I’m not sure I consider myself an inspiring person,” Mitch Albom said back in 2014. “I think that I meet a lot of people who are inspiring and that I write about characters who are inspiring. Myself, I’m always surprised when anyone finds me inspiring. But I always hope my stories leave people inspired.”
That they have. After all, Albom is best known for a book of nonfiction, 1997’s “Tuesdays with Morrie,” which documented his visits to his teacher, Morrie Schwartz, in Schwartz’s last days; Schwartz was suffering from ALS. That book became a famously inspiring tome dispensing life lessons. Albom has since switched to fiction, becoming a very successful novelist. He has sold more than 30 million books.
He also had a fondness for the Philippines and often included Filipino twists in books such as “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” (There’s a girl in it named Tala! How 2020!) and 2018’s “The Next Person You Meet in Heaven.”
Thanks to National Book Store, Albom visited the Philippines in 2014 for signings in Manila and Cebu. Over 3,000 fans packed the Glorietta Activity City in Makati. He also made a trip to Tacloban, recently ravaged by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” Together with National Book Store Foundation Inc., he would help fund the DRY (Donated Reading for the Youth of the Philippines) Libraries in the region. He had previously visited orphanages in Haiti, most notably after the 2010 earthquake.
He braced himself as he got ready to go to Tacloban. “If it’s worse than that, then my imagination can’t take me there,” he told the Inquirer. “I imagine what I’ll see are lots of people working through it. People smiling. People trying to take care of each other, because the human spirit is incredible. Given the spirit of the people I’ve met already, I imagine the spirit of the people there will be remarkable.”
He now will return to Manila, again with National Book Store, for a book signing for his new book, “Finding Chika: A Little Girl, An Earthquake, and the Making of a Family,” published last year by Little Brown Book Group. Albom will sign on Feb. 15, 12 p.m., at the Event Center, Lower Ground Floor, Mega A, SM Megamall in Mandaluyong with only 1,500 slots available. He will also sign on Feb. 16, 12 p.m., Alabang Town Center Activity Center, also with 1,500 slots available. Registration starts at 10 a.m., first come, first served.
His newest book, “Finding Chika,” brings him back to the beginning as it is a work of nonfiction, about a girl from earthquake-ravaged Port-au-Prince with an inoperable brain tumor whom Albom meets and brings to the United States for medical treatment. Like Schwartz, Chika does not survive, yet Albom finds himself changed by the experience and inspired by the girl’s short life. The “family” in the subtitle is Albom and his wife Janine, who embarks on a literal odyssey for Chika. Find out how the transformation happened by picking up “Finding Chika.”