The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch



Randy Pausch was young, an inspiration, hard-working, family man.  He was a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon… and he had terminal cancer.

When asked to give a lecture about life and act like it is your last lecture… Randy did not have to pretend.  He knew very well this would be his last lecture.  Yet instead of lecturing about dying, he chose to talk about LIVING.  Randy’s lecture included dreams from his childhood, over coming obstacles, not taking no for an answer when you really want something, enabling others to dream, and seizing each moment as none of us know which will be our last. 

With humor, brutal honesty, and a sprinkle of intelligence, Randy pours his heart into a lecture he hopes will be a life lesson for his small children who would grown up without him, but not without what he stood for and believed in.  Randy’s lecture, is a love letter to his family – and a message of hope and strength to the world.


What I love about my book club, response #2049.  😛  I jest, but you all know I love my book club.  Smart, incredible women who gather once a month to talk on one of  my favorite subjects…. books. 

In May, this was the book that was chosen for our June read.  What I love about this is that a few years ago… this group of

Part of the Bookies Book Club (14 of us total)

women would not have touched this book.  It would have never won the vote.  Why?  One its non fiction and we do not do a whole lot of that as a group.  Two, it is a pretty serious and the potential to be a sad read and my book club – at least a few years back, would have avoided that for something lighter.

By review time – I did not have this book read.  Since they picked it I had been to New York for a week for BEA, two large bike rides on the weekends, and a nasty injury that threw me off my game.  I also could not find it in my library and really did not want to order it, not knowing much about it.  When it did come in for me at the library it was in audio and it was also the day of the review. 

There is always food at Book Club :)
There is always food at Book Club 🙂

Their discussion… made me want to read it all the more.

So finally – after a crazy trip to Chicago, I had time to tune in and catch up and here is what I thought of The Last Lecture.

My thoughts…

Randy Pausch has a gift of words.  I entered into this read knowing very little about Randy, or this lecture which apparently is now quite famous.  What I learned quickly is that Randy did not lack for self-esteem.  He saw what he wanted and went after it.  End of story.  He speaks of this in The Last lecture as “brick walls”, advising that when we come up against a brick wall we are to keep on trying to get over it, be it a personal opportunity, a job deeply wanted, or, as in Randy’s case – a death sentence.Randy and his three children

Yes, I can see where Randy may come off as arrogant, but as I ended this reading…. I didn’t think so.  It’s probably a fine line between arrogance and drive and Randy rode it right down the middle.  Where most of us would probably wilt under the weight of Randy’s diagnosis, Randy seemed to be energized.  In the 18 months from diagnosis to passing, Randy used this time to prepare his family for life without him, including moving the family to a home closer to his wife Jai’s family so she would have help with the kids after he was gone. 

This book was a firm reminder that life is what we make of it, we choose our responses in every situation… Randy lived life to the fullest as long as he was able.  With a quick wit and sharp mind he reminds us to never give up on our dreams, seize the moments, overcome all obstacles. 

I laughed a little, I cried a little and am glad to now know a little of who Randy was.


Pausch died from pancreatic cancer at his family’s home in Chesapeake, Virginia on July 25, 2008, at the age of 47. He is survived by his wife, Jai, and their three children, Dylan, Logan, and Chloe

Good Reads Review

I have updated the 2011 WHERE Are You Reading to include The Last Lecture


Borrowed from my local Library

13 thoughts on “The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

  1. I’ve avoided reading this one as I know I’ll be reduced to a bucket of tears. Got a little teary reading your review, as I remember hearing about this when it first came out. I even taped a story about him, but still haven’t watched. I might just have to grab a box of tissues and finally read this one, as Randy sounds like an amazing man!

  2. This is one of my favorite books EVER. Not too long after it came out, radio host Michael Smerconish (who is based here in Philly and who I LOVE) had Jeffrey Zaslow as his guest for his book club. I went and it was a fascinating talk from Zaslow about working with Randy on the book and more insights into him as a father and as a person. Since it’s so short, I have this one in our guest room in case someone hasn’t read or heard of it yet. (I’m just hoping no one wants to borrow it!)

  3. I read this book in 2008, and watched his YouTube videos and the Diane Sawyer interview with him, which I recorded on my DVR and will NOT let my husband delete. He died shortly after it was taped. Such an inspirational man, and such a shame he’s gone too soon. I should reread the book, thanks for reminding me of that. Another book I’ve read since his that is very complementary and life affirming is Patricia Digh’s 37 days. She has a tremendous website too. Happy reading!

  4. I have been hesitant about reading this, for the sad factor. I think I might give it a try. If he can be brave and inspirational while living with a diagnosis like his, I can certainly be brave enough to read his words.

  5. Sheila, have you watched this lecture? It’s there on youtube. You should see it. It was so beautiful, so moving. I was crying through the last half, but like you said, it was all about living and not dying.

  6. I remeber liking this one a lot, but Randy’s extreme self confidence did put me off a little. That being said, it is a book that I will go back and read again, just to remember to appreciate life!

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