is a editor at a major publishing company, so he's quite a fan of books, as well.

So he and Mary begin sharing books, and every time the two see each other, they discuss the books they read. In the process, Mary begins to reveal more and more about not only her vast experiences, but also her emotions and her fears.

I've read quite a few "book project" books and many of them come across as an giant compiled Cliff's Notes of books that are read.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book had me at the title: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. Anything about reading books or about dying gets my attention - and this titled combined them! Be forewarned - this book is likely to cost you quite a bit of money. Not because of the price of the book but because you will pick up at least 8 to 10 "can't live without it" titles in it that you will HAVE to buy.

Often books about lists of books disappoint me but this one was definitely worth it. The author works in publishing, media and writing, so he knows books and literature. His mother, whom he adores, is dying of pancreatic cancer. She too was a voracious reader. They always exchanged books but in her illness they form a secret book club of two to discuss what they are reading during the long chemo sessions (he goes to most with her). Rest assured, she is not just some little wimp of a woman with cancer - she has a powerful resume: well educated, a working mother all her married life, was dean of admissions for Harvard and Radcliff, directed a number of exclusive schools and did massive (and I mean massive) humanitarian work. She lived in many places (London, Paris) and travelled the world for her causes: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa - lived in dangerous places to do her work. She was part of the founding of the IRC - International Rescue Committee (a favorite charity of mine), was shot at, starved, got all sorts of diseases from her travels but she was a survivor. Her final work was building a library with mobile units in Afghanistan. She travelled all over the US raising money and she worked on this project almost to her dying breath. And she raised a big family. And through all of this she read voraciously.
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