Review Tuesday: Very Good Lives

I’m on a bit of a speech essay kick currently, (such a change from all of the romance books I’ve been reading 😉 ) and when I saw Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling I had to snap it up.

Blurb from Goodreads:

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.

Obviously, since this book is a speech, it was a very quick read. However, it was also, I found, a powerful read.

I found her discussion on failure really interesting. I’m a perfectionist, and failure (of any kind) is hard for me to swallow. I know this about myself. But I also know that failure is a part of life, and I can’t succeed at everything. On top of that, as Rowling so eloquently points out failure is necessary. It teaches us something about ourselves.

What I also really liked about her speech was her point about the importance of imagination, and how “unlike any other creature on this planet, human beings can learn and understand without having experienced. They can thinking themselves into other people’s places.” What a powerful thing. We can empathize with each other, learn from each other, experience each other’s pain and joy.

She also goes on to say that there are some people who don’t do this – who don’t use their imagination to do this, and who she says become more afraid of the world because they choose not to know.

People are afraid of what they do not know.

“Choosing to live in narrow spaces leads to a form of mental agoraphobia…the willingly unimaginative see more monsters. They are often more afraid.”

What I take from this speech is that failure happens, and it’s a good thing that it does because we learn and experience so much from it. And imagination is a necessity. It’s one of the magics that makes us human, and it’s a powerful one. We have the power to change the world because of it.

So, nurture yours.




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