Inderjit (@InderjitDeogun) is an Art History graduate, an environmentalist and a loud-and-proud bookworm. When she’s not fighting against climate change, she has her nose stuck in a book. With a particular love for children’s literature, Inderjit believes a word can be worth a thousand pictures. This is her second year participating in the 50 Book Pledge. To visit Inderjit’s bookshelf click here and be sure to check back monthly for her 50 Book Pledge updates!
How do you decide what’s worth reading? Do you unapologetically follow your own tastes? Or, do you follow the crowd? I read what appeals to me. But sometimes, public buzz surrounding a book plants a seed of curiosity that my book-loving heart simply cannot resist. And that’s what happened with The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.
Buzz about the book was everywhere. But what sealed the deal was a single sentence: “The inspiring story of a son and his dying mother, who form a ‘book club’ that brings them together as her life comes to a close.” After reading that, how could I not pick it up?
For me to say that the sheer breadth of Mary Anne Schwalbe’s life left me in awe is an understatement. Here’s just a brief snapshot of who she was and what she did: Founded the International Rescue Committee, spearheaded the Kabul travelling library and volunteered for non-profit organizations in Third World countries. In short, Mary Anne was a real life Wonder Woman. Instead of using bulletproof bracelets to fight injustice she used an unwavering determination to make change which was fuelled by the belief that “[t]he important thing is to do what you can, whenever you can.”
Reading about Mary Anne’s courageous and inspiring life brought me to tears more than once. Her life not only made me reevaluate my own but also made me want to write a better story for myself. She strengthened my drive to do something that matters. Where Mary Anne’s causes are education, poverty and women’s rights, mine are the environment and literacy. Like her, these causes make me want to get up, get out and act.
What struck me just as deeply as her connection to these causes was Mary Anne’s relationship with her three children — Nina, Doug and Will. She didn’t hold them back but set them free to do and to go wherever their careers, their families and their passions took them. In fact, she demanded that they follow their dreams even when her cancer was doing its worst.
I haven’t lost a parent to cancer but I did lose my grandfather to it. Nearly three years ago he succumbed to complications associated with prostrate cancer. I saw the only grandfather I ever knew, my superhero when I was a kid, reduced to skin and bone. Having lived through it with a loved one, I thought that Will’s story would be heart wrenching. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. If anything, Will’s story lifts the reader’s spirits and allows him or her to see the possibility in their own lives and in the relationships with their loved ones. Because like Mary Anne said, “[e]ach expression of friendship or love may be the one that makes all the difference.”
“That’s one of the amazing things great books like this do—they just don’t get you to see the world differently, they get you to look at people, the people around you, differently.” The End of Your Life Book Club did that for me. And it’ll do it for you, too.
Which book in your 50 Book Pledge has had the biggest impact on you so far? Tell us on twitter with the hashtag #50BookPledge! If you haven’t joined the 50 Book Pledge yet, it’s not too late! Join here.