The End of Your Life Book Club

The End of Your Life Book Club

Will Schwalbe

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 0307739783

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


An Entertainment Weekly and BookPage Best Book of the Year

During her treatment for cancer, Mary Anne Schwalbe and her son Will spent many hours sitting in waiting rooms together. To pass the time, they would talk about the books they were reading. Once, by chance, they read the same book at the same time—and an informal book club of two was born. Through their wide-ranging reading, Will and Mary Anne—and we, their fellow readers—are reminded how books can be comforting, astonishing, and illuminating, changing the way that we feel about and interact with the world around us. A profoundly moving memoir of caregiving, mourning, and love—The End of Your Life Book Club is also about the joy of reading, and the ways that joy is multiplied when we share it with others.

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we now need a book for our book club. Being an optimist, I’ve brought with me a new book by Geraldine Brooks, the author of March, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novel that invents a life for the absent father in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. It was one of Mom’s recent favorites. The new Brooks novel is called People of the Book, and I’ve managed to score two advance copies from a friend who works for her publisher. Mom has brought a book for me, too: The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly. With the

insomnia have various behavioral strategies for dealing with it. One technique involves keeping a notepad by the bed. We write down our worries—to get them out of our perseverating brains and onto paper so we can sleep knowing that they will be there, in black and white, for us to worry about when we awake, and also knowing that we’ll likely find those same worries inconsequential or even ridiculous when the morning does come. I tried that. It didn’t work. I was still awake. It was too late for

full of chemo—she’d carry it around for a few days until it was empty. The process is called a Baxter infusion; they would teach her and me how to hook it up and unhook it, though Mom could always go to the clinic and have it done there. She felt Mom’s best option was to try 5-FU, a chemotherapy that’s delivered this way, along with Leucovorin, a kind of folic acid that makes it more effective. She warned of side effects that included the return of the dreaded mouth sores, fatigue, diarrhea, and

case they could see her early, as they sometimes could. When I got to the waiting room, Mom was in her usual seat. But she looked just awful. Something had gone wrong. “Have you heard about David?” she asked me. I had so many Davids in my life, I had to ask her which one. “David Rohde, the young New York Times reporter,” she said. “My friend and fellow board member on the Afghan project.” “No, what’s wrong?” “He’s been kidnapped in Afghanistan. He was there researching his book. It’s just

works at galleries by young artists at a point in their career when a sale really made a difference. She still went to see as much art as she could, although walking around galleries was now proving too tiring. What captured her attention most as she became increasingly frail was pottery. Just as one book leads to another, so one potter had led to others; with the help of her friends in England, her love of the jolly geometric art deco work of the British potter Clarice Cliff had led her to the

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