Mitch Albom is a best selling author in the US and has spent many weeks at the top of their bestsellers list. Yet, in the UK, he has little to no name recognition. Having stumbled across his books in Waterstones before Covid, I’ve had several of them on my reading list for a while. Some people say that books come to you when they’re meant to and reading Tuesdays with Morrie this winter when the most recent lockdown was announced felt poetic.
At its core, the book is a true story of a university professor (Morrie) reuniting with an old student (Mitch) after a viral interview in which Morrie talked about having ALS (a progressive disease). Mitch remembers fondly the idealistic lessons his sociology professor had taught him and feels the need to reunite with his old professor. He is initially apprehensive to meet Morrie again, as he hasn’t seen him in nearly twenty years and has since become work-oriented and productivity driven.
Morrie is the teacher that we all wish we’d had. He exudes a calming aura, which Mitch conveys effectively through his writing. The initial meeting between the two men is touching in many ways as it shows the relationship between pupil and teacher at its purest. Morrie even offers to tell Mitch what it’s like to die.
A strike at the newspaper Mitch works for gives him the time to reflect on how his life has turned out and to decide to go back to see Morrie every Tuesday. After his first few visits Mitch realises that Morrie doesn’t have much time left and decides to ask questions about some of the things which he wants to know most about- and to record Morrie’s answers to have something of him once he was gone.
Mitch’s topics range from self-pity, to family and to how love can go on after death. Using these questions to structure Tuesdays with Morrie creates an educational structure for the reader to dip in for short bursts and ponder the lessons Morrie thinks we all need to follow to live and to die peacefully. Some of Morrie’s beliefs may seem cliché or cheesy but with the context of the setting they were told in, it is hard not to be touched.
Tuesdays with Morrie is a book that I will come back to again and again as a reminder of the way in which I want to live. Throughout the book Morrie attests to the power of love and of the importance of giving over taking in life. Morrie believes that the more we do for others the better we feel. Even with only a few weeks of his life remaining, Morrie made time to talk to Mitch and to offer his thoughts on a range of subjects that meant a lot to Mitch.
Albom has managed to share many of Morrie’s life lessons with millions of Americans and I hope that it starts to see more success on this side of the Atlantic. Albom has written many more critically praised books, such as The Five People You Meet In Heaven, which I can’t wait to start! If you’ve been feeling overworked or lost yourself to being endlessly productive, maybe it’s time for a lesson with Morrie.
Words by Tom Burgess
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