“One of my favorite books of the season—and one of the most touching and inspirational (which sounds way smarmier than the book is)—is the true story of a son and his mother who start a ‘book club’ that brings them together as her life comes to a close. The End of Your Life Book Club ($25; Knopf), by Will Schwalbe, tells the story of the time he spent with his mother at the end of her life—his mother’s last days through the prism of the things they read together.
. . . When Mary Anne Schwalbe was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, her husband and children were actively involved in her treatment. Will started accompanying his mother to her chemo treatments. Because they were both ardent readers, Will usually started their conversations with a natural question: ‘What are you reading?’ Mary Anne underwent treatment for almost two years, so what evolved was a sort of mother-son book club.
Talking about books allowed them to talk about tough issues that they might not have otherwise been able to talk about. It wasn’t about setting a reading agenda—reading all the classics, for instance, or books on a certain subject—but just reading books they wanted to read, for whatever reason, and talking about them. Says Schwalbe: ‘Just because a book is selling zillions of copies and is enormously popular, that doesn’t mean there aren’t extraordinary things to be learned and gained from it. That education and inspiration can come from all different kinds of messengers . . . I really wanted to show how my mother and I talked about books, which is we’d talk about what was interesting to us in a book. It doesn’t have to be the best thing you ever read or the worst thing you ever read. It can just be interesting.'”—Broadway Books, Portland
Read more and buy The End of Your Life Book Club from Broadway Books or your local indie.
Each day until Christmas, the tireless booksellers at Broadway Books will post a recommendation for a great gift book (or seven!) on the store’s blog, Bookbroads. 24 Days of Books posts are written by Sally McPherson, Roberta Dyer and Kate Bennison.