The library’s Kiva Book Club read Will Schawalbe’s The End of Your Life Book Club this month and we had a very lively discussion. Schwalbe and his mother are readers, and as such, they relate to one another best through what they have been, are reading or intend to read. Once his mother is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, they find themselves spending hours together during chemo treatments and fall back on talking books. This NOT a book about dying as much as it is a book about living; one’s own life and vicariously living the lives of others through reading. Each chapter is the name of a book they read, but the extensive list at the back of the book intimidated most of us (voracious readers ourselves) with it’s breadth and variety. There is so much to explore in this book. We discussed family dynamics and how they may or may not dictate our reactions later in life, access to reading material and whether it should be censored for age-appropriateness, and what people “live for” when diagnosed with a serious illness. We debated whether or not we agreed with, liked or disliked characters in the book, and wondered what we might do if we were in a similar situation.
One poignant passage at the end of the book was Will’s description of his mother’s room as she was dying; with a bookshelf in sight full of loved titles, another pile that she was reading on her bedside table and a pile of “to be read” titles next to that. It made us think: What would we choose to read if we knew our time was limited? What would you?