5 out of 5 stars
Cut to the Chase:
This was a moving memoir by a former computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon. It’s not a professionally written book, and I don’t it’s fair to compare it against those… it is exactly what it proclaims to be: the last speech/lecture/lesson, giving by a dying man, and sharing some of his fondest memories, and translating how he applied some of life’s most important lessons. It is sincere and heartfelt. It’s honestly not a whole lot different than the lecture itself, available on YouTube, but I found it moving enough to own a copy of the book anyhow.
Randy Pausch was a computer science professor who gained fame when he gave his Last Lecture (which was filmed for some of his former students and colleagues who couldn’t make it, and then went viral). Originally a series of lectures that were designed to have professors ponder what they might say if they were only able to give one more lecture, for Randy Pausch, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer (and who passed away in 2008), it was not hypothetical. (He even talks about how he finally “nailed” the venue!)
The lecture (and thus this book) was all about “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” and in it, he recounts his various failures (and how many of them translated later to successes). Almost all of his dreams involve extraordinarily entertaining anecdotes (how you can choose to be Tigger, as opposed to Eeyore, how to meet/be Captain Kirk, and becoming a Disney Imagineer). He speaks to you pretty much directly, and walks you through why he had these dreams, and how he accomplished all of them (and how failing, sometimes, was just as good of a lesson, e.g. playing the NFL).
Honestly, yes, a lot of the lessons are a little cliched, and I don’t know that this will completely transform/change your life, nor is it the most well-written/crafted book. But it’s clearly written, completely engaging, and quite heartfelt… which is what I want and expect in a book like this.
Comparisons to Other Authors:
I think that this is similar to some of John Wooden’s books and memoirs and/or some of Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays etc books. I liked this probably as much as my favorite Wooden book and more than Albom’s novels.