• randomhouse.com

The End of Your Life Book Club has one of the ickiest premises for a book I’ve seen in a long time. Will Schwalbe’s mother, Mary Anne, is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given just a few months to live. In order to pass the time at her chemo treatments, Will and Mary Anne start a two-person book club, choosing a new title to discuss every month. You don’t have to be like Mary Anne, who incorrigibly reads the end of books first, to figure out where this is going.

Just to compound the ickiness, Mary Anne is a really good person, a tireless advocate for refugees, a regular churchgoer, the sort of reader who is looking to learn from the books she reads so she can understand the world better, not only loved by her husband and children but liked by them.

Actually, she probably would have hated the sappy—and, fortunately, unwritten—version of The End of Your Life Book Club. The book Will Schwalbe actually wrote is a fitting tribute to her, both brisk and thoughtful and dwelling not on the prospect of her death, but on the life she continued to live after her cancer diagnosis.