tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom : Book Review

Bookxpert Rating : 4.5/5

Genre : Biography

About the author : Mitchell David Albom is an American author, journalist, screenwriter, dramatist, radio and television broadcaster, and musician. His books have sold over 35 million copies worldwide. Having achieved national recognition for sports writing in the earlier part of his career, he is perhaps best known for the inspirational stories and themes that weave through his books, plays, and films. Albom lives with his wife Janine Sabino in Detroit, Michigan.

tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Buy tuesdays with Morrie now (hard copy)

Buy tuesdays with Morrie now (Kindle version)


THE REVIEW

There are some books that make you tear up, and then there are others that make you cry. This is one of those other ones.

tuesdays with Morrie is, in a way, what our generation needs right now. With our frenetic lifestyles, focus more on social media than on actual people, and a craze for money, status, power and fame, this book gently nudges us in the right direction – to put our priorities at large in perspective. And it does so ingeniously, through an old man Morrie who’s suffering from ALS – whose death is certain.

This is the story of the last days of an old man Morrie Schwartz, who is diagnosed with ALS. It spreads the message of love, caring and acceptance that we need so badly in today’s age and time.

And while this was always the original purpose for this book, there was also another -that of helping to pay for Morrie’s medical bills through it’s sale revenue. Neither Mitch nor Morrie had ever imagined it would become the kind of success it eventually did. Morrie didn’t even live to see it be published.

Quotes from tuesdays with Morrie
Quotes from tuesdays with Morrie

A friend gave this book to me, and leafing through, it was clear that tuesdays with Morrie wasn’t a novel or self-help. I wasn’t exactly sure what genre it would classify in then, and frankly am not even now. But I do know that this book, based on a real account of conversations between the author Albom and his professor Morrie, is poignant and eye-opening.

Mitch Albom, a sports reporter, has to hunch over in his car as if searching for fallen keys to avoid being seen by his old professor. On his first visit to Morrie Schwartz, seeing him after almost 16 years, Mitch is apprehensive. Morrie, about whom he’d seen a news piece while ‘casually flipping channels’; his favourite professor, whom he’d promised he’d stay in touch with, and hadn’t kept it.

As for Morrie? Well, I thought about him now and then, the things he had taught me about “being human” and “relating to others”, but it was always in the distance, as if from another life.

Morrie Schwartz and Mitch Albom
Morrie Schwartz and Mitch Albom

The intended solitary visit to Morrie turns into an every Tuesday rendezvous, their last class together.

The last class of my old professor’s life took place once a week in his house….The class met on Tuesdays. The subject was The Meaning of Life. It was taught from experience.

In fact, it would be much better if you just read the entire introduction, titled ‘The Curriculum’. It’s rather intriguing, and persuasive (if the review doesn’t cut it, this definitely will!). Or you can also read the product description on the Amazon page here. (To read a more detailed, chapter wise summary of the book, go here.)

So, why did an old professor feature in the news?

Morrie's tombstone
Morrie’s tombstone

Morrie is diagnosed with Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, the same that took Stephen Hawking, the same for which to raise money people did the ice bucket challenge (also visit the Asha, ek Hope page). ALS is a neurological disease affecting the motor response to muscles, thereby resulting in a slow degeneration of muscle function over time. And so Morrie, a sprightly man with a love for dancing, swimming and spreading joy is told he has two years left.

ALS is like a lit candle: it melts your nerves and leaves your body a pile of wax. Often, it begins with the legs and works its way up…

Do I wither up and disappear, or do I make the best of my time left? he had asked himself.

He would not wither. He would not be ashamed of dying.

Instead, he would make death his final project, the centre point of his days…He could be research. A human textbook…

… Morrie would walk that final bridge between life and death, and narrate that trip.

They talk about topics ranging from emotions to money to even death. A sampling the table of contents:

Topics Mitch and Morrie talk about
Topics Mitch and Morrie talk about

The Fourth Tuesday – We Talk about Death

The Eleventh Tuesday – We Talk about our Culture

The Thirteenth Tuesday – We Talk about the Perfect Day.

Morrie, through his loving and open way, draws people to himself,makes them open up about themselves seemingly effortlessly. Suffering from ALS, in his 80s, with the sword of death hanging above him, with many people visiting to talk about him, he makes it a point to talk about them. He listens to them – values them.

“…. Only an open heart will allow you to float equally between everyone.”

He paused, then looked at me. “I’m dying, right?”

Yes.

“Why do you think it’s so important for me to hear other people’s problems? Don’t I have enough pain and suffering of my own ?

Of course I do. But giving to other people is what makes me feel alive…, when I can make someone smile after they were feeling sad, it’s as close to healthy as I ever feel….”

The layout of the book, college memories interspersed between Morrie and Mitch’s Tuesday meets, is good. Plus, it is a short read, and the tone is conversational, so it keeps the reader engrossed.

While tuesdays with Morrie might not exactly be a first choice kind of book for fiction addicts, especially fast paced thrill seekers, since a sort of lull is created between chapters, they should definitely give it a go, believe me it’s worth it. As for folk into the self-help genre, this book is a must read. And if there’s a level above must read, this book is that level of priority for anyone dealing with tough times.
What’s good :-

  1. The optimism of Morrie. The hope and joy he spreads among people. I actually  cried when his death isdescribed in the book, you start caring for Morrie that  much!
  2. The theme – of acceptance, of loving, and of caring.
  3. The tone of the book, discussions of heavy topics in an enjoyable way.

What should have been :-

  1. Not about the book per se, but I was searching if the sale revenue of the book contributed to ALS in any way, and couldn’t find anything, so I’m assuming they don’t. It would feel good if some part of sale was contributed to ALS, and if it already is, let the public know about it.
  2. Include some photos of Morrie, maybe.

Other Stuff :

The Title:- ‘tuesdays with Morrie’, since Mitch and Morrie met on tuesdays, in college as well as later. They were ‘tuesday people’. Also, I like the fact that the word tuesdays starts with a small case ‘t’ instead of a capital case one, although could not think of a reason for it. If you can, ring in your opinions with your comments !
Best Line :-

“The truth is, Mitch,” he said, “once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

Genre :- Biography
Final Thoughts :- A book that conveys the message of love, and awareness about ALS. It is a must-read for everyone.

Book gets 4.5/5 stars!
Up Next :- ‘Sea Prayer’ by Khaled Hosseini.

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