Ahh, books

I’m heading to the college today with a stack of books under my arm and a big smile on my face. I love turning my students on to books.
In any given Intro to Mass Communications class you’ll find students who always have a book in their lives, students who’ve never read a book, and everything in between. While I am not out to proselytize book readers, I do hope to light a flame in the hearts of the non-readers by exposing them to the rich, exciting conversations engaged in by those who do read. I hope they will think they are missing something.
Because, let’s face it, they are.
I am not a wealthy man but I am fortunate enough to be able to drop a hundred bucks or so at Barnes & Noble each semester for an assortment of books I can hand out in class. I get away a little cheaper in the spring semester when I have only one section of Mass Comm. I have two sections in fall and wind up buying two of each book. It’s like having twins.
I always bring in The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chboski. And yes, that’s how he spells his name. I tell the students he needs to buy a vowel.
This book is an easy sell, especially since the movie came out a couple of years ago. Its life-changing message “we accept the love we think we deserve” really resonates with young people.
I have purchased perhaps a hundred copies of this book since it first appeared in 1999 … and given every one away. I tell the students to read it and pass it along. Who knows where they’ve all gone.
I also have a couple of copies of The Five People You Meet in Heaven with me. It’s by Mitch Albom, author of the international bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie. One of my students said the other day “Tuesdays” is the only book she’s ever read. It made her cry, she said. I told her about “The Five People” and said I’d bring her a copy, so one of them sort of has her name on it.
I have two copies of The Art of Racing in the Rain. It’s a must-read for anyone who loves or has ever loved a dog. Read this book and you will never look at your dog the same way again. But be forewarned, you will cry your way through it.
I have only one copy of Love is a Mix Tape by Bob Sheffield because there was only one on the shelf.
This is one of my favorite books ever. It’s a love story written in a style that young people (or old, as I was when I read it) will appreciate. That’s probably because Rob Sheffield writes for Rolling Stone.
“Girls take up a lot of room,” he writes. “I had a lot of room for this one.”
Wish I wrote that.
There’s one copy of The Alchemist in my stack too. It called to me from a display on one of the tables. I read it some time ago but it’s beautifully re-packaged “25th anniversary edition” could not be passed up. I hope the quote printed on the back, “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation,” speaks to my students the way it speaks to me.
Then there’s Illusions, The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
This might be my favorite. I have two copies to share.
Sprinkled throughout this thought provoking novel are messages from “The Messiah’s Handbook.” One is this:
Here’s a test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished:
If you’re alive, it isn’t.

I tell my students that’sbooks the reason no one should ever commit suicide.

Ed Ackerman