Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Book Synopsis: The Last Lecture

I'm a little behind the curve on reading the latest best-sellers. But then that means I can get them at the library or really cheap used. So, I finally got around to reading The Last Lecture by (the late) Randy Pausch.

If you're like my husband, and unable to read or talk about death, then this book will not be enjoyable for you. But if you're like me, and you've already faced your own mortality, the mentions of death, mortality and illness won't bother you. That's not really what the book is about- it's about living life fully. But to understand why he is giving the lecture, you have to know the circumstances of his life. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, one of the scariest cancers with the highest mortality rates. He was given months to live. According to his blog, he seems to have lived 2 years after diagnosis, thanks in part to a radical surgery shortly after diagnosis. Randy and his wife had 3 young kids, and he had a career he loved, so he had every reason to live, and this lecture was his attempt to bottle up everything he wanted to tell their kids once they were old enough to understand it. We just get to listen in. The lecture was given live at the university where he worked; they actually had a legacy of "last Lectures," where, strangely enough, professors were asked to give a lecture addressing "What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance." And the author was asked to speak in the series.

The book is not a transcript of the lecture. It was written afterward, as Randy went on long bike rides and his co-author transcribed the conversation. It's something of a memoir, but Randy tries to squeeze in as many life lessons as possible throughout. The most tangible, practical advice is contained in his time management section. When you haven't got much time to live, you haven't got any to waste, so here's a guy who knows the value of time management. FYI, it is not really about conquering or living with illness.

I found it an easy, uplifting read with some good advice on conducting your life.



Right now I am reading Eat to Live. I actually had lunch at the same table as Dr Fuhrman and his wife yesterday. They live what they preach and are very passionate about nutrition and healing. More on that soon. My progress on that book may be slowed a bit by my intermittent reading of David Leee Roth's autobiography (gotta balance out that Last lecture seriousness somehow, right?)

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