The Last Lecture

By Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow

By: Sophelia Martinez

Summary of Book

The Last Lecture is a book about a professor, Randy Pausch, who had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. He has decided to give a last lecture at Carnegie Mellon; the university he worked at. The lecture was basically a compilation of all the important moments in his life. He starts off by talking about the things he wanted to do when he was a child, and how he achieved his goals and make more goals for himself along the way. He also talks about how his life began to change when he and his wife found out that he had cancer. The idea of making this book came to him because he had children and they are all young. He wants them to have something that they could remember and know him by, so that was the main point of this book. He gives examples of how he overcame obstacles, how he helped others achieve their dreams, and shares stories of life in general.
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Most Memorable Thing

There are many memorable things about this book, but the most memorable was just his determination in life and how he never gave up on his dreams. Personally, I always have certain dreams set and someone or something comes along and destroys the dream. Randy, on the other hand, does not let anybody stop him and does all that he can to achieve what he wants. Seeing or hearing about other people and what they do to get the things they want motivates me to go out there and try getting the things I want. He also never stops when he achieves what he wanted to achieve. Once he reached the goal he was hoping to reach, he goes on and makes more goals for himself. Knowing that you are going to die is something really tough, I would imagine, and he still went on with his life and tried to tell others some important things he learned throughout his life.

Most important word

The most important word would have to be "appreciate."

It's important because sometimes people get so caught up in their own world trying to accomplish something, that they forget to appreciate the things that they already have. It is important to set goals for yourself, but you can't forget that you already have things in your life that also matter. People sometimes forget to appreciate the fact that they have people who care, a house, and even good health. Nothing is ever guaranteed in life, so you should always remember to appreciate everything you have in your life before you complain about what you don't have or can't have.

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Most important phrase

“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.”

I believe that this is the most important phrase because I feel like this whole book sort of revolved around the idea of not giving up. He shared stories from his childhood all the way to his life before passing, and it was all about how hard he tried. He always had his parents motivate him in a way and that made him want to achieve his dreams. Some people say they want to do something, but stop when times get difficult. If someone truly wants something, they will find a way to fix the problem and they will knock over this "brick wall."

Most important quote

"We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand."

This basically says you can't change some things in life, so you have to learn how to adapt to the situation and make the best of it. Sometimes things that suck will happen and you will want to complain about it, but it's not going to change anything. You have to make the best of the worst. That is very true in most cases and it is something that I will always remember. A lot of people, including myself, complain about things that we can't change, so we should just learn to accept it and make the best of it.

Questions I still have

I know he talked about his parents and how they were a little tough. He said that about his mother, and I just want to know if he actually wanted to do the things he did or did his parents expect a lot from him? His father did a lot with his life, and I just wonder if he felt pressured to do things that might not have been things he wanted to do.

Who would i recommend this book to?

I would probably recommend this book to people who need a little bit of motivation to get stuff done. I don't really think age matters as long as you get something out of the book. Obviously I wouldn't recommend this book to a kid who's little or can't read some of these words, but maybe starting at high school. Starting high school is when people have more goals or things they want to achieve but seem impossible. I think it can help inspire people to want to do things and it just gives some good advice on certain situations that life might throw at us.


  • Bravado: bold; kind of like showing off
  • Gallows: in this context it meant humor that is about something unpleasant, serious, painful, etc.
  • Roused: wake up
  • Tinkering: adjusting
  • Palliative: soothing