Book Review: The Last Lecture

A couple of years ago, I had read The Last Lecture* by Randy Pausch. I decided this would be the book I would read again as part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2016 Reading Challenge. If you have not read the book, let me set the scene. Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie-Mellon University has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has only months to live. During this time, he has been asked to participate in the last lecture series. If you had one last lecture, what would it be? He delivers his last lecture and much more.

If you have not had time to watch his last lecture, I encourage you to do so. Here it is:

Much of what he wrote in his book can be found in the lecture; however, there are many lessons found in the book that are not in the lecture.

Pausch’s book was published in 2008, the same year that he passed away. The book and last lecture video are a lasting gift to his wife and children. In them, he shares lessons he has learned throughout his life. The book is 207 pages long distributed over six major sections and 61 chapters. Each chapter is only three to five pages long and focuses on one valuable lesson. The major sections include:

  • The Last Lecture
  • Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams
  • Adventures… and Lessons Learned
  • Enabling the Dreams of Others
  • It’s About How to Live Your Life
  • Final Remarks

In the first section of the book, Pausch discussed the idea of the Last Lecture, how he became involved, the negotiations he had with his wife to do it.

Some of my favorite sections of the book and lecture focused on his childhood dreams, his adventures, his lessons learned, and ways to live in the moment. Throughout his book, he presented an amazingly upbeat attitude in spite of the circumstances. Each chapter has a lesson, and it is presented as a story. Some of the stories he shared include floating in zero gravity, being printed in the World Book Encyclopedia, meeting Captain Kirk, working for Disney, and more.

Personally, I think this would be a great gift or even mandatory reading for college students everywhere. Many of the lessons are common sense, yet they are not often employed.

If you have not watched the lecture or read The Last LectureI strongly recommend it. It is certainly a book that I will read multiple times in the years to come. There are some many lessons that he captured that are worth rereading.


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