The loss of actor Robin Williams this week has been both shocking and sad for so many of us. He was always so full of life in his interviews and stand-up
performances. You always felt like you were watching someone special. He is probably best known for his television and movie performances. Today’s teens might not remember him in Mork and Mindy, but I encourage them and you to Youtube those old episodes. It’s a show from a long-ago TV era, but one that has special place in my heart alongside I Love Lucy from the Nick at Night of yesteryear. His comedic talents and sheer charisma in the show are timeless, so is his impressive work in film.
Two of his many films he made were selected for YALSA’s Fabulous Films for Young Adults â€“ Dead Poet’s Society and Good Will Hunting, both 2010 selections. Williams was an artist who connected with many people and across many generations. Look to the sheer volume and diversity of people responding to his death on social media, in the news and on television. Just look at what’s been happening at the bench in Boston where they filmed Good Will Hunting. The cynics among us may believe this is just another example of a society obsessed with celebrity, but I believe it’s more than that. I believe he was one of the rare artists who touched our hearts and souls with the joy and love he infused in his work.
He was a teacher that showed his students that words and ideas could change the world and asked his students to find their voice before it was too late. He was a straight shooting psychologist that helped a lost genius reconcile his anger and grief and asked him to make a move because someone can’t do everything for you. He was a wish granting genie and a best friend to a street rat. He was Peter Pan, a crossdressing father trying to see his kids, a night club owning gay dad pretending to be straight for the parents of his son’s fiancÃ©, and a US president who comes to life afterhours in a museum. Robin Williams was all of these people to us because he brought them to life with his talent. He had the ability to make us believe in him and laugh with him. Just watch this moving tribute from super fan Jimmy Fallon:
I understand this outpouring of sadness from my friends and the world, because I know that the world lost a little bit its light on August 11th. Losing someone who projected such a gregarious personality especially to something like suicide is jarring. There are lots of myths out there about depression and suicide. Just know that depression is a serious illness that a lot of us don’t understand, which makes losses like these hard for us to reconcile. Educate yourself.
For more information, check out NIMH, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and to see a more personal perspective, read this letter written for National Suicide Prevention Day from John Tabin.
In honor of Robin Williams, we wanted to create a booklist in his honor respecting the family’s wish for all of us to remember â€œthe countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.â€ With that in mind, here is a list of books that have made readers laugh out loud.
- Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
- The Twinkie Squad and No More Dead Dogs by Gordon Korman
- I Funny series by James Patterson
- Lemony Snicket’s books
- Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
- The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
- The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
- The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer A. Nielsen (noted for its sardonic wit)
- Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead (The first couple of books are the lighter ones but all of them carry the same zingy wit throughout.)
All right, readers, your turn- what was the last book that made you laugh out loud?
I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite Robin Williams scene from the 2010 selected YALSA’s Films for Young Adults, Dead Poet’s Society. If you are interested in readalikes for Dead Poet’s Society , check out Libby Gorman‘s post back in February of this year.
O Captain! My Captain! I hope you have found peace.
-Katie Shanahan Yu, currently reading If I Stay by Gayle Forman