When one day in 2007 Will Schwalbe happened to ask his mother what she was reading, her reply - "an extraordinary book, Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner" - was the start of something.
Mary Anne was in the waiting room of the outpatient department at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre, there to begin treatment for the pancreatic cancer which would end her life, and Will's question sparked an ongoing conversation about books which would amount to their own private book club and which would sustain them over the coming two years. As they swapped titles and shared recommendations, discussing a wide range from classic to popular, poetry to mysteries, the fantastic to the spiritual, Will and Mary Anne are reminded of "the power of books to comfort us, astonish us, teach us, and tell us what we need to do with our lives and in the world."
Will Schwalbe tells his and his mother's story in The End of Your Life Book Club. I began it this morning and very early on I started to feel exactly as Will did about Crossing to Safety: " ... at about page twenty or so the magical thing occurred that happens with the very best books - I became absorbed and obsessed and entered the 'Can't you see I'm reading?' mode."
I wouldn't dream of putting it down*.
(Book of the day no.1 is here.)
*Edited to add: there is now a full post on The End of Your Life Book Club here.