Friday, March 22, 2013

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

This is the true story of mother and son and the books they discuss and she undergoes treatment for terminal cancer. The mom is a superwomen who raised three kids, worked for Ivy League schools and devoted her life to the plight of refugees around the world. 

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

The following quote pretty much sums up the book:

"They (books) help us talk.  But they also give us something we all can talk about when we don't want to talk about ourselves." (58)

"Throughout her life, whenever Mom was sad or confused or disoriented, she could never concentrate on television, she said, but always sought refuge in a book. Books focused her mind, calmed her, took her outside of herself; television jangled her nerves" (25)
-me too:)

"It was as if you were critiquing a restaurant based on the decor, while she was talking about the food." (41)

"I often forget that other people's stories aren't simply introductions to my own more engaging , more dramatic, more relevant, and better told tales, but rather ends in themselves, tales I can learn from or repeat or dissect or savor" (50)
-I am so guilty of interrupting people-it drives my husband CRAZY!    So I took this to heart.

..."he wore his learning so lightly and had such curiosity about other people that he had the ability to make everyone around him feel smart and well-read." (56)

"Secrets..rarely explained or excused anything in real life, or were even all that interesting." (58)

"If you want to work outside the home, you should.  if you can afford not to and you don't want to, then you shouldn't." (72)

"The world is complicated.  You don't have to have one emotion at a time." (88)

"Do you want me to ask how you're feeling" (99)
-I think this is great advice for dealing w/ someone with a serious illness.  

"But I don't entirely approve of people who get advance degrees and then decide to stay home.  I think if society gives you the gift of one of those educations and you take a spot in a competitive institution, then you should do something with that education to help others."  (246)
-What do you think of this? I think it's stupid to take out hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans to pay for a degree that you don't plan to use, but   I don't think any education can ever be "wasted".  

I read this book over several weeks.  It's just not the type of book that you devour in one or two sittings, but there is a lot of wisdom and insight and it is worth your time.  4 stars


  1. I get so upset when reading about mothers who die but I think this concept for a book club is intriguing and a way to connect.

    That brings the question: which book would you want to read again if it was the end of your life?

  2. I have 5 pages of notes about this book in my reading journal. A GOODIE! Some of them are the same as yours . . . .

    My own (short ones)!!!

    Pg 168, "I think the other people who are really brave. . . . (when told she was brave, but didn't think so) are people who take unpopular stands."

    pg 192, "The greatest gift you can give anyone is your undivided attention."

    pg 192, "You can't stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf."

    pg 211, "Gratitude isn't what you give in exchange for something; it's what you feel when you are blessed."

    Pg 212, "Just by giving friendship and love, you keep the people around you from giving up."

    The thing I love about books is that it gives the people who have read them something in common to talk about . . . . . . Book Club!!!!

    1. So many great quotes- I got lazy after awhile. I wish I had my own copy and not the library's, so I could have highlighted them.

    2. Ahhhhhh. I was lucky to have an e book. I just highlighted and then transferred it all to my book journal when I had some downtime.

  3. Such great quotes! You've convinced me to read it. Eventhough I usually avoid cancer books. I'm pretty sure the crying will be worth it.
    P.S. I am painfully aware of how much I want to interrupt people all the time. I try not to but.....

    1. I try and tell myself that I only interrupt people b/c I am so engaged in what they are saying that I can't hold back my reply:) I thought it would be sadder, but it was really more uplifting. (Although I haven't lost a parent to cancer, so you will have a much more personal reaction) Make sure you buy your own copy so you can highlight stuff.

    2. The hold wait at the library is super long, so I'll guess I'll buy a copy!

  4. This book made me start keeping a book journal of sorts! There was so much in it that I wanted to remember. I am guilty of the interrupting thing that really stuck out to me. I had many the same as you and Tina, but here are just a couple others I liked.

    pg 81 Not feeling well is no excuse for forgetting that there are other people in the world.

    pg 94 feeling was never a useful substitute for doing

    pg 293 Everyone doesn't have to do everything, people forget you can also express yourself by what you choose to admire and support. I've had so much pleasure from beautiful and challenging things created by other people, things I could never make or do. I wouldn't trade that for anything.

    There was just a lot in the book that made me think :)

    1. All good quotes! I wish I was still part of your book club. Instead I just stalk all of you and read your books:)

  5. I was initially hesitant to read this as it sounded morbid. It is not that at all. It's a book about the relationship of a son and his mother, of books and the value they have in our lives, of terminal illness and insights on how to deal with it and how this dynamic women copes. Definitely worth a read.

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