Friday, June 19, 2009

Review: The Last Lecture

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” —Randy Pausch
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.

First I would like to acknowledge for the idea of putting the official book description at the top of my reviews. I liked it so much I followed the idea...hope you don't mind...
I recently finished The Last Lecture for another online book club and really found it refreshing and special. It isn't often that you pick up a book about someone's final days due to a terminal illness and don't spend the entire time crying. Mr. Pausch wrote - with the help of Jeff Zaslow- a touching legacy to leave his children. Upon learning of his terminal diagnosis he wanted to know that his kids would have something tangible to remember and get to know their father. This book will do exactly that. They will learn that he was full of life and joy and believed everyone should not only have dreams but should try to fulfill them. It is full of those cliches that everyone says all the time and never really thinks about. It breaks them down so you can understand just why they matter and what you should be doing with the knowledge. I have to admit that every once in awhile I found him to come across a bit arrogant, but I felt okay about it. This was a book for his children to know all he accomplished by pursuing dreams and to know the depth of his love. So, if it sometimes came across as a book to list those things then it did exactly what it was supposed to. He took all of those realized dreams and the times he had a true friend or mentor "put him in his place" and found a way to take a part in raising his children even when he is gone.
I found the writing to be easy to follow. It is a book I would like to encourage my teenage daughter to read, because I would like her to learn these lessons before she is out on her own in this world.


  1. Great review for a great book. I love your writing style. I am thinking this would be a great book for a Family Relations class in high school. Or even a read-aloud for a class like that. One of my favorite chapters was "Be the First Penquin"----"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted." Probably because I am "old"---almost every chapter makes me call up life experiences that I have encountered. I have definitely had a few "First Penquin" experiences. Another favorite chapter was , "A Bad Apology Is Worse Than No apology"---definitely a good lesson for young and old alike!
    Allison, thank you so much for sharing this first read with me. I am anxious to see what Kacee thinks of it.
    I would love to hear your thoughts on "The Shack". I read it two summers ago, and reread it this winter. It definitely makes you look at things in a new way and have some "ah-ha" moments.

  2. Hi Allison! Well, the comment above said almost exactly what I was going to say :-)

    I haven't read this book, but it sounds like it would be a wonderful selection for a high school book club or sociology/humanities class(As well as being an author, I'm also a school librarian - we're always keeping our eyes open for such things).

    I thought you wrote a very nice review for it too. I like the way you told us not only what the book was about, but how it made you feel while reading it. Thanks for sharing!

    ~ Melanie Nowak

  3. Karen - Thanks for the positive comments. I hope Kacee enjoys the book and visits the blog too. I am considering rereading The Shack and reviewing. I loved that book!

    Melanie- thanks! So nice to have an author stop by and say positive things. Karen is a retired teacher so you guys would probably think alike. :) I love your series and I will be doing a review of it on here as well. If I just had the 4th book I could review that. :) When I do the review I will put a link to it on your FB page.

  4. I think "The Shack" is one of those books that you get more out of each time you read it.

  5. Great review! I also love all the things you did with it! The background and header looks terrific.

  6. Thanks Julie! I took the picture on the header with my cell phone. I was pretty proud of it so I made it the header. I am going to do some reviews of independent authors I have read on my Kindle and some more well known books on here. Melanie who posted above wrote a great vampire series called Almost Human. they are now available paperback as well. I think I will review the series soon. Awesome books!

  7. This is a great review! I have been wanting to read this book all summer but can't seem to find my copy. I think I left it at school. I hope to find it soon so I can read this one. I want my students to read it too.