Will Schwalbe

The author of The End of Your Life Book Club picks three favorites about love.

“What are you reading?” It’s a question former publishing insider Will Schwalbe and his mother, Mary Anne, asked each other often. But it acquired a new urgency after she was diagnozed with pancreatic cancer. Soon they were reading together, everything from thrillers to classics, and sharing their thoughts on literature, life, and, ultimately, death during the long afternoons when Mary Anne had her chemotherapy. Schwalbe’s poignant, elegiac memoir, The End of Your Life Book Club, testifies to the power of the written word. When we asked him to pick three of his favorite reads, he responded with a trio of books about love.

Buy The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

The Headmaster’s Wager

By Vincent Lam

“There are several love stories in Vincent Lam’s extraordinary novel, The Headmaster’s Wager, a book set principally in Saigon in the 1960s. But the one that affected me most was the story of the love of the main character, Percival Chan, for his son. This novel is set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. I found myself desperately involved with Lam’s characters — and feeling a very real sense of loss as the story unfolded. It’s a wonderful choice for a book club as it’s the kind of book you’ll want to discuss while you are reading it — and even more so when you get to the surprising end.”


By J. R. Moehringer

“I was lucky enough to be involved in the publication of J.R. Moehringer’s memoir, The Tender Bar, so I couldn’t wait to read Sutton, his first novel. As soon as I started, I clicked into ‘can’t you see I’m reading’ mode and snapped at anyone who tried to talk to me. It’s got a firecracker plot; it tackles big themes (wealth and power, freedom and escape); and it has, at its heart, a tremendously moving love story. I was reminded of Damon Runyon as I read this fictionalized life of bank robber Willie Sutton, but this is a completely modern book that speaks to today’s events.”

Love Poems

By Nikki Giovanni

“Nikki Giovanni is a poet of vast range and power — and her Love Poems is one of the most happy-making books I’ve ever encountered. The book, which is dedicated to Tupac Shakur, celebrates romantic love, for the most part, but also parental love and even the love for great food. This is a book you’ll want to read out-loud; the poems demand to be spoken. And they get inside your brain and stay there.”