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Extended Audio Sample The End of Your Life Book Club Audiobook, by Will Schwalbe Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (9,985 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Will Schwalbe Narrator: Jeff Harding Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2012 ISBN: 9780449806647
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“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.

Will and Mary Anne share their hopes and concerns with each other, and rediscover their lives, through their favorite books. When they read, they aren’t a sick person and a well person, but a mother and a son taking a journey together. The result is a profoundly moving tale of loss that is also a joyful, and often humorous, celebration of life: Will’s love letter to his mother, and theirs to the printed page.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A wonderful book about wonderful books and mothers and sons and the enduring braid between them. Like the printed volumes it celebrates, this story will stay with you long after the last page.”

    Mitch Albom

  • “With a refreshing forthrightness, and an excellent list of books included, this is an astonishing, pertinent, and wonderfully welcome work.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A celebration of life and of the way books can enrich it.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • Selected for the October 2012 Indie Next List
  • Nominated for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award
  • An 2012 Entertainment Weekly Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 BookPage Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 Amazon Best Books of the Year for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alice Ritchie | 1/26/2014

    " A touching tribute from a son to his mother. A lovely transition from life to death with the aid of books to ease the journey. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ryan M. Hanna | 1/25/2014

    " A must-read for anyone who loves books and the relationship between children and mothers. Loved it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tonia | 1/25/2014

    " Absolutely loved this book and highly recommend it. Will Schwalbe's mother is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. MaryAnn is a woman who had led an interesting and extraordinary life working as an actress, then at Harvard, and eventually moving into relief work around the globe. After her diagnosis, Maryann and Will start an informal mother son book club while she is going through chemotherapy. Through discussing various books, the reader gets to learn about the mother and son's shared love of books and philosophies on life, love and community. I can think of few books that moved me as deeply as "The End of your Life Book Club" did. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Ross | 1/13/2014

    " This is a book for readers, book clubs, and anyone who has accompanied a loved one on the journey through which cancer takes him/her. It brought back memories of my own mother's 44-month fight with ovarian cancer. I was able to recall the good things I shared with my family throughout that time. The book also describes how books can bind as few as 2 people into a strong community. Book lovers will devour it, then go on to search for titles that Will and Mary Anne Schwalbe shared. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 SK | 1/12/2014

    " I listened to this on a car trip by audio tape. I think it would be more fun to read, but the story is moving and inspirational. Now I want to go back through this book and get a list of all the books the mother and son talked about during her chemotherapy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 1/11/2014

    " From the title, I didn't plan to "enjoy" this book as much as I did! The author handles the time he spent living through his mother's battle with cancer in an uplifting and inspiring book. The Schwalbes spent their time discussing books in this book, while weaving in their story of the lives of a very interesting family headed by a woman who was almost too good to be true. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Janet Caskey | 1/1/2014

    " Great book! Inspirational on many levels. This was my book clubs first book. We selected it because the main focus of the book is the love of reading. I highly recommend this book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen | 1/1/2014

    " This is a beautiful true story. I just loved the relationship between Will and his mother, Mary Anne. Mary Anne lives a life that just inspires people to be their best. I just want to read so many of the books that Will and MaryAnne talked about. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lee Ann | 12/30/2013

    " Books are such a vital part of Mary Ann Schwalbe's world, after she is diagnosed with cancer, she and her son share moments in chemo discussing books. A book club for two and the relationship and bond that is strengthened through their mutual love of reading. A touching read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 IleneOnWords | 12/21/2013

    " Loved this book! For ALL readers!!!!! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Racquel | 12/18/2013

    " I enjoyed the notion that Will's mother has towards books. I too feel like they can truly convey how you feel and what you are thinking. I feel like the book focused more on Will's mother's death then the actual books they read. I would have liked to learn more about the books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Becca | 9/19/2013

    " Very powerful moments, and a wonderful tribute to an amazing woman. Unfortunately, Schwalbe never quite hooked me. I found myself skimming paragraphs to get from one great moment to the next. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathryn Mckendry | 7/22/2013

    " A great read. A book about life more than death. Very inspiring. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Goh | 6/15/2013

    " this was so magical <3 it's one of the best books i've read so far and it's so quaint and lovely and deals with cancer the same poignant way the fault in our stars does. It introduced me to so many other amazing books, and it revolutionised literature for me! :) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Trina | 6/12/2013

    " I loved this book for so many reasons. Loved sharing the authors journey through his mothers illness (not because it was joyful by any means - just because it was so poignant), loved meeting his mother in the book, and loved all the books they read and shared!!! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mdraeger | 6/2/2013

    " I really wanted to like this book. But the characters are so perfect that I had a hard time relating to them at all. There needed to be more discussion of the books with less name-dropping and superficial descriptions of their lives. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tricia | 6/1/2013

    " I thought this book was very well done. As an added bonus, I have a new list of books to read based on their discussions. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jdias | 2/5/2013

    " A touching story of a mother and son connecting thru books while she battles cancer. A book lover's book! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lyn | 12/17/2012

    " Thought it would have been better with all the hype it got. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Camille | 12/15/2012

    " Loved it. So thought provoking and insightful. Definitely recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Diana Lowery | 11/15/2012

    " although a tough topic to read about, it was a poignant book about a sons relationship with his mother "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine Keating | 11/1/2012

    " I really enjoyed it. it was interesting reading thoughts on other books "

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About the Author

Will Schwalbe has worked in publishing as senior vice president and editor in chief of Hyperion Books; digital media, as the founder and CEO of Cookstr.com; and as a journalist, writing for various publications including the New York Times and the South China Morning Post. He is on the boards of Yale University Press and the Kingsborough Community College Foundation. He is the author of Books for Living, The End of Your Life Book Club, and coauthor, with David Shipley, of Send: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better.

About the Narrator

Jeff Harding, an Earphones Award–winning narrator, is one of the most active American actors based in Britain. He is regularly seen in film and television but maintains interest in fringe theater. He is particularly active in voice-over and radio work. Having competed in rowing for many years, he still lives by the Thames and rows regularly.