Holly's Reviews > The End of Your Life Book Club

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
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did not like it
bookshelves: 2012-reads

The book discussions were cursory, at best. I hadn't intended to find myself reading a memoir of a parent's pancreatic cancer; call me oversensitive (and a sucker), but books like this make me FURIOUS! The author seems like a nice man and all, but what exactly is the draw for readers? It's his personal memoir and story of his mother, and it's actually really, really boring. The book club-thing is a gimmick - Schwalbe works in publishing, after all (i.e., he had connections and help getting it published). If it had been my memoir I doubt it would have been accepted:
"Hey, Mom! Let's you and me read something edgy like Pynchon or something sweet like Alice Munro before we dart off to a benefit or the symphony or to humanitarian work in the Third World - oh sorry, what? you're dying and cannot get out of bed and are in constant pain and wasting away in starvation and subsisting in a perpetual morphine haze? Have hope! Reading fiction will put it all into perspective for us!"
(So is it true that there were drug trials for pancreatic cancer treatment accepting patients in March 2009? Note to self: if you're going to get cancer, be rich and well-connected and live near Memorial-Sloan Kettering and not in BFE).
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I don't expect anyone to "like" this review, and obviously I have some unresolved issues . . . if you like the book and it's making the world a better place, then great.
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Reading Progress

October 4, 2012 – Started Reading
October 4, 2012 – Shelved
October 5, 2012 – Shelved as: 2012-reads
October 5, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-50 of 53 (53 new)


message 1: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Holly, I appreciate you honest opinion of the book! I see this is being heavily advertised, so I wanted to check out reviews. I skipped over all the "too glowing" 5-star reviews though, because I want to know what others think. So yes, I do "like" your review! This is the type of review I am looking for in a super-hyped book.


Holly Thank you.


Jolie Rolie Polie i really don't mean to be offensive, but, doesn't it seem at all EXTREMELY sad?


message 4: by Elaine (new)

Elaine Sorry for spoiling your prediction with a like. But am heartily sick of unmemorable memoirs and contrived my year as...books.


message 6: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I'm glad I saw this as the book was on my to-read list. I think it just go removed...


Holly These are interesting responses and I am thinking about them and about what I wrote. @JoRoPo(:D) I'm not offended by your question and no, I didn't find the book sad. The author works hard to be positive and goes to great lengths to describe his mother's fulfilled life. He spends pages describing her excellent medical care and then the wonderful hospice nurses and her very "good" death. It's nice that he could write this book to honor her, and I don't think he wanted it to be sad to read. But it's also not that interesting nor something most of can imagine transferring to our own loved one's diagnoses and treatment. And it's not much about books.


Heather I didn't like the book either. the mom was too perfect - like a cross between Mother Theresa and snow white. How did she find time to read with all the charity work, afternoon teas, globe trotting and bus riding?


Jolie Rolie Polie i guess she was overworked. that doesn't make it a bad book, because she was real.


message 11: by Holly (new) - rated it 1 star

Holly But it makes one wonder whether all the book-reading real. Maybe she deserved a complete biography and praise and emulation and all that, but without the "gimmick."


message 13: by Patti (new) - rated it 1 star

Patti I totally agree with you Holly! This is not at all what I expected and I agree that if he were not "in" pubishing this book would not be out there - especially with the hype that is has recieved - I thought it was an emotional book but contrived - with many political undercurrents - and I am not "feeling" the relationship with his mom - I went through pancreatic cancer with my Dad - this book is not what it is hyped up to be- it is more about "him" - at least so far - and not his mom or his relationship with his Mom.


message 15: by Jane (new) - rated it 1 star

Jane it reminded me of Joan Didion's books. Very wealthy folks who seem to want even more money so they publish memoirs.


message 16: by Holly (new) - rated it 1 star

Holly And similar to Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch.


Jolie Rolie Polie Jane wrote: "it reminded me of Joan Didion's books. Very wealthy folks who seem to want even more money so they publish memoirs."

jane, how do you know this man was being selfish: he probably felt deep pain writing about his mother's life, and i, personally think that he wrote this to honor his mother. :1


Michelle I totally agree. This book was contrived, schmaltzy and tedious. The whole book club angle was just a hook, and a weak one at that. I can't even imagine a cancer patient going through chemotherapy having the energy to read piles of books. It may have happened as written, but I'm skeptical.


Jolie Rolie Polie :( No offense, but please keep your thoughts to yourself if they are not kind. this woman, even if you do not realize you are saying it, you all are saying that this woam was overworked, and tried even when she was on the brink of death, to make time for her son, and read "piles of books"


Michelle Jolie Rolie Polie :D wrote: ":( No offense, but please keep your thoughts to yourself if they are not kind. this woman, even if you do not realize you are saying it, you all are saying that this woam was overworked, and ..."

I think this is the first time I have ever responded to someones review...and the last. Sorry to have offended you JRP. I thought this was a discussion board.


message 21: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Michelle, please do not let one person's negative comments keep you from posting. I love hearing viewpoints of those who may not have loved a book. And truthfully, I am not sure why Jolie Rolie Polie has to respond negatively to everything someone posts here.


message 22: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Jolie Rolie Polie :D wrote: ":( No offense, but please keep your thoughts to yourself if they are not kind. ..."

Actually, you should try to follow this advice yourself Jolie Rolie Polie. Why are you being critical of other reviewers? People are allowed to not like a book, and are allowed to say they do not like a book. That is the purpose of a book review...to say what you think about a book. YOU, on the other hand, are making personal negative comments about the book readers, which is not very nice.


message 23: by Holly (last edited Oct 27, 2012 07:24PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Holly I almost deleted my review early on, afraid it was eliciting attention that I never intended. But the review has taken on a little life of it's own - and is one of the few negative reviews of this book. I agree with Sheila that we should welcome all constructive opinions.


Jolie Rolie Polie sorry, i really didn't mean it that way. i'm probably being a little defensive because this woman died. i'm sorry if i offended anyone. i get a little defensive sometimes. :(


message 25: by Soph (new)

Soph Jolie Rolie Polie :D wrote: "sorry, i really didn't mean it that way. i'm probably being a little defensive because this woman died. i'm sorry if i offended anyone. i get a little defensive sometimes. :("

Aww don't feel bad Jolie!! these people are too harsh and unfriendly..trust me.


Jolie Rolie Polie thank you. :)


message 27: by Soph (new)

Soph Jolie Rolie Polie :D wrote: "thank you. :)"

Welcome :)


Jolie Rolie Polie Sheila wrote: "Jolie Rolie Polie :D wrote: ":( No offense, but please keep your thoughts to yourself if they are not kind. ..."

Actually, you should try to follow this advice yourself Jolie Rolie Polie. Wh..."


sheila, i agree i may have been a little offensive, but you don't have to be mean. that actually hurt my feelings, and nobody deserves that, i'm sorry if i hurt yours when i posted my somewhat negative comment.


message 30: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Jolie Rolie Polie, I am sorry if I hurt your feelings, but when I am discussing a book with people here on Goodreads, and I read a comment such as "keep your thoughts to yourself" I will call the person on it.

Have you read this book, Jolie Rolie Polie? If you have, why don't you post your own review on it on your own profile. I would love to read your opinion and review of the book.

But please also have the courtesy to respect Holly's opinion of this book, and the opinions of others commenting in this thread. (even if your friend Sophie thinks we are "too harsh and unfriendly"
:o)


Jolie Rolie Polie i didn't mean for anybody to, "keep their thoughts to themselves", i mean, to keep your thoughts to yourself if they are not kind, because i may have taken it the wrong way, and i really don't mean to be rude, but someone wrote, "This book was contrived, schmaltzy and tedious. The whole book club angle was just a hook, and a weak one at that. I can't even imagine a cancer patient going through chemotherapy having the energy to read piles of books", i was not trying to be offensive, it's just that this comment that was made may upset the author, or people whose families have died from cancer. im really sorry if i have offended any of you.


message 32: by Sheila (new)

Sheila When a person writes a book review, or makes a comment about a book, they should not have to worry about upsetting the author. A published author has to realize that not everyone is going to love, or even like, their book. It is ok to think a book is contrived, or schmaltzy, or tedious, or even all of the above. It is ok to say things like this about a book...about any book. It is okay to say "I can't imagine..this or that or the other" about a book. Anyone who reads a book is allowed to have ANY opinion of the book they want. I may HATE a book that you LOVE. I may LOVE a book that you HATE. It doesn't matter if the book is fiction, or non-fiction, or a memoir. Readers are allowed to have opinions, and to express them. That is what makes Goodreads so great. We get to read opinions about why someone may have loved a book. And we also get to read opinions about why someone may have hated a book. All opinions are welcome. :o)


Jolie Rolie Polie i know, i love goodreads too, and i'm sorry. i just feel this woman should be honored, and as long as nobody is saying anything bad about HER, it's okay. :o)


message 34: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Did you know her personally, Jolie Rolie Polie?


message 35: by Jolie Rolie Polie (last edited Oct 28, 2012 04:04PM) (new) - added it

Jolie Rolie Polie no, i just know people who have cancer, and they endure so much pain, and their families go through so much heartache seeing them i that pain and worry every day. :1


message 36: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Have you read this book, Jolie Rolie Polie?


Jolie Rolie Polie no, but i want to


message 39: by Stu (new) - rated it 1 star

Stu Moore I have never agreed with a review more. I hated this book, and by halfway through I hated the author and his do-gooder mother, may she rest in peace. This is not about reading books, it is about a man and his mother, who is dying. I hated hated hated it, as Roger Ebert used to say about some movies. And I love love love books!


Deborah Overton I read this book for a public library book club and I enjoyed it. I thought using books to relate to each other was a great gimmick. It would make it easier to say the difficult words you need to tell your child/mother at the end of life. It was perfect for this book editor son and Ivy League educated mom. It would have been helpful to have read the referenced books so I could relate to their dialogue. I am a feminist so I hesitate to suggest that perhaps she was irresponsible to travel to dangerous locales in her relief efforts. She points out how lucky she is to have good health coverage and money for the best health care which is why she lived longer than most with her diagnosis. Lucky,indeed, my father has spent all of their money on my mothers home health care over the last 5 years. The author does a lot of name dropping and has the feeling that most New Yorkers have that it is the center of the universe.


Dani - Perspective of a Writer What is your rating? I don't see any stars?


message 42: by Margaret (new) - added it

Margaret Mechinus I am half way through the audio book and came here to see if I should bother continuing. I am bored with the book and agree with Holly- "what is the draw for the reader?" I am getting nothing out of it.


message 43: by Holly (new) - rated it 1 star

Holly Dani wrote: "What is your rating? I don't see any stars?" Dani, I removed all the stars from my read-books a few months ago. Originally I had given this a single star.


Dani - Perspective of a Writer Okay thanks. Good to know.


message 45: by Mark (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mark Holly i did like your review. My take on it was different but actually you did capture cleverly some of the things that grated on me even though I enjoyed it more than you did but your comments make sense to me so thanks.


Shivvers Thanks Holly an struggling with this book thought I was the only one


Prudence Yes, I had expectation before reading it as Mitch Albom wrote a positive review of it. But it is indeed too boring.


Nancy I found this a beautiful, honest and meaningful book. But then, I've been there with my daughter. Could relate to so much of it!


message 49: by Angiechen (new)

Angiechen how can you be so unsympathetic towards other people's suffering?


Nancy Not everyone likes every book. That's okay. I loved it but certainly respect your view.


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