Monday, October 27, 2008

Review: "The Last Lecture"

I'm not the first, nor the last, person to review Randy Pausch's book The Last Lecture. It's one of the top sellers of the year and a number of reviews have been written. Most of them positive.

My mother gave me "The Last Lecture" for a birthday gift. She had read it for a book club and thought it was the type of book you should buy, not borrow. She was right; this one should be on everyone's book shelf.

If you're not familiar with Randy Pausch he was a computer science professor from Carnegie Mellon who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. If you're not familiar with pancreatic cancer, it's nearly always fatal.

Educators have an age old obligation to give a last lecture. Since I hope to teach someday, I suppose I'll give one. They are a way of wrapping up your academic career.

Dr. Pausch's last lecture was different though as he was leaving for a different reason than most. He was dieing.

The book's first half is about him growing up. He shared his family life and background on numerous trips to Disney World with his father. The second half was a number of rules that he said worked for him in life. The one that sticks with me is how he recommends handwriting "thank you notes". They are more personal and carry more weight. I'm going to give this a try.

The book is heavy on the heart. He and his wife, Jai, didn't tell their three young children about his cancer until very late in dieing process. Books don't usually choke me up, but being I'm a relatively new father, I was brought to near tears when he would discuss all the things he would be doing with his children for the last time. Their last Christmas together; their last trip to Disney World; their last football game. Powerful stuff.

The book is a short read. I recommend it to all of you who would like to read about an incredible person and how they got the most out of dieing young.

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