Side note: I apologize for the quick text, minimal links, and horrible layout of this post. Apparently China’s Internet blocks WordPress so I’m having to type on my phone’s WordPress app and can’t properly view the post until it is published. Oh the joys of traveling! Be thankful for your bountiful Internet access in the states! Happy Thursday!
“The magical thing occurred that happens only with the very best books: I became absorbed and obsessed and entered the ‘Can’t you see I’m reading?’ mode.”
That magical feeling as described above by Will Schwalbe, the author of The End of Your Life Book Club, unfortunately did not happen for me while reading this book (summary here). Instead of entering the “absorbed and obsessed” mode, I was stuck in neutral. I tried to really enjoy it, I gave it my best effort, but honestly I just couldn’t. I found myself skimming over the lengthy book plot and character descriptions searching for the mother and son relationship parts wishing for more. It may have been that I just devoured “Pictures of You” by Caroline Leavitt and wanted that same must-find-out-what-happens feeling or my mood (tired and frustrated) wanted an escape to a happier place filled with hope instead of a book I knew ended in sadness. Either way I wasn’t thrilled curling up with this book at the end of the night.
That said, Mary Anne’s character (serious role model), the memorable lessons she taught her son, and how intensely the two of them LOVED to read are reason enough to pick up this book. The constant book discussions had between the two of them helped them approach the sensitive subjects of life, death, loss, and family, which had me reflecting on the countless times I too personally recall book characters, situations, feelings, and plots to discuss and support real life feelings, advice, and decisions and how the characters, the reading experience, and the emotions felt while reading all live on forever in my memory. I can still remember reading the entire series of Pee Wee Scouts in our fort under the stairs one summer, the lessons highlighted from 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, and the excitement of every single page of all seven Harry Potter books.
“Reading isn’t the opposite of doing, it’s the opposite of dying.”
Besides presenting the positive benefits of reading and rekindling my own personal love of reading, I couldn’t help but take notes of all the wisdom Mary Anne passed on to her son Will and he to the readers. My favorite that I will forever now use is as follows:
“Mom had always taught all of us to examine decisions by reversibility – that is, to hedge our bets. When you can’t decide between two things, she suggested you choose the one that allowed you to change course if necessary. Not the road less traveled but the road with the exit ramp.”
Remembering that life’s decisions aren’t set in stone and can easily be veered in one direction or another depending on the situation makes the immediate decision feel less daunting and opens up a world of possibilities. Plus I think it fits perfectly with my current life situation of quitting our jobs to travel the world!