Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture was an amazingly positive combination of autobiography and life advice from a CMU professor terminally ill with pancreatic cancer. Captured both on film and as a book, it became an inspiration to thousands all over the world. The advice I liked the best was his emphasis on the importance of feedback, even negative feedback – Randy wrote that when someone gives you feedback, it’s a sign that they care for you, and you should get worried when you no longer get feedback, not by critical feedback.
Randy’s wife, Jai, figured in the video of The Last Lecture when Randy cut a cake in honour of her birthday. Now Jai Pausch has written her own book on Randy’s illness and life ahead. The really poignant and emotional parts are of course focused on discovering Randy’s illness, the ups and downs of his treatment, and the discovery that they had reached the end of the road. I found these parts extremely moving.
But Dream New Dreams is also very practical. How do you deal with the emotional trauma of your husband dying when you have 3 very small kids? How do you prioritise your time and activities? What do you tell the kids and when? And how do you re-build your life after the inevitable? Jai gives eminently actionable advice on how to address these issues.
To be honest, while I was really moved by the first part of the book, I found the last few chapters a bit of a drag. The flow was not as smooth, and the book became preachy at points. But, overall, a good read.