To celebrate the release of The End of Your Life Book Club in paperback, the book club has gathered once more to read Howards End by E.M. Forster.

Will couldn’t be with us but he met with Lisa in New York and discussed the book over dinner in the West Village; he also sent discussion points for us to use: all we had to do was add a bit of tea and cake!

 We rated Howards End 3 out of 4 stars. Have you read it? Read our blog post and and leave a comment.

The End of Your Life Book Club book club reads Howards End by E. M. Forster (Will Schwalbe)

Read about our previous Book Club meetings below…

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In anticipation of the release of Will Schwalbe’s The End of Your Life Book Club on October 11, we launched our very own Two Roads Book Club, choosing our reading selections from some of the many books Will and his mother loved.

So far, these are the books we’ve discussed.

Crossing to Safety, Wallace StegnerCrossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

In a letter to our book group (which you can read in full here), Will Schwalbe wrote,

I’m sure you all know that feeling of falling in love with a book, and being a little sad that you’ll never be able to read it for the first time again. And I feel that particularly keenly with this book, because Mom and I read it and fell in love with it for the first time together. . . . There are storms in this novel; illnesses that strike suddenly and capriciously; tensions that arise in the friendships and marriages.  But there’s a grace too — not just in Stegner’s elegant prose, but in the way the characters deal with the cards they are dealt and the way their friendship endures.

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We rated Crossing to Safety 3 out of 4 stars. Have you read it? Leave a comment on our blog post, here.

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The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Will wrote,

There are some books where we loved everything about them but the ending. And others where we weren’t entirely board until the end – On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan was such a book. We both felt that while a good book isn’t spoiled by a bad ending (you still had all the pleasure and insight you got leading up to it), a book you didn’t quite love could become one of your favorites if the ending brought it all home. That’s how I felt about The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I hope you do too.

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We rated The Elegance of the Hedgehog 2.5 out of 4 stars. Read our blog post to find out more about what we thought. Read Will’s letter in entirety here.

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Alan Bennett, the Uncommon Reader The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

This pick was our nod to April Royal events. Will wrote,

. . . there’s something special about The Uncommon Reader, and that’s probably because it’s a book about reading, about falling in love with books, and about the worlds that book can open. If you love books, you’re pre-disposed to love this one.

We rated The Uncommon Reader 4 out of 4 stars. Read about our discussion (and overall Royal celebration) here, and let us know what you think.

Read Will’s entire letter, here.

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Brooklyn, Colm Toibin, Two Roads book clubBrooklyn by Colm Toibin

One of our book clubbers thought that the book was ‘brimming with detail’ and praised Toibin for ‘his ability to get inside a woman’s head a detail a woman’s thoughts with such accuracy.’

At the same time, however, she found the main character ‘passive and almost vacant.’ Read what Will thought, here.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you thought by leaving a comment on our blog post, here.

We rated Brooklyn 2.5 out of 4 stars.

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The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan DidionThe Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didon

In Will’s letter to our book club, Will wrote,

Mom was both dying and living. She wanted to talk about her friends and about the Afghan library and about the grandchildren and about real estate and about the books we were reading and about music and movies and the traffic and funny stories and old times and about my business and – the list was huge. I came to see great wisdom in Didion’s choice of words: ‘share’ and ‘acknowledge.’ And I realised I could share by talking about anything she wanted to discuss, or by sitting quietly with her, reading. And I could acknowledge without probing or dwelling or fixating.

Read Will’s entire letter, here.

We rated The Year of Magical Thinking 3.5 out of 4 stars.

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid, Two Roads Book Club, Will SchwalbeThe Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

In the sixth meeting of our Two Roads Book Club, not only did we have a book that had been on many of our ‘to read’ piles for years, but we FINALLY had the inspiration behind our book club, Will Schwalbe, in the room with us. Read what he thought about our meeting, here.

Read about our book group discussion, here.

We rated The Reluctant Fundamentalist 3 out of 4 stars.

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Suite Francaise Irene NemirovskySuite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

In Will’s letter to the book club, he wrote

 You can’t talk about this book outside the context in which it was written . . . So where do you even begin? I think the answer is simple: anywhere. But where do you end? That’s a more complicated question. Still, I think the answer is also simple. You don’t! This is one of those books Mom and I kept coming back to in our discussions, again and again. If it affects you as it affected us, I suspect the same will be true for you — that your conversations about this book go beyond the hours and bounds of your club.

Read about our book group discussion, here.

We rated Suite Francaise 3.5 out of 4 stars.

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Brat Farrar Josephine TeyBrat Farrar by Josephine Tey

In Will’s letter to the book club, he wrote

This is a novel that didn’t exactly have me guessing, but it was fun to see how the plot would eventually play out. In fact, play seems to be the operative word, because there’s a great deal of acting and pretending in the novel, along with lying and covering up. What’s most clever, I think, is that Josephine Tey has created a true web of lies, so that characters can’t expose one another without exposing themselves.

The Two Roads book club agreed with Will on the above. To read about our discussion, visit our blog post.

We rated Brat Farrar 3.5 out of 4 stars.

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The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey ZaslowThe Last Lecture by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow

This was a special book club, in that it was a discussion between Two Roads Publisher Lisa Highton and Will Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club. Both Lisa and Will  published The Last Lecture in the UK and US, respectively, so their discussion sat in a unique context.

Read what they had to say, here.

4 responses to “BOOK CLUB”

  1. Lizzy says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Which book is your book group currently reading from Will’s list? I would like to synchronise with you, partly because I have already read some of the books and partly because I now intend to read the list before Will’s book comes out. I am currently reading Suite Francais which I think is superb.

    Lizzy

    • Lisa says:

      Ah, you’re ahead of us. SF was actually due to be the next one. We’ve done six so far (have you seen which?). Six to go and we publish September. Here are our final 6
      SUITE FRANCAISE
      OLIVE KITTERIDGE
      APPOINTMENT IN SAMARRA
      BRAT FARRAR
      THE PRICE OF SALT
      THE PAINTED VEIL

  2. Isanna curwen says:

    Just been browsing your site and would be interested in joining the book club. Is it a remote club? (I couldn’t see any meeting dates.)
    Best regards, Isanna

    • Fede says:

      Dear Isanna

      Unfortunately the book group was set up for people in our company and it hasn’t met for a while now. I’m sure there must be a club near your home: perhaps try your local bookshop?

      Thanks for getting in touch!

      Fede

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