Saturday, June 28, 2008

Book Review : The Last Lecture

Book : The Last Lecture
Author : Dr Randy Pausch with Jeoffrey Zaslow
Publisher : Hachette India
Price : Rs 295

Book Review #6

I happened to come across the name Randy Paush accidentally . I happened to read the Time magazine featuring an inspirational lecture of a Carnegie Mellon University professor who was detected with a terminal cancer.

That hooked me and a Google search on Randy Pausch landed me on the lecture and the book.

The story of Randy was somewhat like a Bollywood movie. A high flying computer science professor at a very young age detected with cancer and then becoming a celebrity with one speech.

Carnegie Mellon University has a lecture series where it ask eminent academicians to make a lecture assuming that it will be their last lecture. The series was aptly named as Last Lecture.
When Dr Randy was approached by the university, he was already diagnosed with pancreatic cancer . So it was destined to be his last lecture.

Like the true American spirit , Randy talked about hope rather than death . The lecture which was uploaded in Youtube spread like a wildfire inspiring millions.
The lecture lasts around 1 hour 45 minutes and time will run fast once you get hooked on the message

Watch the video here : Last Lecture

Randy titled the lecture as " Really Achieving your childhood dreams " talked about achieving what you always wanted.
The phenomenal acceptance of the lecture across the world prompted the publishers to persuade Randy to write a book. The book was written by Jeoffry Zaslow and Randy. Everyday the professor will ride the bike in his neighbourhood and he spoke to Zaslow through his cellphone headset. Thus after 53 bike rides , the book was born.

Ofcourse the book became a best seller owing to the basic life funda that the professor was talking about.

This book was one of the few books I finished reading at a stretch. I felt a change in my self after reading through.
The book is divided into two parts . The first part details the actual lecture he delivered at the Carnegie Mellon. The chapters gives you more insights and background about how he achieved his childhood dreams. The second part gives the Professor's view about ' how to live ' .

What struck me in this book is the following phrase " Time is all you have and you may find that one day that you have less time than you think".

Yes we all know that! . We know that one day we will die so what ? We Indians have a typical way of dismissing the very notion of death.

But there is a big difference between information and realization. When you read this book , if you are lucky ,this truth will be revealed to you.

Another lesson that struck me was about obstacles. Dr Randy likens obstacles to a brickwall. Brickwalls are there for a reason. They give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Only those who want it so badly can scale that brickwall.

He also talks about the basics of better living like
Aiming high
Showing gratitude
Being childlike
Never giving up etc

Although these lessons have been much talked about in different books, I felt that these lessons carry more authenticity coming from a man who knew that his days are numbered.

Last Lecture is a book I recommend because ,more than inspiring, it will bring you back into reality and the present.

Dr Randy Pausch gave the Last Lecture on September 18 , 2007. Although at that time doctors gave him 3-6 months of life, the professor is still alive fighting the disease.