The Last Recommendation

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I’m studying to be a librarian. Any time I tell people what my major is, the first thing they ask me is, “Oh. Well… what’s your favorite book?”


Asking me to pick my favorite book is like asking a mother to choose her favorite child; I can tell you which qualities I like about each of them, but they’re unique and interesting in their own ways, meaning I could never truly have a favorite.


I always try to turn the question around, asking if they would prefer a recommendation instead. Not everyone wants one, but of those who do, I have two stock answers prepared.


If the person asking is someone who I believe would like a thought-provoking, intense, novel, I always recommend The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I go on to explain that it’s about a girl in Nazi Germany who grows up in a foster home, but by this time the person I’m talking to usually starts to tune me out, so I don’t get much further. I will say this, though: I may not have read this book in five years, but I still believe it’s one of the best books that has ever been written. Read it. I promise you’ll love it.


If, on the other hand, the person to whom I am speaking is looking more for a whimsical story or an intriguing romance, I recommend the much lighter Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella. I can’t remember if I’ve written a review up here on it before – and I’m too lazy to go check – but it’s one of the few books I make sure I reread at least once a year, especially if I’m feeling particularly blue. It’s about a girl who thinks she’s going to die during a plane ride and spills all of her secrets to the stranger sitting next to her, only to find out a few days later that this stranger is, in fact, her boss. This is probably one of the best love stories I’ve ever read, even if most English teachers would turn up their noses because it’s not one of the “classics.”


Until today, those were the only two books I’ve ever felt the need to recommend after “cold-reading” a person. If I know someone better, I can always personalize the recommendation more, but in most cases I’m talking to someone I barely know in an extremely brief interchange. This person doesn’t usually care about recommendations, s/he just wants me to prove that I know what I’m talking about. Today, though, I finished another book, one that I feel that I need to run out, buy, and mail to everyone I know rightnow. I’ve learned the importance of not overselling things, though, so I’ll be brief in my excited little spiel:


Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture will change your view of life.


I know there was a time where this was the only thing that everyone could talk about, but I simply couldn’t bring myself to read it – or watch the actual lecture, for that matter. As of this writing, I still have not seen the lecture, but that’s because, as a rule, I avoid things that will make me cry. That’s most of the reason why I put off reading The Last Lecture for so long: this book will make you cry. It just will. I thought I’d be able to hold out, but I barely made it halfway through before my eyes started to get all prickly and annoying. I only just put it down five minutes ago, and the first thing I thought to do was write about it.


…After I dried my face and collected myself, of course.


The Last Lecture has just become my automatic go-to book for recommendations, and now I’m recommending it to you. Read it. Seriously.





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