In part as a personal discipline as well as a need to better organize my reflections on books I have read, I will be sharing periodic book reviews. Books connect us, frustrate us, compel us and sometimes disgust us. Thank goodness for books because they give us something to talk about and give us something to think about.
Below is a book I just finished and now wish to share a little bit with you. If you have read it, please tell me what you think.
The End of Your Life Book Club
By Will Schwalbe
A good book enriches the self. A good book enriches our friendships when we share them. I want to share with you a good book – The End of Your Life Book Club. Yes, it what you think, but do not let the title mislead you that this book is a sad, morbid tale. It is filled with hope, joy, and love between a son and his mother and we are given the opportunity to share with them in their journey.
I first came across this book listed in the New York Times as a bestseller. That does not necessarily make a book a good book, yet it never fails to get my attention. Nevertheless I passed over this book many times in bookstores as well as its steady presence on “the list.” A church member – recently widowed and a critical reader whose opinion I respect – passed along a copy for me to read. Fearing I would be “tested” on its contents I set to work on reading the book. I am glad I did.
The End of Your Life Book Club is a book club’s book. Part memoir, part book review, and part tribute, Schwalbe invites the reader to walk alongside his devotion and care to his mother Mary Ann Schwalbe. Within the first few pages we are told of his mother’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. The title of the book as well as the cancer already tells us how this will end, but this is hardly a somber story. It is a loving and at times provocative reflection on life, friendship, good books, living well and dying well.
As Will sits with his mother during her chemotherapy treatments they discuss books they are reading or want to read. It occurs to him that the waiting rooms and treatment rooms are transformed into their own book club with a membership of just two. Each chapter is titled after a book title and in a creative way serves as the narrative arch for that section. Reading this book reacquainted me with good books I have enjoyed as well as introduced me to some I need to read. The list of books they discuss or he mentions is worth the price of the book (even though my copy was donated to me!). More than just a good books list, it is a gracious journey in which we readers are privileged to share a part.
A good book is a book worth sharing. While this is no great literary achievement, it is a good book worth reading, discussing, and, like life itself, sharing.