November's theme was Giving. I sort of cheated and read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. I say cheat, because it's the December book for my other book club, so I'm double dipping here. I do think that since it's a spin-off of a lecture that Randy gave, and it was mostly written as gift to his children, it totally qualifies.
I became interested in this book after watching Randy's Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon university. The book talks about how he prepared for the lecture and his reasons for giving it, but also adds to some of the content. Randy mainly gave the lecture as an opportunity to leave some words of wisdom for his young children, but I believe there's a lot that the rest of us can take with us.
Randy "wrote" the book by dictating into a recorder during his exercise time, and it was then transcribed by Jeffrey Zaslo. It therefore doesn't read like a book - the voice is very much Randy's, and he does repeat himself quite a bit from chapter to chapter. It's quite clear that it isn't a through-written, continuous work, but a collection of vignettes of stories, anecdotes, and personal philosophies. It's a very quick read. While I did enjoy the book, I did get tired of much of the repetition. In my opinion, watching the Lecture is much better.
For me, the most important advice that Randy gives is his appreciation of the people in his life - his parents, wife, siblings, children, colleagues, students. He reminds us that you should never be so busy that you can't show your love and respect for the people who have made you who you are and who inspire you to be even better.
In any case, it was a worthy read. I was genuinely saddened when I heard of Randy's death this last summer. Take an hour or so and watch the lecture - it's well worth your time: