O'D penned memoir available Jan. 16


Five decades of wisdom as only Professor Michael “O’ D” O’Donnell can dispense will land in the UVa-Wise Bookstore in mid-January.


“O’ D: a Memoir, Fifty Years of Teaching and Travel,” will officially hit the shelves on Jan. 16, and O’ D will be on hand to sign copies. All profits from the self-published book will go toward the O’D/Michael E. O’Donnell Scholarship.


OD photo“I’ve felt like I had something to say,” he said when asked why he decided to pen the book of 62 essays that range from a single sentence to five pages. “I kept a diary of 300 words a day for more than two years when I was in the Peace Corp in Africa and then from my European travel, and it never really went anywhere because, frankly, I’m too busy. I always thought, and this is a terrible thing to say, that if you are busy living a life, you really don’t have time to write about it, and God, I’ve been busy, and still am.”


O’Donnell said people often encouraged him to put his stories and thoughts in a book, but he shrugged it off because he didn’t want to get bogged down in the publishing process. He decided in mid 2013 that he would give it a try. He was unsure what topic the book should address, so he gave it more thought. In vintage O’ D fashion, he chose a direction while sitting in the Tri-Cities Regional Airport. He wrote the first passages in the terminal.


“I’ve led a pretty interesting life,” he said. “I’ve lived it literally all over the world.”


He settled on a style that was a mix between a favorite French essayist and Willie Nelson.


“They used the same short paragraphs on how things in their lives affect them, and I thought that would work,” he said. “The book just wrote itself.”


What emerged from several months of writing is as unique as one would expect from O’ D.


“There are no quotes in the book,” he said. “I don’t like quotes. Quotes have too many rules to follow, so my book has quotes, but not really.”


And there are no jokes in the book. O’ D is not a fan of jokes.


“I can’t stand jokes,” he said. “Life is much funnier than a joke. I tell good stories, and I love good stories. A good story gets better as you polish it.”


It was easy to decide where the book should end, he said.


“The book was a joy to write,” he said. “I ended it when I told my wife that I had 62 essays written. She told me that was enough for book one.”


O’Donnell said he has the beginning of a second book ready to go. His only expectations about the first book is that it benefit UVa-Wise and its students in some way.


The book will go on sale in the bookstore on Jan. 16.