Nonfiction Review: 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
by J.K. Rowling

Confession time–I’ve never gone to any of my college graduations. Twice (undergraduate and graduate school #1) I finished in December, so by the time May rolled around I either had another commitment or I just couldn’t be bothered. I never really felt like I missed much…and given what J.K. Rowling says in the beginning of her commencement address to Harvard’s class of 2008 about having no recollection what the speaker at her own graduation said, I pretty much feel vindicated.

But J.K. Rowling’s speech on that May afternoon?

Magical.

Published in book form and sparingly illustrated, this was just the inspiration I needed this morning as I stare down semester #2 of graduate degree #2. Rowling talks about not being afraid of failing, but instead using failure to motivate yourself to move beyond it to bigger and better things. By “imagination” she means the ability to have empathy for others, and using the emotions triggered as you do to help make changes in the world. She gives plenty of examples from her own experiences to illustrate her point, and Joel Holland’s simple drawings add another layer to the overall message of the address.

This simple little book is going to be my new go-to gift for graduates.

And if by some crazy chance J.K. Rowling is going to be the commencement speaker for the School of Graduate Studies at the University at Buffalo in 2017? I am so there.

Otherwise, I’ll probably skip it. 😉

Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A

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