Saturday, January 23, 2016

End of Your Life

I read a charming book, for a library book club, called The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe. He's telling us about the end of his mother's life--coming via pancreatic cancer--and the books they read together and discussed. She is a generous woman, working hard for refugees, and he is a nice guy, generous in giving us this book. It reminds us to use the time we have to sustain good relationships with loved ones, to learn about others by reading and talking, and to do what good work we can while we can. It reminds us that the loved one lives on in the books, in the shared reading experience.

I love that Will Schwalbe provides a list of the books they read together at the end, and authors they discussed or read short works by (poems, stories, essays). I've read several of the books on the list on my own or with book groups, and I made a short list of things I want to read based on what he and his mother said about them, including People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks, which I just finished last night! I enjoyed moving back and forth in time with Brooks's characters and learning about the Haggadah, book-making and art practices over time, and the lengths people will go to protect what they care about.

The End of Your Life Book Club also made me want to read Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner. But right now, I'm reading Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande, a doctor. The subtitle is Medicine and What Matters in the End. I think the answer is going to be: quality of life. But it will be nice to hear it from a doctor in the 21st century.

Being Mortal was given to me by a doctor who saw me reading The End of Your Life Book Club and also recommended to me by another doctor, who was very moved by it. I sense a transformation-in-progress in how we think about health care here in the United States, a deep reform... I want to get these two doctors together to talk about it, and I want to listen in.


SNG said...

I read Being Mortal. It is a wonderful book and very thought-provoking. The subject matter is why I am on the board of our local Compassion and Choices. Enjoy it.

Collagemama said...

I loved "People of the Book". I'm currently listening to Geraldine Brooks' "Secret Chord" on my commutes, and it's pretty powerful.

Kathleen said...

Glad to know of our shared reading experiences!!