‘A heart-warming and heart-wrenching love letter; honest about illness and death, inspiring in the comfort and the lessons they took from books they read.’

The Times

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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 read E. M. Forster's Howards End (Will Schwalbe)

A book for every book lover – to remind us of the joy, comfort and companionship of books…

When New York publisher Will Schwalbe’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, he went with her to her treatments. To while away the time in the hospital they distracted themselves with talk of the books they’d read and shared and recommended and, in Will’s case, sometimes pretended to read.

But while you might pretend to a bookseller you’ve read a book you don’t pretend to your mother who is dying of cancer.  So they read and re-read and explored that particular bond of books they’d always shared.  Thus was born a very special book club with just two members: a mother and a son. The ones they choose range from classic to popular, from fantastic to spiritual, and we hear their passion for reading and their love for each other in their intimate and searching discussions.


I was so moved by this marvellous book. Schwalbe has done something extraordinary: made a personal journey public in the most engaging, funny and revealing way possible. It is a true meditation on what books can do.’

Edmund de Waal, author of The Hare with Amber Eyes

Will Schwalbe & Jamie Oliver at the launch of The End of Your Life Book Club in London, October 2012.


Read the first chapter here


Read the New York Times article Reading Together – Knowing the Ending written by Will for Mother’s Day


Watch a video of Will discussing The End of Your Life Book Club at a special Two Roads book club meeting


…and a lovely video from our colleagues in Australia



Here are some of the books that Will and his mother read and shared and loved, which we’ve been  reading  as part of our Two Roads book club: A Fine Balance, A Long Way Gone, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Brooklyn, The Year of Magical Thinking, Crossing to Safety, St Joan, Suite Francaise, The Uncommon Reader, The Last Lecture, Olive Kitteridge, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and The Price of Salt.


Tender and touching and beautifully done.

Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Cleopatra


a timely reminder that one exceptional person, or one exceptional book, can be a torch in the darkness.

J. R. Moehringer, author of The Tender Bar


Mary Anne Schwalbe was the Founding Director of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, which is affiliated with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), and founder of the IRC/UK.
 As part of her work with refugees she travelled to 27 countries, often during wartime. She spoke at conferences all over the world and received several major humanitarian honours.

She attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in 1955 and worked in the theatre for ten years.  She and her husband spent much of their time in the UK from 1976 to 2007.

Mary Anne died in September 2009.

Will Schwalbe, The End of Your Life Book Club

Photo of Will Schwalbe courtesy of Michael Lionstar

Will Schwalbe is the founder and CEO of Cookstr, a recipe site that features great chefs and authors.  He is the former senior vice president, editor in chief of Hyperion.

Prior to that he was the senior vice president and editor in chief of William Morrow.  Bestselling authors Will has worked with include Mitch Albom, Linda Greenlaw, and David Halberstam.  He is the co-author of Send a book on email etiquette.

. . .

“We write to make sense of it all.”

(Wallace Stegner, author of Crossing to Safety)


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