Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday Intro: The End of Your Life Book Club

Crossing to Safety
We were nuts about the mocha in the waiting room at Memorial Sloan-Kettering's outpatient care center. The coffee isn't so good, and the hot chocolate is worse. But if, as Mom and I discovered, you push the "mocha" button, you see how two not-very-good things can come together to make something quite delicious. The graham crackers aren't bad either. 
The outpatient care center is housed on the very pleasant fourth floor of a handsome black steel and glass office building in Manhattan on the corner of 53rd Street and Third Avenue. Its visitors are fortunate that it's so pleasant, because they spend many hours there. This is where people with cancer wait to see their doctors and to be hooked up to a drip for doses of the life-prolonging poison that is one of the wonders of the modern medical world. By the late autumn of 2007, my mother and I began meeting there regularly.
The End of Your Life Book Club
by Will Schwalbe

I started listening to this book late last week on my morning walks and really like it so far. Of course, with a first chapter titled Crossing to Safety  (my favorite novel), I would fully expect to like this memoir. Tissues will probably be necessary at some point but, a hundred pages in, I'm enjoying the book talk and have even made note of a couple of titles to investigate.

Here's a portion of the goodreads summary:
“What are you reading?” 
That’s the question Will Schwalbe asks his mother, Mary Anne, as they sit in the waiting room of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. In 2007, Mary Anne returned from a humanitarian trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan suffering from what her doctors believed was a rare type of hepatitis. Months later she was diagnosed with a form of advanced pancreatic cancer, which is almost always fatal, often in six months or less.  
This is the inspiring true story of a son and his mother, who start a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close. Over the next two years, Will and Mary Anne carry on conversations that are both wide-ranging and deeply personal, prompted by an eclectic array of books and a shared passion for reading. Their list jumps from classic to popular, from poetry to mysteries, from fantastic to spiritual. The issues they discuss include questions of faith and courage as well as everyday topics such as expressing gratitude and learning to listen. Throughout, they are constantly reminded of the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world. Reading isn’t the opposite of doing; it’s the opposite of dying. 
What do you think of the intro? Would you keep reading this book?


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

37 comments:

  1. I've heard a lot about this one...all good. But I'm not sure it is something I would enjoy.
    Today I'm featuring The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentiss.

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  2. I've also heard a lot about this one...but I had no idea it was nonfiction! I've never really wanted to read it, but I really did like the intro. I like the writing style...not as depressing as the topic.

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  3. JoAnn, this book came out when I was dealing with a similar experience with my own mother and because of that I have never been able to bring myself to read it. But the quote and summary you provide makes it sound good. And I think many people would like this book.

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    1. Sunday - I'm sorry you had a similar experience. About 1/3 in it seems realistic and, in some ways, inspiring. I especially like how books serve as the backdrop for this memoir

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  4. It definitely sounds like tissues will come out at some point but I like the writing and the whole premise is really interesting. I had heard of this book but didn't know it was non-fiction. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. This one has been on my list for a while now and I have a copy. Hoping to get to it at some point.

    Thanks for sharing it and for visiting my blog.

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  6. Wow! I love the premise and the opening lines, as well. What a wonderful way to spend time when time is running out. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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  7. I have read it. I love memoirs, so of course I enjoyed it. IF you can "enjoy" a book about the dying process.

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    1. Debbie - I know what you mean, but so far I really am enjoying it!

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  8. I really like the premise of this memoir and imagine that it is something I would like to read.

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  9. This one is on my TBR list. Now I want to add it to the Go To Next list!

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  10. Definitely one I would like to read.

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  11. This one sounds like a story with a lot of depth; I would read something like this :)

    Son of No One | Sherrilyn Kenyon

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  12. It was a sweet book, and his mother was so inspiring. Just a dynamo, even while battling cancer. It didn't make me cry...I thought the author handled the topic well...but it was endearing and there are some great book references in there.

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    1. Sandy- So far, I am very impressed... his mother is quite inspiring.

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  13. This sounds like an excellent book, but I'd have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. Sounds like there are a lot of tender scenes.
    Here's the link to my Tuesday post: SUMMERTIME.

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  14. I can't wait to read this--although I agree with you about needing tissues--but I love to talk about books, and I love to read about people talking about books. Such a great premise for a book.

    Is it a novel or a memoir?

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    1. JaneGS - This is a memoir and books give it structure... an unusual way to tell the story, but very effective. I'm impressed.

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  15. The blurb intrigues me more than the opening paragraph. Which just shows how important a blurb can be.

    Mine's at
    :http://suziequint.blogspot.com/

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  17. I'm going to be thinking about reading "is the opposite of dying" all day. I'm going to see if the library has this one.

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  18. This sounds like a book for me. Thanks for the excerpt.

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  19. Wow, talk about an emotional premise! Yep, tissues.

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  20. This sounds like a very emotional read.

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  21. I adored this audio and tissues.... yes, especially as my mom and a brother died of pancreatic cancer. The references to all the great books was so nice.

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  22. I haven't heard of this book, but it sounds interesting. I like the intro. It reads more like fiction than a memoir. Will look forward to your review. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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  23. I enjoyed this book so much, though I haven't read most of the books they discuss.

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    1. Lisa - I'm half way through now and have added several books to my tbr list!

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  24. I've seen this one reviewed quite a bit and I do want to read it. Have a nice week! kelley—the road goes ever ever on

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  25. Too many books to read! Crossing to Safety - one of my favorites as well.

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    1. Midlife Roadtripper - I know that feeling, but keep wondering how his mother must have felt knowing these choices would be among her last books.

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  26. I really want to read the End of Your Life Book Club!

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    1. Stacy - I'm half done now... very inspiring.

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  27. I didn't know Crossing is one if your fav books! I just bought a copy of it after reading this book! Now I'm even more excited to read it.

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    1. Melissa - I can't wait to hear what you think of Crossing to Safety. It's on my Classics Club list as a reread.

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  28. I loved this book! I listened to the audio and now own the print edition for a re-read.

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    1. Les - It was your review that finally prompted me to borrow it from the library... and then decide to listen, too!

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