Title: Very Good Lives
Author: J. K. Rowling
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company
Time taken to read: 5 hours
Goodreads synopsis: 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.
This book is actually something you can read in about 20 minutes, as about half the pages are illustrations and the other pages only have about a paragraph each, if that. (I just had a rather interrupted day, so it took me longer to finish it.) I’ve elected not to give it a rating because it’s just Rowling’s commencement speech at Harvard, not an actual book. You can just as easily watch a video of the speech online, but the illustrations were quite nice, and it’s a nice little book to have when you need a bit of inspiration. I borrowed it from the library, but I would like to own it so I could read it when I’m feeling hopeless. I was surprised by the parts about her job with Amnesty International, which I was unaware that she had, but it definitely put some things in perspective for me, which I think was a major point of her speech: not just the ways we take on the perspective of others but the simple fact that our minds are able to do so, which Rowling points out is really amazing. That’s where her whole thing about imagination comes in, the way we can create an infinite amount of ideas out of nothing, which is pretty cool. If you’re not interested in putting in the effort to go out and get this book, I would definitely recommend listening to the speech online. You can probably search for it on YouTube or something. I could provide a link, but then you definitely wouldn’t go and get the book.