Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination

When J.K. Rowling was invited to deliver the commencement address at Harvard University, she chose to speak to the graduating class about two topics very close to her heart: the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination. Having the courage to fail, she said, is as vital to a good life as any conventional measure of success; imagining ourselves into the place of...

Title:Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination
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Edition Language:English

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination Reviews

  • Mohammed Arabey

    قد تعتقد أن تقييمي للكتاب

    قد تعتقد أن تقييمي للكتاب

    وكعادة كتبها الصغيرة الحجم ارباح الكتاب كلها موجهة لمشروعها الخيري لتعليم الأطفال في الدول الفقيرة

    محمد العربي

    في 10 مايو 2015

  • Raeleen Lemay

    Beautiful. This is going right next to Neil Gaiman's Make Good Art on my bookshelf.

  • Kai

    This genius woman. J. K. Rowling you're my favourite author. You forever will be.

  • Jeff

    Never was a more true word spoken. A gifted speech from a gifted author. Definitely worth then 20 minutes to finish it!

  • Rose

    All the people in J.K Rowling's life must feel so incredibly blessed.

    As a die-hard Harry Potter fan, I have read a lot about J.K and her fascinating life before all the Harry Potter

    .

    does a great job of showing some of the wisdom she gained from this time.

    This 'book' is actually just a commencement speech she made at Harvard, years ago, and published so that the funds would go to

    All the people in J.K Rowling's life must feel so incredibly blessed.

    As a die-hard Harry Potter fan, I have read a lot about J.K and her fascinating life before all the Harry Potter

    .

    does a great job of showing some of the wisdom she gained from this time.

    This 'book' is actually just a commencement speech she made at Harvard, years ago, and published so that the funds would go to

    .

    Reading it was amazing, but I highly suggest

    her speech or

    the comic version, which I adore. It's so powerful and it

    . Plus it's reaaally short, which is why I read it (reading slump still going strong kms).

  • Jesse (JesseTheReader)

    simply inspiring.

  • Brina

    The reason I gave this book 4.5 stars instead of 5 is because it was so short. This is the published form of J K Rowling's commencement address to Harvard graduates in 2008. Her words of wisdom ring true to all, and she even managed to sneak in a few Potter references. I finished in about 15 minutes, and am wishful to think that J K can publish a longer book of essays, which I am sure many of us would be happy to read.

  • Lala BooksandLala

    "It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all- in which case, you fail by default."

  • Bill  Kerwin

    I enjoyed and admire Rowling’s speech to Harvard graduates (class of 2008). If it is not quite the equal of the greatest commencement addresses of this century—David Foster Wallace at Kenyon (2005), George Saunders at Syracuse (2013)—it is still memorable. It speaks to the nature of its audience, gives good advice both on how to profit from adversity and also how to discern what is valuable, and—as a bonus—it illustrates its points with revealing glimpses into the heart of one of the most succes

    I enjoyed and admire Rowling’s speech to Harvard graduates (class of 2008). If it is not quite the equal of the greatest commencement addresses of this century—David Foster Wallace at Kenyon (2005), George Saunders at Syracuse (2013)—it is still memorable. It speaks to the nature of its audience, gives good advice both on how to profit from adversity and also how to discern what is valuable, and—as a bonus—it illustrates its points with revealing glimpses into the heart of one of the most successful writers of our times.

    Rowling breaks the ice with these practically life-long Harry Potter fans (seven years old when the first book came out) with jokes about Gryffindor and gay wizards, but she soon begins to speak of fear of failure, making it clear she realizes these particular Potter fans are very privileged Potter fans indeed. “[T]he fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown.”

    She assures these graduates—perhaps too accustomed to success—that failure is inevitable. “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default." She uses herself, in pre-Potter days, as an example: a divorced, jobless, single mother, “as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless.” But the failure she experienced was worth it, for it brought self-knowledge. “You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift, for all that it is painfully won.”” It was valuable to her “because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.” The work that mattered of course was writing, and she still, even after all the failure, “had an old typewriter and a big idea.”

    From here she passes on to her second subject, the importance of the imagination. Surprisingly, she hasn't much to say about wizardry in particular or even story-telling in general, but instead speaks briefly of technological and social innovation beofre concentrating on imagination’s great gift: “the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.” So that her listeners may empathize, Rowling shares with them a few stories from one of her earliest jobs as a worker for Amnesty International. She tells of meeting torture victims and other political prisoners, heroically risking much to speak out against the crimes of their governments.

    After her praise of empathy, she begins her conclusion with the following words:

  • Khadidja

    “So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and

    “So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea. And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

    “You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default.”

    “There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.”

    The Queen has spoken! :D i adored this book so much. Powerful speech from the best author of all times.


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