Book Talk: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch



Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”


.Simply put, The Last Lecture is the last lecture from Randy Pausch — a computer science professor. He is diagnosed with cancer and comes to a place where he finds out it is terminal. He offers up his final lecture to a room full of students and colleagues and talks about achieving your childhood dreams, helping others to dream and achieve and thoughts on what it means to live.


a4I’ve been in a not so good place and honestly I kind of needed such a sobering read to make me think about life and the current status of things. Randy’s story touched my heart immensely and I sobbed quite a few times. Though sometimes it seems a little all over the place, I loved the wisdom of this man who was facing certain death and loved learning about him as person. I loved learning how he achieved his childhood dreams, the lessons he’s learned about LIVING in the face of death, what he wants for his family when he’s gone, etc.  He’s a stranger to me yet he bared so much of himself in this short little book. I wept for him, for his wife and for his kids. It wasn’t at all about dying but really about living. It was inspiring to be honest and just full of so much truth!

I dogearred so many pages because certain bits of his lesson resonated more where I’m at right now than others. And I think that everyone who reads this book will have lessons that will shake them up more than others. So much wisdom poured out of this one and I smiled a lot, too. I really want to take to heart some of the things that hit me.

I couldn’t help but think of my mom when I read this. Randy is a father and his children are very young and only one will probably ever have real memories of him. My heart broke because the fears that Randy had of dying were more about his children growing up without him…not about the actual dying part. It hit me really hard seeing it from the perspective of the person who knows they are going to die. It was actually really a gift to me and maybe kind of let me see my mom in a different light.

Some quotes I loved (so hard to pick from ALLL my dog-ears):

1. “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

2. “Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. I’ve always believed that if you took one-tenth of the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out.” Then later on in that section: “Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”

3. “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”

4. “The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have. ”

 5. “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I don’t seem as depressed or morose as I should be, sorry to disappoint you.”


factors+ honestly it’s mostly just HOW IT HIT ME kind of thing. Wise, wise man.
Nothing really. Sometimes it was all over the place but it was worth it for what I did get out of it.

Re-readability: Maybe not in its entirety but definitely the dogears.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? I have a copy that I had bought and it will stay on my shelf!

a5fans of memoirs, people who feel like they are in a rut and want to be inspired, readers looking for short non-fiction

a8The Last Lecture is a short little book packed with so much stripped down wisdom and lessons from a man who doesn’t have much time left because he has terminal cancer. I wish I could photocopy it into my brain to have it there every day to remember these lessons when I’m letting the unimportant things of life get in the way and distract me from what it really is to live. Honest, made me sob and one of those books that has something everybody needs to hear.


The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?


The Perpetual Page-Turner

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I read this book a few years ago and absolutely loved it! I’ve also been letting little everyday things bother me and after reading your review I’ve decided that I really need to go back and read it again.

    • It’s just definitely one of those books that puts things in perspective but not in a way that hits you over the head! It’s definitely a keeper on my shelf because I could see myself reading bits and pieces from it sporadically!

  2. I’m glad you posted this Jamie! I had watched the lecture version for a class and many things he said really resonated, including the snippet you quoted: “Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.” I needed to be reminded of that. So thank you! And I think maybe I need to read this book.

  3. I loved this book for it’s inspirational thoughts and messages. I, too, read it at a time when it was something I *needed*. I didn’t know it was what I needed, but it helped a lot. I definitely came away feeling like I needed to live better as well. My husband and I had been together for roughly ten years when I read it and it was the first time ever I handed him a book and said, “Here, you need to read this.” (And it got him started on reading more… so, woo-hoo!).

    I love the quotes you picked to share although, if I remember correctly, that had to be hard to pick out just a few. 🙂 Great talk and thanks for sharing. Even though I’ve read it it’s a great reminder of some of the things I got out of it at the time. To slow down, relish in the good, be Tigger and not Eeyore, complain less, live better, and appreciate all the good things.

    • I agree…I knew I needed SOMETHING and hoped this book would give me that. Definitely gave me lots to think about! Way to go getting your husband reading!!

      IT was SOOOO hard to pick only a few. I’m like…jeez at this rate I could just photocopy the whole damn book and post it 😛

  4. Jennifer B. says:

    I read this book a few years ago and then re-read it this summer! I absolutely love this book! It is so inspirational and had so many good quotes in it!

    I actually watched the Last Lecture in one of my high school classes years ago! It is just as emotional and touching as the book! I would recommend watching it when you get the chance!

    Thank you for your blog & for sharing your book review!


    • I think it’s definitely going to be one I re-read every so often too! I think I’m definitely going to watch it after you and a few other people have suggested!!

  5. My bestie bought this for me a few years ago (okay, so maybe like 5 or 6 years ago, because we were still in high school), but I just read it the first time a few months ago. I agree with you–so much good stuff! I marked some of the same quotes as you. I also liked a quote that was something like: “When you’re messing up and nobody says anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up on you. Your critics want you to do better.” As much as I don’t want to hear the negative stuff, I know it’s necessary to improve myself.

    Overall, this is such an inspiring book! I’d recommend it for anyone, especially since it’s a pretty short read.

    • YESSSS I loved that quote too. I’ve seen that to be SO TRUE in my life and is one of the reasons I love my husband..he isn’t afraid to tell me that kind of stuff.

  6. I’m not very into non-fiction most of the time and I haven’t heard of this one, but your booktalk makes it sound so good that I want to pick it up! I like how you said it was good to hear the perspective of the parent dying from cancer. I have no doubt that would be very hard hitting for me. I was too young to really understand things or have a real hard conversation with my mom when she was battling cancer and I have to say that I’ve spent years thinking of how I took it, and much less time thinking about what she herself was going through. Maybe I need this book. But I’m sorta intimidated!

    • It’s not as sad or as heavy as it sounds…promise!! There were bits that were..especially for those of us who have experienced loss like that. That part about how he felt leaving his children hit me hard as I’m sure it would you as well! I say give it a try. It’s so short and a quick read. Even if you just read a little section each day.

  7. I have not read this one, but I can tell you that I never feared dying with such debilitating intensity until my daughter was born. The thought of leaving her, of not experiencing her growing and learning and falling in and out of love, her wedding, her kids… it’s kept me up at night. But seeing how you and Ginger handle not having your moms, with such graciousness, has really made me believe that if I was to leave this world before getting to experience all that, Abigail would still get to live, and happily. So now I’m crying…

    I should really consider reading this book one day soon. I bet it would make me feel better about a lot of things. Thanks for your thoughts, Jamie!

    • *hugs* It must be terrifying to be a parent and think these things. I mean, I know I think them ANYWAYS but to think about it in terms of being a parent. Even harder I think. And I think that’s the thing…G & I had good support systems. Those “firsts” without the mom’s are hard. They are. I can’t deny that. But having a support system is what helps you. My wedding was really hard for me and I really got emotional when my sister had Genevieve just realizing she’ll never know her. ANNNND I was crying when I first read your comment and now I’m crying again while commenting. GOD EMOTIONS STOP.

      I say read it one day! It’s super short and will make you think! I love books that remind me of the important things!

  8. My sister was the one who recommended The Last Lecture to me years ago, because she had read and loved it. And I was super happy to read and fall in love with it too! Randy’s practical advice and his thoughts on life are really very honest and applicable to most of our lives, and I love that. It’s the kind of book I’d gift to just about everyone, mostly because it deserves to have a place on the shelf!

  9. heather says:

    This sounds like one that I would really enjoy reading. I am all into non fiction this year thanks for sharing this one.