Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Book Report: The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch

If you'd like to mess up a man who's just over forty and wondering what to do with his life, then I strongly recommend a one-two punch of the book The Last Lecture and the movie The Bucket List. If that combination doesn't cause existential agitation, nothing will. But I digress (can you digress before you've even started?).

The Last Lecture is a companion book to Pausch's Last Lecture, given at Carnegie Mellon University shortly before his death from cancer. The lecture is all about achieving your childhood dreams, but it's also a love letter to his family and a legacy for his children. The book goes into Pausch's thoughts and feelings before, during, and after his address, touching on events in his life and expounding on the details surrounding many of the things he only mentions in the lecture.

The anecdotes and observations are simply presented, easily read, and very affecting. Knowing that Pausch wrote in the shadow of his own death, and that he has since died (10 months after giving the lecture), gives the words a poignancy that is truly heart-breaking. In every line you can hear a man almost desperate, not so much to leave something behind, but to send something into the future, a future when his children might be old enough to come across his words and understand a little about the man who helped create them but could not live to see them come into their own.

A tremendous book.

Ulysses Rating: 4 - I loved this. It would be a 5, but I don't think I could bring myself to read it again.

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