Very Good Lives | Review

VGL_JKR

Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

When J.K. Rowling publishes a book, I buy it. It can be Rowling or it can be under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith; it doesn’t matter, hardcovers will be bought and read.

Very Good Lives is Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech from 2008 in book form. It’s a simple, small little book with plenty of illustrations, all in a red, white, and black combination. It’s adorable and beautiful.

Very Good Lives touches on the benefits of failure, and why not to fear it, as well as the importance of imagination and empathy. She goes into her background a bit, how hard she failed, but how that failure enabled her to be free to embrace who she was, and create The Boy Who Lived. She also tells about her experience working with Amnesty International while in college, and learning about standing together and empathizing with those whose lives are less fortunate, and working to make a difference.

“Those who choose not to empathize enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it through our own apathy.”

timthumbYou can see where some of these experiences and beliefs inspired characters and situations in Harry Potter, particularly with regards to power and choice.

It’s an important message, and one I’ve also learned in life. Yoda isn’t right in this case; failure is an option, because sometimes it is only with failure that we learn who we truly are and what we’re truly meant to do. My favorite quote about failure comes from this speech:

“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.”

Not to mention, proceeds of this book go to her charity, Lumos, which works to make sure all children grow up in a happy and healthy environment.

Rowling is a genius and a saint, and Very Good Lives is a must.

watch her speech here

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