Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Also reviewed by Emily

Summary: 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.

My Review: Before beginning this book I decided to watch The Last Lecture. I believe doing this added a lot of personality to the book that would have been missed otherwise. There is information in the lecture that was not included in the book and visa-versa. The two seem to be meant to go hand and hand. Therefore I would encourage anyone wanting to read the book to also take an hour and watch Randy Paursch's lecture.

I can't say that I got anything profound out of the book but a did enjoy the gentle reminders about how life is best lived. I loved the humor Randy was able to build into his examples. And I enjoyed that although the situation was sad, the book is in no way a pity party and for the most part is upbeat. Here are my favorite points from the book:

  • Don't use material things to communicate your identity to others
  • Don't obsess over what other people think
  • Don't complain, just work harder
  • Show Gratitude
  • Give EVERYONE a chance to impress you
  • Brick walls are there for a reason, not to keep us out but to show us how badly we want something
  • Go out and do for others what somebody else did for you
  • Always tell the truth
  • All you have to do is ask
  • There is power in humility
  • Don't have specific goals for your children, encourage them to develop their own
My Rating: 4 Stars, a quick, easy and pleasant read

If I had to sum this book up in one sentence it would be: A reminder on what's really important in life.

2 comments:

CurtisandMindy said...

I really liked your bullet points of the highlights of the book. It was like Last Lecture Cliffnotes...and a nice reminder to be a better person.

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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