Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Book Review: Very Good Lives

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: April 15, 2015
Source: Purchased
In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a deeply affecting commencement speech at Harvard University. Now published for the first time in book form, Very Good Lives offers J.K. Rowling’s words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life, asking the profound and provocative questions: How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others?

Drawing from stories of her own post-graduate years, the world-famous author addresses some of life’s most important issues with acuity and emotional force.

My Review

Image from Muggle Net

Paired with beautiful artwork and a lovely red, white, grey, and black color theme, Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling is a wonderful addition to any library, whether it be your own library or a library that you visit.

Way back when I was a senior in high school, this lovely speech made news everywhere! I couldn't sit in front of the TV when the local news was on and not see a soundbite of it. At that time, I was just getting ready to graduate, so all of the English teachers in my school were freaking out about how the graduating class should also take a few pieces of advice from Rowling's commencement address at Harvard University.

Now if you remember anything about me, you will know that I had not yet read the Harry Potter books in that point in my life. I watched little tidbits of the speech on TV. And then, I moved on with my life. I went to college. I graduated, and then I found myself reading Harry Potter for the first time.

But now, at a time when I really do feel like a failure professionally, I really feel like this speech was meant for me. This book/speach speaks to me on so many different levels, I felt empowered after reading it.

It's inspirational in many ways, but it's also humbling. In the speech, Rowling doesn't attribute the success of Harry Potter to what made her the woman that she is today. Instead, she claims that the hardships and the failures that she faced molded her into the lovely person she grew to be. I can only hope that I can look back on my twenties when I'm in my forties and feel the same way.

Although Very Good Lives is a very quick read, it's well worth the price tag. I'd recommend reading it alongside the video below so that you really get the full experience and message. This book and speech is something that I needed, and I can see many recent high school and college graduates (and even people a few years removed from the academic world) as the perfect audience for this book. I highly recommend it to everyone who is a fan of Rowling's fiction and anyone who just needs a pick-me-up.


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