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5 Books like Tuesdays with Morrie: New Perspectives on Life

Roxanne_Sancto_itcher_contributorEvery once in a while we meet people who have a huge impact on our lives. These people open us up to new ideas, attitudes and perspectives by sharing their wisdom. Books like ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ speaks of such encounters. If you felt touched by Morrie, look into the following books: ‘Tales from the Bed’, ‘Somewhere Towards the End: A Memoir’, ‘Limbo: A Memoir’, ‘Five People You Meet in Heaven’ and ‘Fear of Dying’. ~ Roxanne Sancto

Don’t cling to things because everything is impermanent…

When Mitch Albom found out by ways of ABC’s Nightline that his former college professor was dying of ALS, he immediately got in touch with him. It had been many years since Albom’s college days but when they finally reunited, it felt as though no time had passed.

From then on, Mitch visited Morrie every Tuesday; he spent sixteen Tuesdays with him before Morrie passed. Every time he visited, they would discuss a different topic:  life, love, death, regrets and forgiveness, for example.

Mitch and Morrie are in very different points in their lives. Morrie has already come to accept his imminent death and in doing so, has gained a new perspective on life and what it really means. His words and wisdoms are invaluable to Mitch and subsequently, his readers.

Often, we can learn most from those who are about to exit life or those who have come very close to dying. It may sound like a cliché but no one can fully understand life until they’ve looked death in the eye.

Reading about the different lessons learned from people who truly understand what it means to fight for life, or those who are saying their last goodbyes, help us put things into perspective. Books like ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ help us realize how trivial some of our worries and wants really are.

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Books Similar to ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’…

‘Tales from the Bed’ (Jenifer & Valerie Estess, 2005)

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Jenifer, a former New York theatre producer, was diagnosed with ALS when she was thirty-five years old. From one day to the next, her whole life changed as she came to terms with her disease. Fortunately, she found a strong support system in her sisters Valerie and Meredith. Together they made a pact: “Nothing, no one will stop us” – and nothing and no one did.

Even while dealing with scary decisions like choosing her wheelchair, Jenifer remained positive. She was not ready to let ALS take over her life; she still had things to do, like fight for a cure for this debilitating disease. With some help from her sisters, she founded Project A.L.S, which has raised millions of dollars for the cause. Jenifer passed away aged 40.

‘Tales from the Bed’ not only gives us insight into what it’s like dealing with a disease like ALS, but also helps us understand what’s really important in life – love.

Similarity Match: 75%
Both books deal with protagonists who are suffering from ALS; however, ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ offered more depth in his discussed topics and thoughts.

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‘Somewhere Towards the End: A Memoir’ (Diana Athill, 2009)

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Diana Athill is one of the founding directors of the Allan Wingate publishing house and stayed with them until she was seventy-five years old. She has worked with renowned authors such as Jack Kerouac, Simone de Beauvoir and David Gurr over the. She is also a prolific writer herself and has published works like ‘Don’t Look at Me Like That’ (1967), ‘Instead of a Letter’ (1963) and ‘Midsummer Night in the Workhouse’ (2011).

At the age of eighty-nine, Diana wrote ‘Somewhere Towards the End’ in which she discusses her fears about death and her overall attitude towards life. Instead of dealing with only the “safe” and typical topics expected from a book like ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’, she also openly discusses subjects like sex and dealing with death as an atheist.

Similarity Match: 70%
The style and the topics discussed in ‘Somewhere Towards the End’ and ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ differ but both offer thoughtful and touching insights.

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‘Limbo: A Memoir’ (A. Manette Ansay, 2002)

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For as long as she could remember, music had always taken the centre stage in A. Manette Ansay’s life. She had been training to become a concert pianist when at 19, she lost her ability to walk. Doctors have yet to determine what has caused this severe muscular disorder.

Ansay used to spend her every waking hour consumed by her one and only dream: To pursue a career as a professional musician. But by the time she was twenty-one years old, her muscle disorder had taken over her life and she was no longer able to actively take part in it.

This is when she decided to find another creative outlet that would help her fill the void giving up music had left in her: “Writing fiction began for me as a side-effect of illness, a way to live beyond my body when it became clear that this new, altered body would be mine to keep. A way to fill the hours that had once been occupied by music”.

Similarity Match: 60%
Morrie and A. Manette Ansay both find themselves in similar situations but while the old Morrie has accepted his fate, young A. Manette Ansay still struggles with being stuck in limbo.

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If You Like ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’, You Will Like…

‘Five People You Meet in Heaven’ (Mitch Albom, 2006)

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Eddie is a maintenance worker at a theme park. Every day he goes through the same routine but on his eighty-third birthday, chaos erupts when one of the rides threatens to fall and kill a young girl. Eddie jumps to the rescue and ends up losing his own life.

When he arrives in heaven he is riddled with questions: “Where are my worries? Where is my pain?”. But before his questions can be answered, he is introduced to five random people who have been chosen to be his mentors and ease him into the afterlife.

‘Five People You Meet in Heaven’ offers some great truths about how to better your life or even just appreciate it more as does Morrie. However, Morrie is a lot more accepting of his journey than Eddie is.

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‘Fear of Dying’ (Erica Jong, 2015)

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It’s been forty-two years since Erica Jong published her cult-classic ‘Fear of Flying’ and now she’s finally back – only she’s no longer confronting her fear of flying; she is now worried about dying! In the early seventies ‘Fear of Flying’ protagonist Isadora Wing contemplated all things sex and fidelity. In ‘Fear of Dying’, protagonist Vanessa Wonderman ponders aging and her inevitable death.

Confronted with an old, sexually challenged husband, a pregnant daughter and dying parents, Vanessa longs to revisit her youth, her sexuality and the “zipless fuck”. If you’re looking for a book like ‘Fear of Flying’ for the over-fifties, this one’s for you.

Although Vanessa Wonderman does worry about death and ageing, her attitude is humorous and fused with sexual longing. Morrie has already entered a different stage in his life.

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Difficult Topics Poetically Discussed

One thing all of these books share in common is a poetic style which may be intense but not frightening. This is why these stories and experiences resonate with people – authors like Mitch Albom and Erica Jong help us confront difficult topics in a calm but humorously realistic manner.

Which of these books helped you shed a little light on life and death?

My name is Roxanne Sancto and I’ll be writing all things music, book and movie related for itcher mag. I also write for New Heroes & Pioneers’ upcoming Festival and Culture magazines, to be launched in the spring of 2014. I am the co-author of The Pink Boots and am currently working on two new novels. I love music, literature, cinema, crafting, yoga and animals.
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