Archive | 10:27 AM

Book Review: Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (5/5)

30 Oct

I felt like a bad Detroiter when I’d say I hadn’t read this classic. Albom is a sports and literary staple in our town and not having read one of his biggest books felt bad. I even met the guy and hadn’t read it. I wanted a nice, short audiobook and this seemed to be just what the doctor ordered so I decided to cross it off my ‘eventually’ list and read it.

Cover image via Goodreads

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Other books by Mitch Albom reviewed on this blog:

The First Phone Call from Heaven (4/5)

Summary from Goodreads:

Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, and gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago.

Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded. Wouldn’t you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you?

Mitch Albom had that second chance. He rediscovered Morrie in the last months of the older man’s life. Knowing he was dying of ALS – or motor neurone disease – Mitch visited Morrie in his study every Tuesday, just as they used to back in college. Their rekindled relationship turned into one final ‘class’: lessons in how to live.

Having read The Last Lecture, I thought this book would be pretty similar and on some levels, it was. I liked Mitch’s approach to his time with Morrie. Even as the disease took his body, Mitch knew his old friend’s mind was still sharp and capable of answering some of the tough questions Mitch had. I think Morrie was well poised to answer these questions. His life’s work had led him to analyze human interactions and behavior so he was able to look at his own behavior and history and identify what he needed to pass on.

I think Mitch portrayed Morrie in a very realistic way. I’m not sure if any of it was altered to make Morrie more likable, but I’d like to think none of it was. I remember professors from my own undergrad that I’d love to reconnect with and hear more about them and their lives. I’m thinking of one Spanish professor in particular. If something had happened to her and she was sick, I’d like to think I’d fly to see her. Maybe I would, but I’m not Mitch and I can’t say for sure what I’d do. But I remember her like Morrie: full of wisdom and always willing to share.

Morrie was easily my favorite character. It’s hard to see someone you love in pain and I appreciated that Morrie didn’t try to hide his pain from Mitch. He was straightforward with how and where he was hurting and while he asked for help, he never asked for pity. He wanted to remember loving his family, not being pitied by them and I think that’s a very noble, though difficult, thing to strive for.

In February, I’m going to fly to California to celebrate my Grandpa’s 100th birthday. While he hasn’t been diagnosed with anything specific, old age is getting to him and he frequently gets confused and disoriented. Like Mitch, I live far away from my grandpa and because of the distance, I lost contact with him for a long time. Unlike Mitch, it’s hard to establish it when dementia is setting in. I was jealous of what Mitch and Morrie were able to share. I wish I could do something similar with my grandfather.

As much as the life lessons were useful and heartfelt, I loved hearing Mitch describe Morrie and how he became so animated when Mitch would walk into the house. Knowing that when things were that dire and that painful, seeing an old friend could animate Morrie so much was heartwarming.

There wasn’t a part of this book I really disliked. If anything, it was the 20th Anniversary note at the end of my recording, but that’s only because it felt tacked on (which, of course, it was).

The audiobook was narrated by Mitch Albom. He narrates many of his own books so I wasn’t at all surprised. I think it added a lot because toward the end, he was able to imitate Morrie’s labored speech. It wasn’t disrespectful in any way, but it gave a good indication of how hard it was for Morrie to get out the words.

Morrie preached love. He loved his family, his wife, his job, and his life. It’s hard not to remember the things that make you happy when you read this book. I think it can be a good reminder. It’s very lucky for Mitch and Morrie that a newspaper strike and a national television spot timed up and worked out perfectly for this to happen. I’m glad it did. I can see why this book continues to be popular long after its publication.

Writer’s Takeaway: Books are so frequently about famous people: queens, presidents, athletes, actors, etc. Sometimes, you just need a book about a retired teacher. I like the Morrie wasn’t someone big and famous talking about life and dishing out advice. He really lived a great life and wanted to share everything he could. It doesn’t matter that we didn’t know him from Adam before this book. Now, everyone knows Morrie and the great lessons he imparted.

There’s nothing to dislike about this book. It’s short, sweet, and heartfelt. Five out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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