Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Last Lecture

by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow

My sister has recommended this book to me several times, and I have resisted reading it for months. With the recent, sudden death of co-author Jeffrey Zaslow, I surrendered and obtained a copy of this book from the library.

Randy Pausch, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to deliver “the last lecture.” Such a lecture is common in academic circles; it is a chance for the speaker to consider what matters most to him and share it with others. Pausch’s last lecture was particularly meaningful, as he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The lecture, “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” is about living, not dying. It is about overcoming obstacles, seizing the day, and appreciating all of the people in your life.

I have really mixed feelings about this book. While I appreciate Pausch’s general philosophies of life, the book left me feeling empty. Pausch wrote a book about himself, and all I could think was, who cares? It was mere coincidence that this “last lecture” exercise was really his last lecture. The cancer diagnosis and the young family he has left behind just play on people’s emotions. In truth, there is very little substance to this minor tome. It is just the sort of drivel that makes the bestseller list—more sentiment than content.


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