The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

November 17, 2011
By Anonymous

Professor Randy Pausch of Carnegie Mellon University one stated that “we cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” These wise words are a result of Pausch’s inspirational story that can be found in his book The Last Lecture. In this memoir, Randy is diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and has only months left to live. He was then asked to give a common final lecture to leave his legacy amongst his pupils, coworkers, and most importantly, his family. As a dying man with little time left on this world, Randy was able to see the good and ended up delivering a talk on lifelong dreams and really living. I highly recommend this novel to anybody that appreciates provoking stories because of the intelligent layout, appropriate narration, keen characterization, perceptive themes, and stimulating story as a whole.

One reason I advise people to read this book is a result of the reasonable layout. Six sections are included which divides the subjects and in turn make it easier to read. This is shown by having a page at the beginning for sections instead of chapters. “I. The Last Lecture / II. Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams / III. Adventures...and Lessons Learned...” Rather than jumping back and forth between ideas, they are easily found in their similar collection. Also, this is a nice sized book with 206 pages and includes pictures here and there. On page 49, a picture of Randy at a carnival with a giant stuffed bear is displayed, which is relevant to his childhood dream of winning a giant stuffed animal. More so than just exhibiting the photos, they are from actual slides from the lecture he gave which helps create a better feel of how the speech was actually delivered. The design made for better quality of the novel altogether, which is one reason everybody should check this out.

Another reason everyone should read this book is because of the relatable collection of anecdotes. Every chapter is based on an incident from Pausch’s life which in turn makes the book as a whole much easier to bring in to play in one’s life. One example of this is on page 108 at the end of a story from when he ignored a price mess up while getting groceries. “So I left the store, happier to have fifteen minutes than sixteen dollars.” Most people would be able to relate to the common circumstance involved. The included stories can be applied to many people’s lives and often affect them for the better. Because of the applicable variety of narratives, people should read this story.

One more distinct characteristic contributing to the need for people to read this is the unique characterization. Each person included in his narrations are explained on more of a personality level rather than described using, say, their appearance. When Pausch begins to describe his wife on page four, he says “Jai has always been my cheerleader. When I was enthusiastic, so was she.” This helps show how Jai was supportive and loving of her husband no matter what life brought them. Everybody incorporated in his stories are somehow involved in a new lesson and his strong description supports them. With help from the uncommon characterization, any readers should look for this book on the library shelves.

Another reason everybody must read The Last Lecture is that almost every chapter has a new and one-of-a-kind theme. Since they are all based on separate stories, something different can be learned in each of the chapters. One example is, “time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think.” Referring to his recent realization, Pausch gives insight to the readers. The numerous informed themes can be found throughout the whole book, supplying people with another reason to read this.

One last reason everyone needs to check this book out is because of the inspiring story as a whole. Professor Pausch didn’t have to give this final lecture, but he wanted to do it for not only his students and colleagues, but his three young children who wouldn’t come to know him. “‘It will help them understand who I was and what I cared about,’” he tells his wife about his decision (8). He also says that “many people might expect the talk to be about dying. But it had to be about living” (9). The fact that Randy was able to make the best out of his situation and continue to think about his family that would have to continue on without him is admirable. When pulled over by a police for speeding, the cop found it hard to believe that Randy was a dying man. “‘You know, for a guy who has only a few months to live you sure look good’” (104). Because Pausch was focused on the positive and enjoying his finite time, he therefore appeared much better on the outside. Almost everything about this memoir sparks a commendable change in behavior and thoughts because of its heartwarming factors and overall positiveness. All readers should steer towards this book because of the altogether inspiration Pausch’s life and lecture give off.

So anyone who enjoys inspirational books should definitely read Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture because of his logical layout, applicable narration, observant characterization, wise themes, and all around encouraging story. The displayed layout makes sense for this type of book and most of the narratives included can be easily applied to people’s lives. Characters are described on a higher level and are well illustrated. Many different, yet thoughtful themes can be found and the whole story is very inspirational and thought provoking. So the next time you’re looking for a good read, check out The Last Lecture.

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