Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Book Review 2: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Title: The Last Lecture
Author(s): Randy Pausch & Jeffrey Zaslow
Genre: Non-fiction, Self-help, Psychology
Publishing Date: April 8, 2008
Publisher: Hyperion 
ISBN: 978-1401323257
Price: $13.17 at Amazon.com
Summary: "We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."
--Randy PauschA 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.

My Review: I received this book as a graduation gift from a favorite High School teacher of mine. I remember the exact date that I received it (May 25, 2008) and as soon as I got home from Project Grad the day after my graduation, I cracked it open and began reading.

Many schools have a "last lecture" series, where professors give a lecture, pretending that it is their last. In this "last lecture" the professors are supposed to touch on things that are important and meaningful to them. They are to leave behind a bit of advice, a legacy so to speak. Carnegie Melon has a series like this, and ironically, for Randy Pausch, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Melon, his "last lecture" really was his last. Now, I could tell you all about his life. About how he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, went through treatments which ultimately failed, and how he was given just three to six months to live, however, I think that Randy's story deserved to be read, so please click here to learn more about Randy's life.

The book The Last Lecture stemmed from Randy's "last lecture" at Carnegie Melon. Both the book and the lecture were meant for his young children, so that they would have his words and something to remember him by. However, because his lecture was such a hit, Randy along with Jeffrey Zaslow decided to pen this book, which is really just a written extension of the lecture.

In The Last Lecture, Randy talks about many different things, giving advice, and sharing lessons that he has learned throughout his life, hoping to pass those lessons down. Ultimately, though, he talks about achieving your childhood dreams and about how he had the opportunity to live out his own childhood dreams throughout the course of his life. 

I first read this book as a high school graduate, about to embark on my first year of college. I was scared, I would be moving away from home and I was unsure about how to deal with myself. But through this book, I was reassured in so many ways. I learned to keep my head up and to be optimistic, I learned how to get through those "brick walls" that life so readily offers us, and so many other things. Mostly, though, I realized that life is precious and how we handle it determines where we go. 

I want to tell you all more about this book, but I want you to read it for yourself. Randy Pausch is truly an inspiration. Even if you don't normally read "self-help" books, I encourage you to pick this one up. It's a quick and easy read and you'll find yourself thinking and rethinking about so many different things!

Overall Impression:

I am so grateful to the teacher who gifted me this book, for thinking about me and for knowing that this was the inspiration I needed in my life. 

Here are some interviews that Randy Pausch did before his passing regarding this book and his last lecture:

For more information on Randy & his Last Lecture please follow these links:
The Last Lecture book website
Randy Pausch's Personal Webpage
Randy's Last Lecture Site

Randy Pausch passed away on July 25, 2008, just mere months after the publication of his book and less than a year after his Last Lecture talk. He surpassed the doctor's predictions of him living for only three to six months, by living for eleven months after his diagnosis.

May Randy Pausch Rest in Peace and may his memory live on for the sake of his beautiful children and all of the people he has inspired throughout the world.

Happy Reading!

1 comment:

SMS in Hindi said...

Do not tell people how to live their lives. Just tell them stories. And they will figure out how those stories apply to them.- The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch is a heart-breaking yet heart-warming book. It made me contemplate the real value of my life .

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