Monday, May 05, 2008

The Last Lecture

I recommend Randy Pausch, with Jeffrey Zaslow, The Last Lecture (New York: Hyperion, 2008). As most of you know, Pausch is the CMU computer science professor dying of cancer who received a lot of attention for giving a "last lecture" at CMU. His book builds on the substance of that lecture and offers an interesting commentary on life and the academic community. As his recounts about the lecture, "I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children. If I were a painter, I would have painted for them. If I were a musician, I would have composed music. But I am a lecturer. So I lectured" (p. x). I am going to use this book as the first reading in my doctoral seminar this fall -- LIS 3000 Introduction to the PhD Program -- which focuses on professional schools in research universities. It will be an interesting means to get students to think about why they are doing a doctoral program, considering the end right at the beginning.


Anonymous said...

Inspiring and popular reading. Some doctoral students have already done this, i.e. "consider the end right at the beginning", many have also lived it-without reading the Pausch book. Graduate students are also cancer survivors, why assume that they are not? Why assume graduate students do not seriously consider why they are pursuing doctoral programs?

Anonymous said...

How inspiring Randy Pausch is! If you liked "The Last Lecture", another fantastic memoir I just read and highly recommend is "My Stroke of Insight" by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor. Her TEDTalk video ( has been seen as many times as The Last Lecture I think, and Oprah did 4 shows on her book, so there are a lot of similarities. In My Stroke of Insight, there's a happy ending though. It's an incredible story! I hear they're making it into a movie.