Wednesday, December 28, 2016

#Collaboreads | A Familiar Favorite

#Collaboreads | A Familiar Favorite - A Simpler Grace

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I'm back for another installment of Collaboreads with Rachel and Amber. This month, our theme was a familiar favorite. I chose a book that I've read several times and always seem to get something different from it each reading.

#Collaboreads | A Familiar Favorite - A Simpler Grace

by Randy Pausch

A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy? When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it was his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave - "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" - wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have... and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was living. - The Book Depository description

What part of the book could you not get enough of?

I always think it's interesting to learn the wisdom of others and in this book, Randy Pausch shares his own wisdom and that of countless others who have impacted his life in one way or another. From telling old stories his father used to tell at their kitchen table when he was a child to bits of advice his mentors in the technology industry gave him, they all have something valuable that can be applied to your life, no matter where you are in your walk.

How did you relate to/care for the characters?
What are your thoughts on the plot line and twists and turns?

I found myself flopping between the principle characters in this book, Randy and his wife, Jae. Throughout the story, Randy talks about the tug of war he had with his wife when they received his terminal diagnosis. Randy wanted to give this last lecture and "go out with a bang" but Jae wanted him to focus his time on his family and I can relate strongly to both sides. If I knew I had a limited amount of time left, I would still want to contribute something important to the world. I wouldn't want to go home and wait to die, but on the other hand, I also understand where Jae was coming from and if it were my spouse, I would selfishly want to spend as much time with them as possible.

Because this was a memoir and not a novel, there weren't any plot twists or turns. You go into this book knowing how it will end, but I will say this wasn't a story about dying. Pausch doesn't dwell on his diagnosis. It is what it is and he focuses his time and efforts on living. He creates memories with his wife and children so they have him to hold onto long after he is gone.

What other books are like this one?
If none, did it remind you of a particular tv show or movie with its themes and characters? Does it serendipitously line up with things going on in your life or in the news right now?

Tuesdays with Morrie* by Mitch Albom, which is a book about a dying professor who shares his wisdom with an old college student. When Breath Becomes Air* by Paul Kalanithi, another memoir about a neurosurgeon who receives a terminal diagnosis and writes about his journey to death while continuing to live in the process. I would also venture out to mention The Fault in Our Stars* by John Green, a novel about a young girl who believes she will die from her recurrent cancer but learns to live instead. These are all books that deal with a morbid topic but are still quite uplifting as well.

You know you judged this book by the cover. What did you think of it? How did it relate to the contents of the novel? And the font and layout of the pages?

I own a hardback copy of this book. The front cover is a reflection of some of the stories Pausch shares in the book. He tells about painting a spaceship on his childhood bedroom wall and of his dream to experience zero gravity. You could also say it's a metaphor for his preparing to depart this world for the next. There is also an embossed string that appears to be wrapped around the book, and this represents the gift of himself he is leaving behind for his young children.

Overall, I would say the design of the book fits the purpose. The book is simple. The writing isn't anything spectacular but it's honest and reflects who Pausch was as a person. The cover depicts this.

STARS | ★★★★★
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I give the book five stars based on the wisdom you gain from reading it. As I mentioned above, the writing isn't Nobel prize-worthy but, having been written by a man who was facing a quickly-approaching end, it is written with such grace and integrity and humor. He shares little bits of himself through stories and advice and photos that are meant for his children to remember him by and learn from as they grow older. The book is essentially a letter to them, outlining all the important things they should know and when you read it in context, it's quite endearing. You get a sense of the love he has for his family and how much it hurts him to leave them so soon.

Have you ever read any of the books I mentioned in this post? If so, I'd love to know what you thought of them.

This post is part of the #Collaboreads linkup with Rachel and Amber. For more info on how you can participate, visit Rachel's page for details.

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