By Mitch Albom
Published in 1998 (Australia/NZ)
Published by Hachette Australia
I bought this book myself and am reviewing it of my own accord. It also counts towards the Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge.
Image credit: Here
Occasionally you come across a book that makes you stop and think. Really think. About the big things - life, love, what's important and what's not. Tuesdays with Morrie is one of those books. I bought it at Brisbane airport on the way home from Taiwan a couple of years ago and had always intended to read it, especially as it had been highly recommended to me by a few people. It's taken me a while to get to it but I'm glad it did in a way - I feel like now I'm in a better place to appreciate the message of the book.
Mitch Albom graduated from university intent on fulfilling his dream of becoming a pianist but soon realised that the world is a pretty harsh place and sometimes the need to earn money supersedes passion for the things we love. Before he knew it, he was well and truly in the rat race: working insane hours as a sports journalist, earning good money but not being entirely true to the ideals he had once held back in his university days. A major influence on these ideals was his old sociology professor Morrie Schwartz. This unique and sparkling gentleman was beloved by many of his students, including Mitch. During his undergraduate degree, Mitch and Morrie had shared a special relationship that went beyond the classroom. They had many lunches together - usually on a Tuesday - during which they would discuss a wide variety of topics. They grew close over the four years and when he graduated, Mitch promised to stay in touch. Unfortunately, as happens with so many of us, this promise lapsed as life got in the way and other things took priority over the old professor he had once held in such high regard. Until, that is, he overheard Morrie's name on a Nightline broadcast.
Morrie was dying - he had contracted ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) - but refusing to give up he went into intellectual overdrive, using his own death as an opportunity for research and discussion. As a result he began producing more and more of his aphorisms for life, which a friend of his collected and sent to the Boston Globe. The resulting piece in the Boston Globe caught the attention of the folks at Nightline and they decided to make a documentary about this extraordinary man as he studied his own dying process.
Mitch flew to visit Morrie, whom he hadn't seen in 16 years and so started Morrie's final class with Mitch as his only student, learning lessons about life through looking at death head-on. Mitch recorded these conversations and wrote this memoir as a result. Initially, the project was done with the sole intention of finding a way to pay Morrie's medical bills but became an international success, selling 11 million copies world wide.
And really, it's easy to see why. Reading this book feels good. It renews hope and inspiration. It relights the fires of determination in a world that too often does all it can to put that fire out. Morrie is the professor/uncle/father/neighbour everyone wishes they'd known and by reading this book the reader gets to 'know' a small slice of Morrie. Although someone more cynical might dismiss some of the things that Morrie says as being over-sentimental or simplistic, I think that he's bang on the money. And what's wrong with sentimentality and simplicity anyway? Why make life so complicated and hard-nosed? If more people could embrace life with the enthusiasm and mentality that Morrie had the world would be a very different place.
I very much enjoyed reading this book. It was a quick read but at the same time deeply meaningful. I finished the last few pages on the train and just sat, thinking for the rest of the way home, letting the words settle over me like a soothing blanket. Life is about the small moments of joy: a ray of sun hitting your desk a certain way; a joke shared with good friends; a cute baby smiling at you from across the train carriage. For those who are feeling overwhelmed or out of touch with the joy of life, this book would be a great antidote. For the rest of us, it's a timely reminder of what's important.
Read and enjoy.
Related links and videos:
Mitch Albom's Webpage
The Nightline Interviews: