The Last Lecture book review. Seems easy enough to do. But this book has haunted me, making the task of reviewing it slippery and elusive.
Cynicism is hip and it’s trendy to be jaded. I’m not immune to it. I learned recently, however, that I’m also not immune to inspiration. There are things that don’t make me roll my eyes. Events that give me perspective. I wouldn’t call The Last Lecture a book. I would call it an event. So many people say that a book has changed their life. They never change. Me either. But this is something very different.
The Last Lecture makes me want to be a better person
Randy Pausch taught computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. As a husband and father of three young children, his diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in 2006 was a devastating blow to him and his family. There is no cure–Randy was told he could expect another three to six months.
Randy Pausch lived until July of 2008, exceeding the doctor’s expectations. Before he passed, he gave his own version of “The Last Lecture.” The Last Lecture is a university tradition in which a professor who is retiring distills his teaching and life experience into one final lesson. It is the last chance to say “You were my students, this is exactly what I wish for you to remember me by.”
Pausch’s lecture was called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” The body of the lecture comprises stories from Randy’s life which illustrate different ways in which he achieved his childhood dreams.
Few things are indescribable. The Last Lecture is really, really, really hard to describe, and I’m pretty good with words. Just typing this out brings the book back to me and I’m sitting here with goosebumps trying not to let my eyes tear up. I have never been this affected by a book. I doubt I ever will be again, unless one of his children decides to write a book about their dad. Actually, I hope I am never more affected a book: I’m not sure I could survive it.
Cynicism and pessimism are overrated
Going into more detail would cheat readers of the joy and heartbreak of letting this book unfold for them. I’ve been forcing it on anyone who will listen, especially my loved ones. How nice it is to realize that people can still be scientific, brilliant, educated, kind, compassionate, and optimistic. How wonderful that Randy Pausch left us all with such an exquisite gift.
I believe everybody should own The Last Lecture. If you never buy it, please check it out at the library. You’ll be doing yourself a favor. Then give it to someone you love.
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