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University Book Store: Mitch Albom’s ‘The Stranger in the Lifeboat’

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The University Bookstore

The weather is turning and many of us want to curl up under a blanket with a good book. If you’re searching for your next read, Mitch Albom’s newest novel, “The Stranger in the Lifeboat,” comes at the perfect time. 

On Nov. 5, University Book Store, along with several other indie bookstores, such as Books & Books in Miami, Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver, and Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vermont, hosted an event with author Mitch Albom and Jim Axelrod, chief investigative and senior national correspondent for CBS News. 

A bestselling author known for his memoir, “Tuesdays with Morrie,” Albom presented his new book, “The Stranger in the Lifeboat.” 

A story of hope and healing, this book aims to bring comfort to its readers.

“This book, in the end, is about belief, but not belief in religion and not belief in a particular dogma, but the belief that there is an order to the universe,” Albom said. “And in the end, your life will make sense.” 

Pam Cady, the department manager of University Book Store, voiced her thoughts after reading parts of the book.

“I thought it was really interesting,” Cady said. “[Albom is] always very spiritual and uplifting, and I think in an atmosphere where there’s so much division and argument it’s really nice to have those books where you could just go to and know that it’s just going to be uplifting, and he’s one of those people that does that.”

This book became a way for Albom to deal with his grief after losing Chika, a little girl whom he had been looking after. Instead of focusing on the seemingly cruel way Chika was taken out of his life, Albom attempted to turn his pain into acceptance and relief. 

“That was as much me writing to myself as to anybody who reads the book,” Albom said.  “Don’t ask, ‘Why was Chika taken from us?’ Ask what we did to deserve, in our late ‘50s, to have a chance to be parents? … Yeah, we cry because we miss her, but she’s not crying.” 

Albom concluded the book talk by talking about his relationship with failure. Despite being a successful author, he still holds the fear that his newest ventures won’t be well-received. 

“The failure is absolutely there, and it motivates me and it scares me,” Albom said.

These past two years have required many of us to acknowledge past failures, but to also move on from them and devise new ways to stay in the present. According to Grace Rajendran, events producer at University Book Store, when figuring out how to reach readers during the pandemic, this is exactly what the book store had to do as well. 

“The Zoom events have been absolutely wonderful … and during the initial stages of the pandemic, just being able to come together as a community globally and share that beauty and comfort of loving great books and great authors together,” Rajendran said. “It was beautiful to see how we were all just coping with the pandemic globally and how much books really brought us all together.” 

Moving forward, University Book Store hopes to be able to do a mixture of in-person and online events, as well as carry on its partnership with UW. Several upcoming events to look forward to are a book launch with Brené Brown, Emerald City Comic Con, and a visit from internationally-acclaimed author Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai.

Reach contributing writer Lea Wilson at Twitter: @leaswilson

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