Author : Mitch Albom

Release Date : July 24, 2003

Publisher: Time Warner Paperbacks

Paperback: 212 pages

ISBN-10: 0751529818

ISBN-13: 978-0751529814

“Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back…

The last class of my old professor’s life took place once a week, in his home, by a window in his study…The class met on Tuesdays. No books were required. The subject was the meaning of life. It was taught from experience.”

Mitch Albom writes his true story of his last lessons with his old college professor.

Morrie Schwartz was Albom’s favorite mentor who influenced him and guided him in his younger years. After a graduation promise to keep in touch, Mitch loses contact with him through the intervening years following college in which he worked to become a successful sports writer. One day, he learns that his old professor is dying from ALS, and grabs this second chance to see Morrie again. For this, Mitch gets the privilege of being Morrie’s student once more, a sole participant in the last classes for a course on the meaning of life. Every Tuesday, Mitch visits with Morrie who shares his views about our existence. He tackles death, fear, aging, greed, marriage, family, society, forgiveness, and purpose in life.

In one instance, Morrie says,

“Mitch, it is impossible for the old not to envy the young but the issue is to accept who you are and revel in that…You have to find what’s good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now. Looking back makes you competitive, and age is not a competitive issue. The truth is, part of me is every age. I am a three-year-old, I’m a five-year-old, I’m a thirty-seven-year-old, I’m a fifty-year-old. I’ve been through all of them and I know what it’s like. I delight in being a child when it’s appropriate in being a child. I delight in being a wise old man when it’s appropriate to be a wise old man. Think of all I can be! I am every age, up to my own…

How can I be envious of where you are when I’ve been there myself?”

Albom’s books are short reads but heavy with insights. Morrie’s lessons shift our paradigms so we get to look at things with new attitudes. The lessons are universal so I think people of different faiths may be able to relate to the truths Morrie was very clear about.

Indeed, this book is another inspirational gem by Albom. I laughed and cried with the professor’s lessons that really pare life down to its essentials. Another treasured addition to my bookshelf.

My Mark : Excellent

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Author : Mitch Albom
Release Date : September 23, 2003
Publisher : Hyperion; 1 edition
ISBN-10: 0786868716
ISBN-13: 978-0786868711
Pages : 198

“This is a story about a man named Eddie and it begins at the end, with Eddie dying in the sun. It might seem strange to start a story with an ending. But all endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.” – p. 1

For “Eddie Maintenance”, life simply crept up on him. His plans to better himself often got pushed to the backburner when life’s demands frequently took first place. One day, he wakes up to realize that he is too old and too late to start pursuing dreams. Regret over wasted years becomes his guilt as years pass until his accidental death while saving a little girl from a carnival ride gone wrong.

He wakes up in heaven where he meets five people, who have, directly or indirectly, been connected to him in life, at one point or another. Each has one lesson for him that makes him gradually perceive that his seemingly purposeless life had great meaning after all.

What an insightful book for one so short and so easily read. And a comfort as well, for its message is : “No life is a waste. The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we are alone.” With these two lines, Mitch Albom succinctly expresses what this book is really all about. In essence, every life has a purpose. It is when you have understood why you have lived and know that you have actually lived with purpose, that you get to come to your own paradise.

So, now we understand. No matter what life throws our way, in the end we truly know that everything’s going to be alright after all.

The book reads like a parable and is rife with little thoughts and reflective one-liners. It’s a touching little story that can make you shed a tear or two; but, definitely worth picking up for its optimism and hope.

For this is Albom’s heaven: “Everyone has an idea of heaven as do most religions, and they should all be respected. The version represented here is only a guess, a wish, in some ways, that my uncle [Edward Beitchman]), and others like him — people who felt unimportant here on earth—realize, finally, how much they mattered and how they are loved.” I guess we can make this our own, too.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this book becomes a modern classic.

My Mark : Outstanding

A little aside: I wish authors would really take the time to check on things they write especially if they need to use words foreign to their language. In this instance, a little Filipina girl refers to a soldier as “sundalong”. The correct term should be “sundalo”. I hope the next reprints will take care of this little bit of carelessness.

Some memorable thoughts from the author :

“Strangers are just family you have yet to come to know.” – p. 49

“When your time came, it came, and that was that. You might say something smart on your way out, but you might just as easily say something stupid.” – p. 13

“Love, like rain, can nourish from above, drenching couples with a soaking joy. But sometimes, under the angry heat of life, love dries on the surface and must nourish from below, tending to its roots, keeping itself alive.” – p.164

“…the secret of heaven: that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but the stories are all one.” – p. 196