Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch is the last bit of wisdom that the engineer Pausch wants to leave for the world to see. He was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and sometimes professors would give "last lectures" and talk about what kind of wisdom they would impart upon the world if it was their last day. When Randy, father of three and faithful husband, learned he had terminal cancer, he decided he would do a real last lecture. He actually knows that his days are numbered and it makes the Last Lecture all the more intruiging. He starts with talking about childhood dreams. As a kid he said he always had very specific things he wanted to accomplish before he died. He accomplished all of the things on his list and he wanted to tell the world that people should really try to achieve their childhood dreams, because they make life all the more wonderful. He then talks a little about his life, and how living as a staunch optimist really helped him through the years. A good piece of advice he gives is that obstacles are only put in our way so we can show how much we want it. the book goes into a section about how it is as important to help others achieve their childhood dreams as is it to achieve your own, and little will feel as good. He later discusses all these tactics for living your life to the fullest and getting what you want from it. At the end he reveals that the reason he gave this lecture and went so in detail about his life was to give his kids a decent understanding of him after he passes away.
1. If you knew you only had a few months to live, what would you do?
2.What do you feel is more important, achieve your own dreams or helping others do the same?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

John Tyree is a staff sergeant in the Army Special Forces. While he is on leave during spring break, he meets a girl at the beach named Savannah Lynn Curtis. He is walking along the beach when he sees that Savannah dropped her bag over the edge of the dock and John ran in the water to get it for her. They meet and over the two week period while he is home, they fall in love. Savannah takes John back to her house for a barbeque where he meets her family and friends. He meets Tim Wheddon and his son Alan, who has autism. Savannah meets John's father where she finds out that they do not have a close relationship because his father is only interested in his coin collection. Savannah mentions to John that Tim may have autism like Alan. John gets upset over her assumption and they get into a fight. In the process of their fight, John accidentally punches Tim. John feels bad and apologizes. Savannah and John make up. John's leave is up so he must go back to enlist in the army. They begin to have a long-disance relationship through letters. John was planning on leaving the army but when 9-11 occured, he re-enlisted. Over the next two years, they correspond through letters. One letter John recieves informed him that Savannah has been engaged to someone else. John is deeply depressed by her news. John soon after is informed that his father has had a stroke. He returns home and goes to the hospital where he found that his father has died. He goes to visit Savannah where he finds that Savannah has married Tim and that Tim has cancer. He is informed that Tim is confined in a hospital where he is in need of an experimental drug but they can not afford it. John goes to visit Tim in the hospital where Tim tells him that Savannah is still in love him John but Tim is happy that there is someone to take care of his son, Alan. John sells his father's coin collection and puts the money toward financing Tim's drug. The generous donati0n saved Tim. John and Savannah meet again when she goes out on her farm to look at the moon to remember all the moments she has spent with John.
1. Do you think two people could fall in love in two weeks?
2. If John would have been home, do you think he could have saved his father from dying?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a memoir about a family who made life an adventure without any money. Jeannette's father was famous for checking out "Rex Wall's style" - not paying the bill. As a child, it seemed like Jeannete was grown up. She knew there was no Santa Claus-those other kids were dumb to be fooled by their parents. It did not faze her to wait unil a couple days after Christmas to use other people's wrapping paper to wrap their gifts or to use their thrown away Christmas tree. There were times when they slept on cardboard, played with rocks and fought over the only food in the house - a stick of butter. They travelled all over and lived off what they could - it seemed natural to her. Her father was always looking for the big deal so he could build the Glass Castle. What is interesting is that Jeannette gets the "glass castle" but it is not the greatest thing in her life. She has everything money can buy, but at a cost that she had not anticipated when fulfilling her dreams.

A. Would you rather be poor and happy or rich but unfulfilled?

B. How would you overcome not having any money, terrible living conditions and parents who were mentally unstable?

Melinda Doolittle

This autobiography is about of one the most unforgettable, selfless contestants to ever grace the stage of American Idol. Melinda Doolittle, from season 6 had an insprational journey to get herself where she is today. Although she only made it to top ten, she sang her songs with all her heart and touched many souls with her sweet sounds. Her life was not always easy, she was poor growing up, and says that God has gotten her through every obstical life brings. Praying is her answer to everything. When Melinda was a young teenager, she auditioned for the grammer-school chior. They let her in because of her charisma, but said she was not good enough to sing; they asked her to lip-synch so that her voice would not be heard. Melinda was not offended by this, she was just happy to be apart of the music. One day, when she was in a shoe store, Melinda heard Whitney Houston on the music system and she has been her inspiration ever since. Melinda wanted to sing in a talent show but no one believed in her except her mother. She prayed and prayed and when she got on stage a beatiful voice rang out shocking everyone in the audience. After that, she was asked by Roz Thompson to be a back-up singer. Her phone started ringing off the hook and she soon became a professional backgroud singer. Then, she tried out for American Idol season six, and made it into the top ten. "without God...I'm tone deaf," Melinda said.

1) Would you have been insulted to be asked to lip-synch in a chior? Would you quit the chior if they asked you to do that?

2)Would you have the nerve to sing alone in a talent show knowing you've been shut down many times before then?

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green tells the story of Miles, a teenager who is unsatisfied with his daily life and his "school friends." Thus, he decides to leave his dull life and go to a boarding school, Culver Creek. Once there, he meets his roommate, Chip, better known by his nickname: "The Colonel." The Colonel takes Miles to Alaska's room to buy some cigarettes. Now Alaska is pretty darn sexy, and Miles develops strong feelings for her throughout the entire story even with her moodiness and impulsiveness. A faster pace of life is provided for Miles as he Alaska, the Colonel, Takumi (another student), and Lara (another other student) play pranks, drink, and smoke themselves into oblivion. This continues at least until one faithful night. The Colonel, Alaska, and Miles are hanging out in a barn drinking and Miles begins to find out that Alaska may have feelings for him as well when she dares him to hook up with her. Unfortunately, Miles' romantic encounter with Alaska is cut short when she becomes very distressed and runs out of the barn and drives away in her car, completely wasted. The next day, news breaks to the school that Alaska died that night when she hit a police car. Miles and his friends are absolutely distraught. They search for evidence as to whether the death of Alaska was suicide or was indeed accidental. Her death forces Miles and his friends to face issues about life and death that they had never thought much about before. The book ends with a prank by Miles and his friends that is thought up by and dedicated to Alaska when a male stripper performs at a school assembly.

1) Miles leaves a stale life in his hometown behind in search of the "Great Perhaps" or the search for a better life full of risks. Would you remain in the safety and boredom, or would you take the risks of a better life?

2) Should it really matter to Miles whether Alaska's death was suicide or not, or should he accept it as death and nothing more?