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The Priority List: A Teacher's Final Quest to Discover Life's Greatest Lessons

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  882 Ratings  ·  175 Reviews
In this poignant and inspiring memoir, a beloved high school English teacher with terminal brain cancer undertakes a cross-country journey to reunite with his former students in order to find out if he made a difference in their lives, discovering along the way what is truly important in life.

At thirty-four years old, David Menasche was diagnosed with brain cancer. Six yea
ebook, 224 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Touchstone (first published 2013)
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Aug 23, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, first, if someone has a terminal illness it does not automatically mark them for sainthood. I will never understand this way of thinking. Secondly, if a person has a terminal illness I would suggest having someone else write your story. Do not write about how you inspired other people and how great of a person you are as it comes across self indulgent, arrogant and unlikeable. Third, what really bothered me was how he complained about his wife and the wo is me attitude and feel sorry for m ...more
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

I am so torn in regards to this memoir.

There is no doubt David Menasche was a wonderfully gifted and dedicated teacher, his passion for his career and the testimonials of his students prove that. As a teacher myself I am inspired by those colleagues who are not just educators but also mentors to their students. This man's passion for teaching is heartwarming and inspirational and that he made a difference for many of his students is not in doubt. Any teacher, or student, could, and should, lear
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the end of The Priority List I found some good wisdom, or rather recognized the wisdom that could be gleaned from this book. First, you don't have to be a spectacular person to be a positive influence. Second, live the day you've got, you don't know how many you've got left. And third, do the positive action today because every positive action you do now is one that can never be taken away from you! I think I have just now realized this very moment that when the student is ready, the teacher ...more
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I would have gone with 1.5 stars, but decided to round up due to the author's situation. I'm sorry to rate this book in this way, but I really didn't enjoy it. The best parts were when he quoted his favorite authors. A dynamic, committed English teacher does not a writer make.
But more than the writing, was the way I felt reading it. I kept thinking, "This it what others should write about you, not what you should be writing." It irritated me the way Oprah's good deeds do when she's waving them a
Mrs. Stock
The story of some of David's last adventures before succumbing to brain cancer is inspiring, but the book itself is fairly dull. The whole thing is vague, most of his story being short recollections of lots of students in restaurants. I did like the comments from former students at the end of most chapters.
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great book to get me to 75 books for the year! Inspirational story!
Donna Craig
I swung between enjoying this book and feeling like the author overdid his personal involvement in his students' lives, his obsession with the job, and his telling of his accomplishments. I don't know; this book was off and on for me. He seemed too into his students, not enough into his home life. It frustrated me to see it coming, and know that it's a true story.
Meital Ben-Daniel
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: about-teachers
An excellent memoir of Menasche's journey to visit his students, 15 years after he taught them as their teacher. His journey takes place while he is suffering from cancer and is searching for a meaningful "closing" to his impending death. It seems at time morbid, but is full of hope, love, meaning and compassion.
Being a teacher in her first years, I found a lot of hope and drive in Menasche's teaching of his students and the way he looked at life ....
Recommended not only to teachers!
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy (less perfect than what will be on the store shelves) of this book free through First Reads. But I still loved it.

This book is ridiculously good.It deserves six stars. It is terribly inspiring. It raises important questions. It tells the story of a good man and a great teacher. I hope I can have a teacher as wonderful as he someday.

He's almost at seven years of cancer, practically blind, and he traveled the country and wrote a book about it. A really good
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookclub
I feel kind of bad giving this kind of book a low rating...but 2 stars is honest. For being a short book, I found it kind of dragged at parts. I guess I am just not personally inspired by reading about how inspirational he was to his students. Sometimes it even came off slightly self-glorifying. After a while I started completely skipping the little "you are an amazing teacher" sections written by some of his students.

There were some good and interesting thoughts scattered throughout, but overa
Jun 08, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-for-me
Seemed like an attempt to replicate the work of Randy Pausch at the high school level. It's sad that this teacher is terminally ill and losing his sight and mobility. His quest to connect with former students often seems self-focused and he makes his wife seem villain-y without explaining his own less-than-committed behavior. He did not inspire. Enough bashing.
Andrea Delucia
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Andrea DeLucia
Ms. Peritore
The Priority List
April 8, 2014
The Priority List by David Menashe is an inspirational true story about what’s really important in life. As a high school honors English teacher in a charter school in Florida, David lived for his work. He dedicated his life to his students and taught them many valuable life lessons. At age thirty four he received a devastating diagnosis of malignant terminal brain cancer. He continued to teach through chemotherapy, surgeries, seizures, an
Vera Neves
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sdl, 2015
Qualquer pessoa que, num qualquer momento da sua vida, já tenha sido aluno, desejou encontrar um professor como aquele que conhecemos neste livro. Não é fácil colocar por palavras as emoções e os sentimentos contraditórios que A Lista de Prioridades nos faz sentir.

David Menasche desde sempre que quis ser professor e fornecer aos seus alunos as bases que lhes permitissem decidir, escolher e seguir um caminho, ao longo das suas vidas. Estimulá-los, fazê-los pensar, dar-lhes as ferramentas para que
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This beautiful, inspirational memoir should be on everyone's "to read" list. It WILL change your way of thinking about life and what it should mean. I promise!

David Menasche, a devoted husband and gifted teacher, was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 34 and made the decision to live the fullest, most meaningful life possible in the time he had left. As a high school teacher, he had effectively incorporated life lessons into studies of literature, earning the unconditional love and respec
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Follow my year in books at

If you’re ever feeling snowed under, overwhelmed or just plain old sick of it, I would recommend two days rest and a strong dose of The Priority List. This amazing memoir reflects on the life of David Menasche, a Miami schoolteacher with an unmatched passion for his work. When a diagnosis with terminal brain cancer eventually leaves him too disabled to teach, Menasche sets off to travel solo across America, on a journey to visit the for
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
„Той беше един от онези учители, които ти се падат веднъж в живота. Техните уроци ги помниш дълго след като си напуснал класната стая. Той не просто ни учеше, той ни вдъхновяваше.“
Обичам истории за учители и то точно за този тип учители! За тези, които казват за учениците си „Това са МОИТЕ деца!“ Вдъхновяват ме! Зареждат ме! Обогатяват ме!
Дейвид Менаше е такъв учител. Той не просто преподава, той запалва в учениците си плам - да обичат това, което учат. Предизвиква ги да мислят извън стереотипит
Teresa Bateman
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most people wonder how they would face death. As a rule we avoid the subject. There are, however, those for whom death is not an abstract future thing, but a more immediate, recognizable entity. When that happens where do you place your priorities? David Menasche was a teacher who sought to inspire his students, and help them recognize their potential. When brain cancer struck he taught as long as he could, then was forced to give up the career he treasured. As a final act of defiance he finally ...more
Jason Lilly
I'll admit, this was an occasionally uplifting read. I admire Menasche's dedication to his students and to the art of teaching. His impact on his students is undeniable, as are the impacts of millions of other teachers in America.


Menasche made some very irresponsible, unprofessional and selfish decisions that really bothered me. He spends a portion of the book concerned that he and his wife are growing apart. And yet... most of his close friends are women... In spite of his growing med
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an inspiring book. David Menasche had a job he loved at a Miami charter high school. He was a gifted teacher who taught his students lessons about life as well as poetry and literature. He sounds remarkably effective and I wish I'd been that kind of young teacher. Mr. Menasche was diagnosed with a rare and fatal brain cancer. He continued to teach while suffering the effects of chemo and surgery. He was honest with his students about his prognosis but refused to give in. His health event ...more
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If only all teachers were like David Menasche!

Thanks to good reviews in NYPL, I decided to read this book. It's a remarkable, honest story of a high school teacher's journey who lives his life according to his passion and conviction--not even terminal cancer can get in the way.

David (Da-VEED) Menasche develops his love for teaching by accident in college and goes on to teach honors English students at a brand new gifted high school in Florida. He exemplifies EXTRAORDINARY in every sense as a t
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks Josh for recommending this book to me. It was just what I needed to read this spring break!

David Menasche was a high school English teacher for 15 years who only gave up teaching after his brain tumor left him barely able to see or walk. His book, subtitled "A Teacher's Final Quest to Discover Life's Greatest Lessons," is a mixture of the lessons he taught in his classroom, his journey across the United States to visit past students, letters from those he has taught, and what he has learn
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Many people would have a negative view of the world after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, but not Menasche. He was able to maintain a positive tone throughout the entire book. This tone made the story inspiring instead of depressing. Even at his lowest points, when he was feeling alone and sorry for himself, he was able to keep going. He transferred this positive energy into his writing. The book left me laughing and smiling at the stories he told. I learned that in life, there will always ...more
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Downloaded this on a snow day after I saw a recommendation on Facebook. It was a quick read. It reminded me in some ways of The Last Lecture and also Tony Danza's story of becoming a teacher. It was so full of passion and energy, it just carried you along with its enthusiasm. The author coping with the death sentence of a brain tumor was a more complete teacher and role model than 99% of the world, healthy. I loved the sections in which he recounted episodes with particular students he had taugh ...more
Cathy Caldwell
I was so excited to read this book. I also was very inspired by Menasche and his devotion and dedication to this students, especially in light of his diagnosis. I am honestly not sure that I ever had a teacher quite that dedicated, although I did have some that I found inspiring and that really cared about me, which seemed to be his gift. I did find myself wanting to know a bit more about the priority lists and didn't feel they played as prominent a role as I thought they might.

Unfortunately, th
Angela Holland
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say I really enjoy this book. When I first heard about it I knew at once I wanted to read it. Then when I started it I realized it was not quite what I thought it was going to be but I continued reading and am very glad I did. I could not imagine going through what David is going through and then to stop treatment and leave home without a plan is a pretty brave move. Reading David's story and what he did for his students was worth the read. After reading this book I can only wish that ...more
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a teacher, I am so often discouraged by the seemingly insurmountable job that I have been tasked with accomplishing. David Menasche was a teacher who felt this everyday yet was excited to take on each day's challenge even when he got cancer. There are letters through out the book from former students who tell of their experiences in his class. I am not arrogant enough to think that I can, or will, have this level of impact on my students but this book helped me see that what I do does matter. ...more
Miluju knihy s podobnou tématikou a Mělo to smysl?! je úžasným dílem a já vám ho mohu vřele doporučit. Já si tu knihu jednoduše zamilovala a jsem neskutečně šťastná za to, že existuje. Rozhodně se jí nebojím nazvat jednou z nejlepších knih, jakou jsem kdy četla. Mám tendenci se neustále opakovat o tom, kolik vám toho ta kniha ukáže a dá, ale to není dobrý nápad a proto vám ji už jen naposledy doporučím. Nejsem si jistá, jestli mám právo hodnotit něčí život počtem hvězdiček a pouze zpracování tak ...more
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Sad, moving story with some nuggets of inspiration. But it lacks depth and substance, which is instead replaced by the kind of shallow sappiness that makes this type of book break into the mainstream. I could almost see Oprah reading over my shoulder saying: "Oh, this book is perfect! I have to add this to my book club! It's gonna sell like hot cakes!" For me, the synopsis seemed more interesting than the book itself. The book was just ok. "Tuesdays With Morrie" this is not, to mention an excell ...more
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly moving and inspiring story. Expected to be a sobbing mess, but walked away feeling very happy that people like David Menasche exist, and that his story can remind us all to live in the moment. Bonus in listening to the audio book is that he reads it, making the story that much more personal.
Jan 29, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This text is a pre-posthumous monument to the author's narcissism.

That said, if you consider the author as an unreliable narrator (and it's hard not to) then the book becomes significantly more worthwhile.
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“But why think about that when all the golden lands ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you’re alive to see?” 4 likes
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires,” the author and scholar William Arthur Ward wrote.” 2 likes
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