Sunday, November 18, 2012

The End of Your Life Book Club

Oh, my, this book brought up so many emotions for me, especially in the beginning.  My mom died at the end of May this year and we had always shared books and love of reading.  Unfortunately, the last couple years of her life, between her physical health and her dementia, she lost the desire to read.  Actually, that is not accurate...she still wanted to read, but was too frustrated to try to keep reading the same page over and over and not retain what she had read.  Even in her last year, she asked to borrow The Help from me, but she never did open it up to read it. 

The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe, is the story of his mother's  (Mary Ann) last two years of life after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Mary Ann and Will had always shared their love of reading and books with each other.  As they spent increasingly longer hours together at doctor visits, hospital stays, chemotherapy, etc. they formed The End of Your Life Book Club, making what they had done for years an official thing.  Both were prolific readers and their choice of books to read together were fascinating. (Happily, the list of books is included at the end of the book)

As Will wrote near the beginning of the book:

"You could say that the book club became our life, but it would be more accurate to say that our life became a book club.  Maybe it had always been one-and it took Mom's illness to make us realize that.  We didn't talk much about the club.  We talked about the books, and we talked about our lives.

We all have a lot more to read than we can read and a lot more to do than we can do.  Still, one of the things I learned from Mom is this: Reading isn't the opposite of doing; it's the opposite of dying. I will never be able to read my mother's favorite books without thinking of her-and when I pass them on and recommend them, I'll know that some of what made her goes with them; that some of my mother will live on in those readers, readers who may be inspired to love the way she loved and do their own version of what she did in the world."

Mary Ann had a very full life.  She was an extremely active and interesting woman and continued to be through-out her illness.   The book is full of her wisdom that she passed on to Will.  And thankfully, he passed on to us.  As much as I love reading, this book made me even more grateful for the gift of reading.  It was so wonderful to read this personal journey of a son and his mother.  Thanks, Will.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a good and enthusiastic post about this title. I have been seeing it around, but hadn't picked it up yet.

Panc. cancer is a toughie to get, and so I am always happy to see a family turn it around into something more positive.

Thanks for the post.