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5 Books like The Last Lecture: Motivating Your Inner Self

Kedar Prasana itcherTime is always right to read some truly inspirational books like ‘The Last Lecture’ to keep yourself prepared for what life has in store for you. This list of books, with ‘This is Water’, ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’, ‘Meditations’, ‘The Story of My Experiments with Truth’ and ‘My Inventions’, should                           help shrug off the blues. ~ Kedar Prasana

Living a Fulfilling Life, Against the Odds

TOO MANY people go through life complaining about their problems. I’ve always believed that if you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out.

I have always been a little apprehensive of self-help books, without really knowing why. Even though ‘The Last Lecture’ doesn’t wholly fall under that category, it certainly has helped me realize that the ‘self-help’ genre indeed does hold some earnest and honest gems that rise above generic advice churners (‘live on your own terms’, for example) and undeserving sales-ladder climbers.

‘The Last Lecture’ is a series of snippets, lectures, anecdotes and heartfelt messages that Randy Pausch, a Computer Science Professordelivered after realising he has just a handful of weeks to live.

This book, without a doubt, will come as a friendly reminder for you to get off your backside and do something with your life, much in the same spirit as the books listed below.

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Books Similar to ‘The Last Lecture’

‘This is Water’ (David Foster Wallace, 2009)

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The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad, petty, unsexy ways every day.

For unexplainable reasons, David Foster Wallace has, through his life and works, always fascinated me. A manifestation of troubled genius, he was a man who, despite struggling to be really articulate, always made good points.

Take ‘This is Water’, for instance. This book, a transcript of a speech really, gives us an acute insight into a fabulous mind that had to face monumental uphill battles.  

In his own inimitable style, characterized by flashes of brilliance and occasional roadblocks, DFW pretty much sums up what it is exactly to lead a life of compassion. The video of the speech can still be found online.  

Similarity Match: 95%
Despite sharing the very same theme of addressing college audiences, ‘This is Water’ transcends shorter and more provincial boundaries of personal life set by ‘The Last Lecture’.

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‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ (Joan Didian, 2005)

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How could this have happened when everything seemed normal?

Books, as Mark Twain famously said, are friends that show up in difficult times. ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’, for those who are unfortunate enough to have to nurse griefs, has all the potential to be that friend.

Written in the aftermath of her beloved husband’s death, Didion goes to astonishing lengths in order to create this stunning text that takes turns from being a stern admonisher to a mellow soothsayer.

Similarity Match: 90%
Didion and Pausch present an utterly moving picture of their life after tragedy. Didion, however, employs extreme research in her book, while Pausch resorts to a more personal approach.

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‘Meditations’ (Marcus Aurelius, 180 A.D.)

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Your mind has all the power you need. If you think you need help from the outside, you couldn’t be more ignorant.

Meditations’ is a rare delight. The only text written in fullness by the then-incumbent Roman Emperor, it is a no-nonsense guide to learning the power you harbour within yourself, and a great philosophical discourse for the not-so-philosophical.

A fruit of hours and hours of intense meditations that Marcus Aurelius carried out, the book follows a form of short advices, notes and thoughts that can help you learn more about yourself than weeks spent at expensive mind-power sessions and seminars.

Similarity Match: 80%
In emphasising the ability of one’s own to help themselves sail through any passé, ‘Meditations’ is very much a book like ‘The Last Lecture’. The former, however, was never meant for the world to read, unlike the latter.

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If You Like ‘The Last Lecture’, You Will Like…

Some readers may want to categorize ‘The Last Lecture’ as a semi-autobiographical book.

Taking that idea forward, let’s take a look at two out-and-out impressive biographies that you would want to keep handy at all times. 

‘The Story of My Experiments with Truth’ (M. K. Gandhi, 1940)

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‘Hate the sin and not the sinner’ is a precept which, though easy enough to understand, is rarely practised, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world.

To be perfectly blunt, you cannot read this masterpiece in self-righteousness by one of the most influential men of the 20th century without feeling motivated to the core.

Written in an easy-going, simple prose devoid of any pretence, Gandhi takes his readers on a spiritual journey that leaves them with a lot more answers than questions.

The text of this book is easily available in the public domain for those who want quick access.

‘The Story of My Experiments with Truth’ and ‘The Last Lecture’ share the same agenda – to help the readers onto a path of goodness. However, it is Gandhi’s tall stature that makes the former manifold more rewarding.

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‘My Inventions’ (Nikola Tesla, 1915-20)

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I pity those who call me a genius. I have never managed to do a simple thing as keeping my finances in order with success.

Quite simply the most important inventor of all time (take that, Edison!), Nikola Tesla published a detailed account of his inventions that doubles up as his autobiography for the years 1915 to 1920.

As a reader, what impressed me the most about his writings is his ability to shrug off successes and failures with an aplomb befitting a yogi. After reading through the accounts of the man who gave us the power (quite literally), you can be quite sure to feel that itch to change the world around you for the better.  

‘My Inventions’ can be a bit technical in nature at times, unlike ‘The Last Lecture’. But both of them allow us a peek into two minds that have got loads of things to teach us.

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What Keeps You Going?

We all need that extra push at times to keep us moving through this maze of life. Books, in that sense, are great pushers that you can count on any time, any day.

If you love to keep yourself motivated, you can further add these title to your highlighter shelf: ‘A Moveable Feast’, ‘Steve Jobs’, ‘Losing My Virginity’, ‘Into the Wild’ and ‘Long Walk to Freedom’.

Feeling inspired yet? Do let us know your thoughts and comments below!

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