The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch — Book Recommendation

For the balance of this time of alphabetical blogging, I intend to focus on recommending books I’ve read that have particularly touched me. Thanks for joining me in this reading journey. You might also be interested in following my personal challenge to read a picture book every morning, which I’m posting about on my Facebook page (link in the sidebar.)

Today’s book is one that has been around for nearly ten years, but I’ve only recently become aware of it. It is inspiring and challenging. I’m grateful that I’ve read it.

Title: The Last Lecture

Author: Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow

Publisher: New York: Hyperion, 2008.

Genre: Adult, biography

Audience Age: 18 and beyond

Themes, topics: Living, dying, getting the most out of life, realizing your dreams, leaving a legacy

Opening Sentences: [These are actually the opening lines of the introduction.]

I have an engineering problem.

While for the most part I’m in terrific physical shape, I have ten tumors in my liver and I have only a few months left to live.

I am a father of three young children, and married to the woman of my dreams. While I could easily feel sorry for myself, that wouldn’t do them, or me, any good.

So, how to spend my very limited time?

Synopsis: This small but mighty book and the “Last Lecture” that spawned it are Randy Pausch’s answer to that difficult question.

Through short chapters that touch on an almost limitless array of topics under broad headings such as Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, Adventures … And Lessons Learned, Enabling the Dreams of Others, and It’s About How to Live Your Life, Pausch tickles the reader’s funny bone and touches the reader’s heart.

What he said to his wife as they faced news of his latest scans, which they were certain would reveal that his cancer had returned, encapsulates his philosophy as he moved into the last phase of his life: “Even if the scan results are bad tomorrow, I just want you to know that it feels great to be alive, and to be here today, alive with you. Whatever news we get about the scans, I’m not going to die when we hear it. I won’t die the next day, or the day after that, or the day after that. So today, right now, well this is a wonderful day. And I want you to know how much I’m enjoying it.”

He goes on to write “That’s the way the rest of my life would need to be lived.”

Through his words, he shows us the importance of enjoying life right up to the end, of working to achieve our dreams, of telling people how much they mean to us, of truly living while we are alive. While that might sound like platitude upon platitude, as I read I could tell that he really meant – and lived out – what he was saying.

This book and the lecture it grew out of provide a great guide for living life to the full. I highly recommend it.

For Further Enrichment: You can find his full “Last Lecture” on YouTube.

His New York Times obituary is here. It, too, is inspiring.

The book is now available in an enhanced ebook edition — I haven’t checked it out yet, but here is the link to the Carnegie Mellon site which lists it.

L is for Last, and Lecture. It is for Legacy. It is also for LIFE and LIVING.

5 thoughts on “The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch — Book Recommendation”

  1. Pamela Courtney

    Oh, how this post has intrigued me. Thinking this is my first must have of the year. Thank you Beth.

    1. It is excellent, Niamh. He seemed to be eager to tackle the topic, particularly to leave a legacy for his children and also to the world.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top