"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.
©2012 Will Schwalbe (P)2012 Random House Audio
"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 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, author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Time Keeper)
"Will Schwalbe's lyrical tribute to a life well-lived and a death graced with love and literature is a precious gift bestowed on all of us. What a unique and beautiful book this is, and how privileged we are to have it." (Sherwin B. Nuland, author of The Art of Aging and How We Die)
At the top of my list.
The narrator has a fine soothing voice making this audible book a pleasant listening experience.
Yes, when Will at the end read a passage about God aloud and Mary Ann smiled. It occurred to me that was her moment when she was at total peace and ready to let go.
Yes, I enjoyed learning about Mary Ann's refugee work throughout the world. I also enjoyed learning about the books Will and Mary Ann shared and discussed.
Today I finished the book and paid tribute to Mary Ann by asking by siblings if they would like me to make a charitable donation in their honor rather than buying them a gift for Christmas.
Probably not, I listened to this one because I was especially interested in the different books that Will and his mother read and discussed.
This is the only one I have read
Not at all, I could actually imagine that it was Will Schwalbe talking to me
Yes, but probably only once for me.
I think the grace with which Will Schwalbe speaks of his mother and her manner of dying is very special.
Will Schwalbe writes of his love and respect for his dying mother with honesty and candor. He also explores what literature means to us both as individuals and as a society. In the end, this book left me thinking about living and dying and how I would like to be remembered. It also left me with several additions to my reading list! The narration is perfectly pitched to the content. As others have said, this memoir is a book lovers book.
I am a miracle worker. Doing what I can to choose love over fear.
Yes: Those of them who enjoy "The help" and so on. Why? Because even if "The help" is fiction it deals with hard times without too many tears, but with knowledge. Just like the case is in this gem.
This is a memoir: Everyone!
He reads in a New york accent, just like Will and his mother.
Yes and no: The words between Will and his mom is easy to capture. The book tips: Is so important and since I do not read physical books I need to reem.-listen the tips to remember them- even if it is
If you are disabled or sick: Listen! Then start living and enjoy it.
An absolutely beautiful book. Warm, tender, funny and sad. I've just had my first listen and I know that I will listen to this book many times over. I couldn't stop listening. The narration is brilliant. Thank you.
This book wasn't what I expected when I first read about it. I thought it would be about a mother and son reading books and gleaning insight from the books that they read. I was disappointed at first. But quickly I realized that this is a story about Mary Ann Schwalbe told through numerous conversations between her and her son Will. Their conversations happen during their two person "book club" which develops as a way to pass time while she is getting chemotherapy. The insights that are revealed in this story are not from the books that they read but from Mary Ann herself. She is an amazing woman with strong commonsense convictions and worldly life experience to back it up. I ended up really enjoying this book once I got over my preconceived ideas of what it was supposed to be about. I really think this is a must read for all because not only can you learn life lessons, but I discovered many books I now want to read!
Inspirational, moving, entertaining
I liked that although the book club was the basis of the story, it was really about the relationship between a son and his dying mother. The honesty and candor with which Will Schwabe told the story made these two people and their experience very real. They became people that I wished I could meet. The courage that Mary Ann Schwabe showed in facing her illness and her impending death was inspirational. I also loved listening to which books they chose and what they found that inspired them about each of these books.
I have not listened to any other story that Jeff Harding has recorded but I will definitely look for other stories that he has narrated.
This book made me both laugh and cry. Like any relationship between two people this srory has both its funny moments and its sad, sentimental moments. It also inspired me to find out more about the organizations that she was involved with and to research her life more.
I am glad that I bought this book and that I had the opportunity to listen to this story. It reminded of some of my favorite books that I hadn't read for awhile and it allowed me to share in the time that this mother and son spent together.
Yes. I loved to hear about the books they were reading and how they impacted their life.
The strength of the family in dealing with the passing of their mother.
Sitting in the livingroom and the explanation of all the objects, people, and books in their life.
Yes. I know it is hard to lose a parent.
Well written. Loved to hear about all the books and what fascinating lives this family has.
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