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Before the Title, Past
A Nonfiction Column
By Jeff Shelby

One Little Book

I think most everyone makes some sort of resolution each January. It may be large or small, but beneath each resolution lies the implicit idea that we hope to make ourselves better people and improve our lives in the coming year. It may be personal or it may involve the entire world, but the idea is to make a change for the better. (At least, I think it is, because I've never heard anyone resolve to eat more chocolate, pray for conflict or to become a nastier person. That would be... weird.)

Anyway, I usually recommend a variety of books to kick off the New Year, but this year I'm recommending one single book, one that might help you stick to your resolutions.

Randy Pausch become a world-wide phenomenon when his Last Lecture to students at Carnegie Mellon University was posted on YouTube. The idea of a last lecture—a lecture intended as if it were the last a professor were to give—was not new, but Pausch's position as a terminally ill cancer patient gave greater depth and The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow meaning to his words. The simplicity and sense of humor that he displayed while talking about overcoming obstacles resonated with millions of people and someone was smart enough to put it all into a book.

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow is one of those books that you might read once, but will more likely read about fifty times, deriving new meaning from it each time. It's essentially an extension and fuller version of his speech, talking about how to achieve your dreams, the importance of pursuing those dreams and how to get through the tough times in life. Nothing ground breaking for sure, but just some simple, funny anecdotes and advice from a guy who loved living his life.

The book takes on an even greater poignancy now that Pausch has passed away since the book's publication.

So here's what I'm proposing to you in 2009. Get the book. Read the book. Keep it close at hand. Take a moment to read a page or two, each day or each week or each month. When you're thinking about your resolutions, maybe worrying about an obstacle in your path, go back to those pages. When you feel yourself falling away from the resolutions, use the book as a resource to find your back on track.

Or even better - buy the book and give it to a friend.

Happy 2009!!!

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