Being from Metro Detroit, Mitch Albom seems to be everywhere. From his Sunday column in the Detroit Free Press, to countless sports articles over the years, to his numerous charities, and even to his popular afternoon radio broadcast on WJR. What’s interested me most, though, have been his books — and there have been some fantastic reads. With Albom recently publishing a new book and with a new one always seemingly on the horizon, I thought I’d take the opportunity to count down the best Mitch Albom books.
For this list, I have only included his three non-fiction books and seven novels. The various column collections and sports books were not included.
As with the other “best books” lists that I’ve written, this is strictly my opinion and in no way definitive. (Unless you 100% agree…then we’ll call it definitive!)
The Top 10 Best Mitch Albom Books
Kicking off this list of best Mitch Albom books, The Time Keeper was one of his quieter releases over his career. The first of three “magical realism” novels in a four-year stretch, this book was Albom’s second-lowest rated on Goodreads. With that said, none of his books are rated low. Most authors would love a 3.86 score out of 5 on the social media platform. That just goes to show how talented Albom has been over his writing career.
This particular book tells the story of the inventor of the world’s first clock, known as Father Time, who is confronted with a difficult task of saving a teenage girl and an old businessman. If you haven’t read any Mitch Albom books, this would be a good one to start with — because while it’s still very good, you will end with the comforting feeling that there are still nine better Mitch Albom books out there to explore.
This is a tough one for me. Ranking The Next Person You Meet in Heaven No. 9 on this list of best Mitch Albom books says much more about the eight books ahead of it than it does about this book — I can promise you that. As a follow-up from his 2003 bestseller The Five People You Meet in Heaven, which comes later on this list, Albom revisits both of his main characters — Eddie and Annie — during their heavenly reunion.
While I don’t think this is close to Albom’s best book, it is still an enjoyable magical realism journey and well worth the read. After a year on the shelf, more than 18,000 readers rated the book a 4.3 out of 5 on Goodreads, which is an impressive feat. As with many of Albom’s books, this one is short enough to read in just a few sessions if you’re into it, so I’d save it for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
One of Mitch Albom’s more recent books, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is also one of his highest-rated on Goodreads.
Like many of his other books, Albom creates a magical world in this novel with the story of Frankie Presto, the greatest guitar player who ever lived. Albom is an avid musician and even plays in a band with the likes of Stephen King, so this book was a chance for him to mix two of his great loves and talents.
Unlike many of his other books, this is not a one-sitting or even a one-day read, coming in at more than 500 pages. However, it will definitely be worth your time.
One of only three non-fiction books that Albom has written about non-sports subjects, Have a Little Faith follows Albom’s mission of reconnecting with his faith after his old rabbi asks him to give his eulogy. In the process, Albom also begins forming a relationship with a Christian pastor in Detroit — a convict and former drug dealer. As two worlds intersect, the Christian and Jewish, Albom tells the true story of how we are all more similar than commonly believed.
Ultimately, according to the publisher, “Have a Little Faith is a book about a life’s purpose; about losing belief and finding it again; about the divine spark inside us all. It is one man’s journey, but it is everyone’s story.”
Albom has built his career on telling true stories, first with his sports writing and then with his Sunday columns and finally with Tuesdays With Morrie, and this is another gem well worth your time.
Albom’s second book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, was not only a terrific commercial success — appearing at the top of the New York Times Bestsellers list and being made into a movie — but also serves as the inspiration for one of his more recent novels, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven.
The book centers around one event at a carnival. An old maintenance worker named Eddie, seeing a ride malfunction and begin plummeting toward the ground, risks his life by attempting to push a little girl out of the falling cart’s path. We don’t see what happens to Eddie directly, but he is suddenly in heaven on a new journey meeting five people from his past.
From the Goodreads description: “One by one, from childhood to soldier to old age, Eddie’s five people revisit their connections to him on earth, illuminating the mysteries of his ‘meaningless’ life, and revealing the haunting secret behind the eternal question: ‘Why was I here?'”
Albom’s first fiction book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a must-read.
The newest addition to this list of best Mitch Albom books, The Stranger in the Lifeboat reads much more like an unfolding mystery than some of his other novels. In the way that only Albom can, this book incorporates faith, fate, love and mystery as its primary pillars.
Set in the aftermath of a yacht explosion in the Atlantic Ocean, a group of passengers find themselves adrift on a life raft. That is when they pull a stranger from the sea who announces that he is the Lord. What ensues on that raft is captured in a journal by one of the survivors. The story jumps back and forth between the events on that raft and an investigator on a Caribbean island who discovers the journal a year after the wreck.
Ultimately, how the reader enjoys and connects with this book — as with most of Albom’s books — will depend on his or her ability to believe. If you have read and loved other books on this list of best Mitch Albom books, then this one is a must-read.
If you know anything about me, you should know that I have a strong affinity for my home state of Michigan. So seeing The First Phone Call From Heaven — a book set in a fictional town in northern Michigan — ranked fourth on this “best Mitch Albom books” list should be no surprise. And yes, I will certainly admit my bias is likely the reason this one came in so high. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was an outstanding novel.
The premise is like many of Albom’s other fictional books: Some sort of magical, yet oddly believable phenomenon occurs (in this case, people in a small northern Michigan town begin receiving phone calls from deceased loved ones), and then the story of the importance of faith ensues.
By the time Albom wrote this novel, he had already penned three other “magical realism” books, and it’s clear he has mastered the craft.
Mitch Albom’s newest non-fiction book, Finding Chika tells the heartwarming story of a little girl from Haiti who Mitch and his wife, Janine, took into their own home in an attempt to find a cure for a deadly brain tumor Chika had been diagnosed with.
At once heartbreaking and uplifting, this book rivals Tuesdays With Morrie, in my opinion, as Mitch Albom’s best non-fiction memoir. It goes somewhere that his other books don’t. For the first time, we don’t just see Albom helping others cope during difficult times. In this book, Mitch, Janine and Chika are all suffering together. There’s a vulnerability from Albom that is rarely shown.
A winner, if I’ve ever read one. You can read my full review here.
This was Albom’s first non-sports book, and it’s safe to say this is the one that put his name on the map, nationally. The bestseller tells the true story of Albom’s visits to his former college professor, an old man named Morrie Schwartz, as he battled ALS. Every Tuesday, he flew from Detroit to the east coast to meet with his old professor in what ended up being his final months.
The book, which seems to teach valuable life lessons through ordinary conversations, has touched millions of lives. Morrie may have put it best when he said, “Maybe death is the great equalizer, the one big thing that can finally make strangers shed a tear for one another.”
If you’re a fan of non-fiction, this should be the next book you read. (Heck, regardless, this should be the next book you read.)
If you’ve read any of Albom’s non-fiction books or Detroit Free Press columns, you already know that he is extremely talented at telling a true story. That’s really what he’s made a career of doing. With For One More Day, he somehow manages to take a fictitious tale and make it seem remarkably believable, as if, somehow, this could be true. Of course it’s not, but he lures you in with first-person narration and that tempting notion of being able to spend one more day with a lost loved one.
What’s probably most seizing about this book, at least for me, is that more than any of his other fiction, I wanted this one to be true. It was Ernest Hemingway who said, “All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened.” That’s For One More Day.
Give it a read.