The Last Lecture – Randy Pausch [TSS]

Title: The Last Lecture
Author: Randy Pausch
ISBN: 1401323251
Pages: 224
Release Date: April 8, 2008
Publisher: Hyperion
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 4 out of 5

From the dust jacket:

A lot of professors give talks titled “The Last Lecture.” Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can’t help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave–“Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams”–wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because “time is all you have…and you may find one day that you have less than you think”). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

The Last Lecture is a wonderful book about living life to the fullest. It’s not about having no regrets; instead, it’s about learning and taking advantage of each opportunity that comes your way. It’s about the small niceties of life, from appreciating your spouse to hand-written thank you notes. It’s about perseverance and determination, but also about humility and facing down your ego. If I had the time to reflect on my life, knowing it was coming to an end, I only hope I could come up with something half as good as this.

This book isn’t really sad, which surprised me. Of course, the pancreatic cancer was hovering over The Last Lecture the entire time I was reading it, but it isn’t about death. It’s definitely life-affirming. I can see that, in a lot of ways, this book was as much for Pausch’s childrenas it was for the general public. It’s a reminder that their father was a happy man who loved them more than anything in the world.

One thing that surprised me about The Last Lecture was the fact that the text of the actual last lecture wasn’t included in the book. I suppose that the entire book was a sort of last lecture, but it would have been nice if they had included the speech in an appendix. The book directs readers to the Last Lecture website, where they can watch the video of the speech. I’ve embedded it at the bottom of this review. (Warning: the speech is an hour and fifteen minutes.)

Dr. Randy Pausch succumbed to pancreatic cancer on July 25, 2008. This little book is a wonderful testament to his life, as well as a reminder for the rest of us to live our lives to the fullest. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone!

Comments

  1. I read The Last Lecture last year and it’s such a great book. There are sad moments but it’s not a sad book. You’re right it is life-affirming. Great review.

  2. The actual last lecture isn’t included in the book? I just assumed it would be. I’m glad to hear the book is a celebration of his life instead of a sad story.

  3. I would like to read this at some point. I always need to be reminded to savor life!

  4. I so want to read this book and I’m glad that it isn’t a real downer. It sounds like a wonderful message that I can never hear too often.

  5. It’s a bit strange that the “last lecture” isn’t actually included… still, sounds like a most worthy book. It’s good to know that it’s not technically sad – I have a tendency to put off books of that nature sometimes. I’ve seen this around – I’ll be sure to read it as soon as I can.

  6. I have been meaning to get this one.

    Circle of Friends

  7. I have really been wanting to read this, thanks so much for your excellent review! I would have assumed it was sad though, so I am glad I read your review, now it is even more interesting to me. Thanks!

  8. Actually, while it didn’t have the actual speech text, all the major points he made (and all the special moments) were mentioned in the book in one form or another. The book itself is like the adnoted form of the actual lecture. Why do I say that? Because when I watched the lecture video, after reading the book, I was surprised to see there were very few moments (three at the most, or even less) when he was saying something new, something not in the book.

  9. My sister ran out and bought this one as soon as it began gaining national attention, but she said she wasn’t up to reading it at the time! I’m happy to see you didn’t find it sad — that’s my biggest concern about reading The Last Lecture. Maybe now is a good time to grab it up!

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