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

very_good_livesstars /5

It is unlikely that someone would find themselves unable to identify J. K. Rowling’s accomplishments in the wide genre of fiction, but Very Good Lives dips into Rowling’s own life—failures and successes—as she helps see off Harvard University’s 2008 graduating class. Rowling’s speech is perforated with stunningly heartfelt advice and words of wisdom. Vividly honest about her own experiences, Rowling speaks to fears of failure and grounds you in reality. She addresses two themes throughout the speech: the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination.

Perhaps it’s my love of Harry Potter or my idolization of J. K. Rowling—maybe it’s just the fact that I have aspirations much like her pre-Harry Potter success—but in any case, Rowling’s commencement address is an incredible 70 pages of hope and encouragement. I quickly gave up on highlighting passages, because I realized that the entirety of the text would have been yellow. Because it so clearly and concisely addresses common doubts of young adults—and likely every other age of adults that find uncertainty creeping through the shadows and into their lives—this book is sure to find its way into the hands of every stressing college senior and I know I will find comfort in its pages time after time.

Originally published on San Francisco Book Review.


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