One Book One Campus prepares for visit from Jamie Tworkoswki

By Adam Kaz, Staff Writer

Many students can recall a time when a book touched them on a deeply personal level.

Carly Prais, senior in LAS, remembers how “If You Feel Too Much: Thoughts on Things Found and Lost and Hoped For” and other works by Jamie Tworkowski helped her through her mental health issues. Tworkowski is an author made famous by his movement, To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding help for people struggling with depression and forms of self-harm.

“Jamie’s writing in particular, it’s just a source of comfort to me because he speaks in a way that lets you know he’s been through what you’ve been through,” Prais said. “He really connects to the audience.”

Prais is a member of One Book One Campus, OBOC, an Illini Union initiative that picks one author each year to guest lecture about their novel. On Nov. 3, Tworkowski will give a free lecture on his book of short stories “If You Feel Too Much” at 7 p.m. in the I-Rooms of the Illini Union. A reception and book signing will follow the event.

“If You Feel Too Much” is a collection of personal stories from Tworkowski focusing on loss, despair and pain.

Prais is also a member of the University’s chapter of To Write Love on Her Arms. Last summer, she met Tworkowski on a book tour and has continued to follow his work closely.

“Club members and I kind of a feel a really special connection to him and to his words because we feel like we’ve been a part of his message for a long time,” Prais said.

Last spring, the approximately 20 committee members of OBOC voted on which book they wanted to represent for the year. Carolina Figueroa, sophomore in AHS and committee member, said Tworkowski’s novel, as well as his mental health awareness movement To Write Love On Her Arms, were popular among committee members.

For Figueroa, the themes of  “If You Feel Too Much” can relate to anyone going through a tough time.

“At U of I, especially lately with the tragic event that happened on campus, there have been a lot of people that have been under a lot of stress emotionally and mentally,” Figueroa said.

In preparation for the event, OBOC held a discount on the book at the Illini Union Bookstore and plans to hang up informational posters across the University. They’ve also reached out the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Engineering Students Council and other RSOs concerned with mental health.

Figueroa has fond memories of last year’s author Wes Moore holding a moving lecture on campus. She hopes Tworkowski’s stories of adversity will have an even greater impact on students.

“Most of the authors we invite are very personable and they’re very humble and down to earth, so I think that it’s a great thing that students should take advantage of,” she said. “You don’t get the opportunity to meet an author for free and hear their personal stories all the time.”

One of organization’s founders, and Illini Union Bookstore Manager, Frances Davis praised the club for focusing on reading as a form of entertainment.

“These days, one can argue mightily about whether the screen has replaced the page, or about whether or not reading is still entertainment, but reading remains transformative,” Davis wrote in an email.

[email protected]

Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Carly Prais’ last name. The Daily Illini regrets the error.