The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

landing_LLTitle:  The Last Lecture

Author:  Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow

Hardcover:  207 pages

ISBN:  9781401323257

Brick walls are there for a reason.  They give us a chance to show how badly we want something.

Grab your box of Kleenex because you’re gonna cry, most of the time they’ll be tears of laughter, but some of them will be from heart ache.  OH! and  Don’t forget the pen and paper, because you’ll want to take notes.  Professor Pausch is taking the stage for The Last Lecture.

Pausch covers the elephant in the room in his opening paragraphs:

I have an engineering problem.  While for the most part I’m in terrific physical shape, I have ten tumors in my liver and I  have only a few months left to live.

I am a father of three young children, and married to the woman of my dreams.  While I could easily feel sorry for myself, that wouldn’t do them, or me, any good.

So many things in this book are deeply inspirational, and that’s no surprise; he’s dying from cancer and that’s given him a chance to step back and say, “What legacy am I leaving?”  Much of them are simple concepts like, “Tell the truth, it’s not only morally right but efficient.”  Some are more profound like, “one customer-service decision over a ten-dollar salt and pepper shaker [ended] up earning Disney more than $100,000.”  But all of them are worth saving, writing down, reciting, and implementing, because Randy Pausch lived a life that saw almost all of his childhood dreams come true.

My Childhood Dreams

  • Being in zero gravity
  • Playing in the NFL
  • Authoring an article in the World Book encyclopedia
  • Being Captain Kirk
  • Winning stuffed animals
  • Being a Disney Imagineer

My mom turned me onto this book a couple weeks ago when I was telling her about whatever book I was reading, and she told me she’d just read a really great book.  Now, my mom doesn’t say a book is great very often… in fact, a lot of the time, they barely make much of a blip on her radar.  I’m not saying she’s a picky reader or critical, but when she ONE remembers a book and talks about it and TWO applies the “great” stamp to it, it’s a book guaranteed worth reading.

And I was definitely NOT disappointed.  The copy I have came from the library, but I will be buying my own copy.  I wish I could keep this one though… it smells lovely, reminiscent of the Viewfinder we played with when we were kids :-)

Send Out Thin Mints

As part of my responsibilities, I used to be an academic reviewer.  That meant I’d have to ask other professors to read densely written research papers and review them.  It could be tedious, sleep inducing work.  So I came up with an idea.  I’d send a box of Girl Scout Thin Mints with every paper that needed reviewed.  “Thank you for agreeing to do this,” I’d write.  “The enclosed Thin Mints are your reward.  But no fair eating them until you review the paper.”

… I’ve found Thin Mints are a great communication tool.  THey’re also a sweet reward for a job well done.

Okay, so… Publishers and authors:  I now expect Thin Mints with each book you’re wanting reviewed :-D  It was worth a try!  Chapter 55 says, “Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.

Long and short of it:  The Last Lecture is full of common sense, community sense, wisdom that is worth reading and re-reading.  It’d make a great belated Father’s Day present, or a gift to anyone, including yourself.  I give The Last Lecture  by Randy Pausch 5 out of 5 stars.

You can watch Randy’s Last Lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” which was the genesis of this book, it’s an hour and 16 minutes long and worth it :-)

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13 Responses

  1. This book sounds great. I am watching the video as I type and so far he is really good, such a great speaker.

  2. I really did enjoy this book!

  3. I’m sure this is a wonderful book and I’m sure I’ll cry if I read it. Great review.

  4. I haven’t read this yet, although I think my mom has it. I have a feeling that while inspirational, I think it would make me very sad.

    • It doesn’t make you sad, per se, but rather, appreciative for life. I mean, here’s a man who had so much life, and he received a death sentance of a diagnosis, but he chose to take that time to live like he was going to live. He stayed optimistic, not in denial of his condition, and created a legacy of love for his kids. The humor and truth in the book, as well as the fact he’s blunt about his condition, makes you forget about the “sad” part about it.

  5. You’ve just sold me on this book. I’ve seen it around at lots of places, heard that it was good, but never actually picked it up and looked at it. Thanks for a great review.

  6. I watched the Lecture on You-Tube, and it was very moving.

  7. My coworker lent me this a few months back, and I really enjoyed it. Dr. Pausch was an inspirational guy. I keep meaning to watch the lecture itself, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

  8. The book as well as the video had a great impact onme. I loved the book.

  9. [...] try an experiment.  I just recently read and reviewed The Last Lectureby Randy Pausch and it’s one of my new favorite books, but does LT think I like [...]

  10. I read the book, and although I LOVED parts of it, I remember being somewhat annoyed by others, although I don’t remember why. I did unreservedly like the lecture.

    I think very inspirational and a little sad are both good descriptions.

  11. I saw Randy Pausch on 20/20 after his lecture but before the book came out. I was transfixed by him. He was an amazing man, a fantastic speaker and he certainly appeared to be a wonderful husband and father. I watched all of the follow ups they did about him on the show and read his book as soon as it came out. I got a library copy too but I plan to buy this one eventually. It’s one of the few I would read again. And you’re so right about his message, it’s all about appreciating life. And while it’s a very sad situation, he wasn’t a sad person. He really knew how to live and was very funny. His parents were inspirational as well and gave him a creative, loving foundation. This was a great review!

    Thank you also for your kind words on my blog. My cousin has taken a turn for the worse and we are on opposite sides of the country from her. I’m at a loss right now and don’t know what to do. I appreciate your kindness and your sense of humor. You always make me laugh and I really need that right now.

  12. [...] I also picked up a couple books that I’ve read before and loved, but no longer own like The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Salinger’s Franny and [...]

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