Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “This Is Water: The Original David Foster Wallace Recording: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life” as Want to Read:
This Is Water: The Original David Foster Wallace Recording: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

This Is Water: The Original David Foster Wallace Recording: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

4.53 of 5 stars 4.53  ·  rating details  ·  8,751 ratings  ·  713 reviews
Only once did David Foster Wallace give a public talk on his views on life, during a commencement address given in 2005 at Kenyon College. The speech is reprinted for the first time in book form in This Is Water. How does one keep from going through their comfortable, prosperous adult life unconsciously? How do we get ourselves out of the foreground of our thoughts and ach ...more
Audio
Published July 1st 2010 by Little, Brown & Company (first published 2009)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about This Is Water, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about This Is Water

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Stephen M
David Foster Wallace was a beautiful fucking person who said a lot of beautiful fucking things.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
This is Water, like The Communist Manifesto, is an unfortunate document. Both are occasional pieces written for a narrowly prescribed purpose. Both appear to be distillates of a much broader, systematic force of thinking. Both are of a genre which have very tight constraints--the commencement speech and the manifesto--which dictate and limit the possibilities for both form and content. Both are widely read by those not familiar with that systematic thought. By not taking into account the genre o ...more
MJ Nicholls
Better heard spoken for the full sting. A powerful speech but the message seems to be rather simple: don’t be a selfish asshat. Or is that a little reductive? Anyway—one star for the cash-in and four stars for the speech. Coming soon from Little, Brown in DVD & books: The Best Hesitant Pauses on KCRW’s Bookworm, The Ten Best Awkward Selfconscious Squirming Moments on Charlie Rose, and Half-Remembered Conversations Anyone Has Ever Had With DFW. Also available from the DFW Tacky Cash-in Empori ...more
Greg
This may come as a surprise to people who know me, but I never read this before it came out in book format. I knew it existed, but like most of the occasional and short pieces by DFW I held off on reading them. At the time his writing came out so infrequently, that I always wanted to have things of his to read at some point in the future, when I would really want something new of his. Of course that has changed to their being nothing new to release, except for unpublished things that might see t ...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Jan 15, 2010 Joshua Nomen-Mutatio rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Liberal Arts Students; Everyone
FURTHER UPDATED REVIEW (consolidation of general remarks of mine from review comment threads for this book/speech):

Is This Speech Depressing?

I have to respectfully disagree and say that I found this to be uplifting in a really serious way--like my version of a Chicken Soup For The Soul sense of uplifting (er, uh, something)--which is a feeling of redemption via facing messy truths and feeling my own thoughts to be extremely validated by his beautiful ideas and phrasings. I'd read it many times o
...more
karen
so. it gets five stars because of how terribly sad i still am. i read this online , of course, years and years ago, but i reread it in book form, just to see if anything had been added. it hasnt. just the fact of his death on the flap. id really rather have added material than that fact, wouldnt you? and i also would have liked this to have been delivered at my graduation (i mean, i had quincy jones, i cant complain too much, but still... despite all the good advice in this book, i am a complain ...more
Jason
This Is Water is kind of like a modern version of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. With the exception, of course, that This Is Water is not a collection of letters, does not discuss poetry or writing, and is not addressed to a single individual but to a college’s entire student body. Other than that, though, they’re pretty much the same thing.

What I mean is that there’s something very inspirational (for lack of a better word) in these texts whose words seem to have been composed on-
...more
rahul
This is water.
And I have to learn to breath in it.
This is water.
Vale
People get used to the sadness of everyday life. Then they find a goal that then becomes the anchor they cling to in order to survive.
People live without awareness like the Lotus-eaters in The Odyssey: they live only to live; in and of itself.
People I know, above all in the city, are unhappy. They think that the system framed them. Sometimes it happens to me as well.
You wonder why you are doing things that you wouldn't normally do. I like my life and I am a positive person: after a good walk all
...more
Danny
As I came here to post my review of this book, I stumbled onto reviews posted by others. The general perception seemed to be a sense of sadness. Perhaps it's because of what Wallace did ultimately. But I read this speech differently.

I read it as a generous gift delivered by a deeply troubled and pained person of unusual intelligence. And while this is an address to graduates, it seems to me that he speaks, in a way, to try to convince himself too. He says,

"...there are all different kinds of fre
...more
Nick Craske
Brave, honest and sincere. DFW's compassionate and heartfelt commencement address. Small in word count huge in heart.

[ This Is Water: short film adaptation: http://bit.ly/YSEa47 ]
Adam Floridia
This is the "transcript" of DFW's graduation speech at Kenyon College. It's a speech that I'm sure any DFW fan has seen/heard/read on the internet. It's nothing new. It'll take you 15 minutes to read, and it's tough to justify shelling out $15 for something that's totally free on the web.

And but so it is a 5-star book because the content of the speech really is...touching...moving...or some similar adjective and because having the speech written out--literally one sentence per page--and being ab
...more
Jasmine
This is the most depressing thing that I have ever read in my life. I have never felt as hopeless as I did reading this. It is written beautifully, and it is a catharsis, but the fact of the matter is that it is not cheerful and it did not in anyway increase my desire to wake up tomorrow morning. I can give no actual good reason that people should read this book. The most that I can do is fall back on Cioran and say that the purpose of the philosopher is to remove depression from the everyday ve ...more
Sheila
First off, I will admit I did not buy this book. This book is the commercial publication of a speech that was given by David Foster Wallace at the 2005 Kenyon College graduation commencement. This speech is easy to find online. So yes, I googled it and read it for free. And for some reason, I think David Foster Wallace would approve.

I looked up this speech because I am currently reading Infinite Jest, and the constant and continuous talk of drugs and depression and drugs and death and drugs and
...more
Vale
People get used to the sadness of everyday life. Then they find a goal that then becomes the anchor they cling to in order to survive.
People live without awareness like the Lotus-eaters in The Odyssey: they live only to live; in and of itself.
People I know, above all in the city, are unhappy. They think that the system framed them. Sometimes it happens to me as well.
You wonder why you are doing things that you wouldn't normally do. I like my life and I am a positive person: after a good walk all
...more
Francesco Fantuzzi
Anche in questo caso la valutazione rappresenta la media delle diverse valutazioni sui diversi racconti. La raccolta procede decisamente in crescendo: l'ultimo racconto vero e proprio ("Ordine e fluttuazione a Northampton") è veramente geniale, sia per la concezione in sé, sia per la struttura, sia per la magistrale abilità linguistica che palesa. L'ultimo scritto, che fornisce il titolo alla raccolta, trascrizione del discorso per il conferimento delle lauree tenuto al Kenyon College il 21 magg ...more
Victoria
description

"The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day."

I generally refrain from holding authors in such high regard until I've actually finished one of their works. I'm still working through Infinite Jest, although I guess this speech would technically count as one of his works... regardless, David Foster Wallace wa
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This tiny book was on a display of "What will you do with your life" books at the main library where I work. It is the text of the commencement speech David Foster Wallace gave at Kenyon College in 2005.

It is impossible to read this without his tragic end in my head, and I wish I could. His specific mentions of suicide are completely cringeworthy. The whole point that he makes is that if you have the right perspective, life is manageable, even good. I'm really sorry he had such a struggle, and o
...more
B0nnie
http://www.pearltrees.com/#/N-u=1_530...

http://web.archive.org/web/2008021308...

"The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it."
Offuscatio
Paradójico, pero interesante.
Cheryl
What is the right kind of FREEDOM?

David Foster Wallace says it is not to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation.

The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, discipline, and effort, and being able to care about other people...to sacrifice for them, in petty, unsexy ways, every day.

What does it mean to know how to THINK?

If you really know how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options than the default
...more
Chibineko
If you're like me, odds are you perked up at the idea of this book. In 2005 David Foster Wallace gave a brilliant commencement speech about life, education, and basically how to deal with graduation. It's one of those wonderful speeches that you could have fifty people listen to and gain fifty slightly different interpretations from. I was rather hoping that this book would contain at least one such interpretation, but no- this is solely DFW's speech. For some this will be somewhat of a disappoi ...more
Lynn
Every once in a while, you have a brush with greatness. I was lucky enough to take several classes with Dave Wallace when I was a student at Illinois State University (as an undergraduate and a graduate student). This was before he won his MacArthur Grant (what some people refer to as "the genius award")--after that his popularity skyrocketed. He was a complicated, shy, and extremely generous person, as well as one of the most intelligent people I have ever met.

Years later, after struggling wit
...more
John
Skimmed through David Foster Wallace's, This Is Water, a couple yrs ago & just recently went back & revisited it. Decided to start it over, take my time, go through it deliberately & slowly. Can be a very fast read (half an hour) or a more ponderous read (couple hours).
Got a lot out of it this time.
And Cami (fiance) & Joe (brother) both read it within the same day or two & it's been nice to experience that little piece of shared meaning.
Next, might be DFW's, Signifying Rap
...more
matt


Wisdom. Advice to college about-to-be-graduates about what it (might) take to live full, righteous, truly human lives from a guy who, admittedly, couldn't bring himself over the threshold to achieve what he humorously, eloquently, and succinctly fleshed out for we the reading public.

It matters not- he who can comprehend need not live his truth, I say, as long as he can point the way he isn't required to lead us down the road.
Julissa Batista
For all of us a bit lost...
This is water life.

Recommended to everyone.
Just read it. It'll take little of your time and it'll give you much in return.
SCARABOOKS
Se c’è qualcuno che Foster Wallace non lo conosce ed ha delle curiosità può cominciare da qui. Senza troppo formalizzarsi, visto che è il primo volume pubblicato postumo.
L’ormai mitologico discorso del 21 maggio 1985 ai laureandi non è solo una cosa che andrebbe messa in pianta stabile sul comodino o regalata a tutte le persone a cui teniamo. È anche una sintesi efficace del suo modo di pensare la vita e quindi una ottima introduzione alla lettura dei sui libri (se dovessi indicare una parola, u
...more
Ben
This is basically a sermon about how to live a mundane, routine existence filled with all those annoying little encounters we have every day: SUV's that cut us off, long lines in grocery stores, etc. Wallace points out that our default setting is to focus exclusively on ourselves, on our own needs, as if we are the center of the universe and everyone else is simply in our way. In such a mode, these everyday encounters will increasingly irritate us to the point where we become miserable. Instead ...more
§--
Very good for what it is, a commencement address, and not something that Wallace actually wanted published in this format. Wallace was a student of genre, and this speech is just as self-conscious as the rest of his work. He gives a sermon about the impossibility of sermons, just as he wrote fiction about the impossibility of fiction. He repeatedly assures us that he is not telling us how to live, even while he is laying forth the truth of so many cliches. What I liked best about it was, near th ...more
Dustin Reade
some good points and clever observations, though I don't necessarily agree with everything said, and I think the author states some statements as fact and uses only his power as a known literary figure to back them up. Like, at one point he starts talking about how everyone "has to worship something", and it makes more sense to worship "God, or Allah" or some other deity, because otherwise you are just going to worship money or our bodies, or something else that will inevitably lead to boredom a ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace
  • Conversations with David Foster Wallace
  • Understanding David Foster Wallace
  • Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story: A Life of David Foster Wallace
  • Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays
  • Farther Away
  • The Braindead Megaphone
  • Not-Knowing:  The Essays and Interviews of Donald Barthelme
  • Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays
  • Elegant Complexity: A Study of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest
  • A Temple of Texts
  • The Common Reader
  • Rising Up and Rising Down: Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means
  • Wittgenstein's Mistress
  • The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers
  • The Legacy of David Foster Wallace
  • Letters on Life
  • The Book of My Lives
4339
David Foster Wallace worked surprising turns on nearly everything: novels, journalism, vacation. His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys. "I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today," he once said, "of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it." He wanted to write "stuff about what it feels like to live. Instead of being a relief from what it fe ...more
More about David Foster Wallace...
Infinite Jest Consider the Lobster and Other Essays A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again:  Essays and Arguments Brief Interviews with Hideous Men The Broom of the System

Share This Book

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.” 1243 likes
“Because here's something else that's weird but true: in the day-to day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship—be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles—is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It's the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you. On one level, we all know this stuff already. It's been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, epigrams, parables; the skeleton of every great story. The whole trick is keeping the truth up front in daily consciousness.” 547 likes
More quotes…