As everyone who reads my book review posts knows, I read a lot – at least one book a week. I like reading and talking about books and so, for many years after they became popular, I looked for a book club. I loved the thought of meeting regularly with a small group of people to discuss books we’d read. I have now found a book club, and what I learn about the books we read from everyone in my book club adds a richness to my understanding of the stories.

Because of my history of book club longing, I picked up a copy of Will Schwalbe’s The End of Your Life Book Club even though it wasn’t the newest or shiniest offering on the shelf. In this book, I learned how deeply the discussion of a text helps us to understand it, how discussing a book alters the experience into something more than we would have appreciated on our own.

The End of Your Life Book Club is Schwalbe’s account of how the books he shared with his mother during times of waiting for her treatment for cancer. We can all relate to the emotional strain of hour (or 2 or 3) spent in medical waiting rooms. This memoir of time shared that is spent in talking about books is moving. What reader cannot relate to the comfort of a good book in a time of distress?

Apart from the memoir, Schwalbe’s book provides the reader with a very eclectic book list, which is conveniently recopied into an Appendix. I do love book lists and this one will give everyone a new title or two to read. Having the booklist, however, is not enough. A booklist, as intriguing as the titles may be is dry – especially compared with the dialogues about the books contained within The End of Your Life Book Club.

If anyone reading this feels that the title is offputting, or the concept too focused on death, then I truly urge you to read this book. This is a book about the life and living unleashed in the world by books and reading.

(Note: I read the 2012 Vintage Books edition of this book.)

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