Thursday, 23 May 2013

End of Your Life Book Club - Book Review

I am a fairly big reader and I recently read "The End of Your Life Book Club" by Will Schwalbe. I went into this book knowing nothing about it so I had no expectations. It did not take long to realize that it would not be a book that would distract me from the the thoughts of death.
It is a first person account of a man whose mother is dying from cancer. They spend the last few years of her life reading and discussing books together. The books ranged from books that I have read years ago to books I had never heard of before. They were definitely not reading the latest bestseller crime thrillers by John Grisham.

While it was a book about heavy topics, it was not a difficult read. However, despite my love of books, I did find that I started skimming through the paragraphs that listed and described the books that they read. I think it would have been more interesting if I had read all of the books the author discussed.

The book did make me want to read the "The Etiquette of Illness" by Susan Halpern. Schwalbe described it as a guide on how to talk to people with illnesses and how to approach death and dying as a caretaker or friend. I think it would be helpful to read as I try to handle social situations involving illness. I hope it says what to do in social situations for the person with the illness so I know how to talk to acquaintances (see previous post).

I thought the discussions they had about death were very interesting. The Schwalbe's mother had a very full life and spent a lot of her time traveling and doing volunteer work in or for Afghanistan with the refugee camps. I thought the most poignant section in the book was when a friend mentioned to Schwalbe that if his mother had the ability to choose her death, having to choose death in her late 70s surrounded by friends and family having lived a full and happy life, would not be the worst decision to make. It got me thinking that while we can not choose when we die, we do choose how we live.

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