Friday, December 5, 2008

Book Review Contest: The Last Lecture (reviewed by Dr. Tan Hui Leng)

It has been awhile since I read the book but my thoughts seem to return to the book often enough. This does suggest that there is much to be gleaned from its pages. Thus a book review seems timely.

To begin with, this is an easy book to read; only 206 pages long and the font is large with some photographs thrown in too! But be assured that those will not be the reasons why you are not letting the book go.

By now, many will know that Randy Pausch was a Carnegie Mellon professor in Computer Science who has since passed away on the 25th July 2008. When he received “his news”, he was in the final stage of pancreatic cancer. As a father to three children, Randy Pausch had lessons that he wanted to pass on to his children when he was no longer around. Since he was a university professor, he chose to do so in the way he knew best; a lecture and a book.

In that sense, reading this book is enjoying the privilege of a “sneak” look into a private matter of a father’s lessons to his children. Randy Pausch collectively calls his lessons “Achieving your Childhood Dreams”.

The lessons are laid out very simply. There are many personal anecdotes to drive these lessons. Close to my heart is his appreciation of his parents; “I won the parent lottery”. Personally, I have not heard many adults attribute success or happiness to their parents (perhaps, I am moving with the wrong group!) as they are more wont to speak of their spouse and children. The strong family orientation in many of the lessons as in “The Elephant in the Room”, “The Elevator in the Ranch House” and “Romancing the Brick wall” is indeed heart-warming.

Randy Pausch has a very candid approach to matters; his great sense of humour comes through very well in the book. There will be times you will laugh out loud. It is amazing for a writer who is looking death in the face to carry this easy spirit and optimism through the book.

However, in his final remarks, as he addresses his dreams for his children and begins “to speak to his wife, Jai directly”, a more sombre mood comes on. Many may shed a tear, as I did. Yet you will not feel too sad for too long for here is a man who will continue to be a husband, father and professor even after he has long passed on. The last lecture is indeed a clever legacy to leave behind. It is also a must-read for us to reflect on our lives and circumstances, making better people of us perhaps?


whloo said...

Dr Tan...great review. Let me do one on Bonnie Hicks's book this favourite idol.Just love her writings..too bad she's no longer around.

aZie said...

Pretty neat review for this one man...
really gets some stuff up my head..hahaha.. :P