Thursday, September 2, 2010

Book Review - The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

I opened the book with a sense of eager anticipation. I had read about the book and had heard several comments on its value. It was a very different read than I anticipated, but I am glad for my encounter with this work. It is probably the most pleasant book on a journey toward death I have ever read.

If you come to the text looking for the linear story of Paul Pausch's journey toward his last lecture, you will find elements of it, but the journey is frequently sidetracked with childhood stories that shaped him, life experiences that inspired him, and observations on life and living that emerge from his core beliefs. The book feels much more like a running conversation than it does a traditional autobiography. But, this unique characteristic is what makes this short text so powerful. The reader gets the sense that you are walking with Pausch in his journey toward his final lecture and that he is eager to share what he has discovered and is discovering along the way. It would have been easy for the book to claim the heavy weight of death as the writer comes to terms with his own mortality. But, Pausch carries the reader a very different direction. Instead of claiming a morbid tone he offers a hopeful spirit and a deep appreciation for the people and experiences that had defined his life story. You can palpably feel the love he has for his family and the pure joy he has found in teaching and leading others in a process of creative discovery. This small book serves as a testimony of life in the shadows of death. It also provides a glimpse into the author's faith that sustains him in his journey. The cancer that claims his life does not define him, the living of his life and his invitation walk at his side does.

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