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Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness
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Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  2,745 Ratings  ·  419 Reviews

Three months after George Saunders gave a graduation address at Syracuse University, a transcript of that speech was posted on the website of The New York Times, where its simple, uplifting message struck a deep chord. Within days, it had been shared more than one million times. Why? Because Saunders’s words tap into a desire in all of us to lead k
Hardcover, 64 pages
Published April 22nd 2014 by Random House (first published 2014)
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  • Congratulations, By the Way by George Saunders
    Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness
    Release date: Apr 22, 2014
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    Community Reviews

    (showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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    May 03, 2016 Melki rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: humorous-essays
    . . . success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it.

    My oldest son will graduate from college on Saturday. I'll sit and watch and try not to cry. The kid who once ate the dog food the dog didn't want will have a degree in philosophy. What he will do with that degree is anyone's guess. I like to joke that his job will involve knowing the difference between a Grande and a Venti, but who knows? As his adviser swears, my son can write and he can think, and that puts him ah
    Jan 01, 2015 Jason rated it really liked it
    Shelves: lecture
    "As you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE."

    This was the perfect book to read on January 1st.

    This commencement speech by George Saunders is about the importance of being kind, which is something I am aware of, I know other people do it, but it's not something I exercise often in my life. Yes, I am kind to my loved ones and my dear friends, and I am polite and courteous to people I encounter, but I don't feel like I am kind. Instea
    Aug 17, 2016 Karl marked it as to-read
    This copy is signed by George Saunders.

    This is a slightly expanded version of a commencement speech given by the author at Syracuse University May 11. 2013.
    May 16, 2014 Tara rated it it was ok
    Glad I got out of the library. It's a pretty little book, but $14? I think of all the wonderful literature out there one can buy for the same price. Look this up on the internet and read in ten minutes. A nice sentiment to preach to graduates to be kind, but nothing remarkable in the language or insights or advice.
    Cathy DuPont
    Oct 13, 2014 Cathy DuPont rated it it was amazing
    Stopped by the library to take something back, and always, always leave with something. For shame. If I read one book a day, I have enough books to read for a year but here I am taking books home to read.

    Anyway, this is a feel good book and in movie form, "Pay it Forward."

    Recently I read something about Saunders giving this address on kindness to a graduating college class. I did not go looking for the book but when I read the cover and back, I knew it was that book.

    Thanks to my mother, I'm a
    Apr 28, 2014 Sean rated it liked it
    I bought this on a whim after I had been drinking. I had already read the speech online, which I liked, and thought that this was the extended or complete transcript, since the details online said that it was 64 pages. I didn't know that half of the pages were flip-book imagery, and most of the pages were unfilled with text. It is also a very small book, so yeah, it easily contains the whole commencement speech that you can find for free. In that sense I was disappointed, but if I had not been t ...more
    May 11, 2014 John rated it did not like it
    Be kind now. Repeat as required.
    I just gave away the entire book ... my first act of kindness.

    Aug 22, 2014 Dianne rated it really liked it
    Very slender volume - I read it in 10 minutes - that packs a whole lot of punch. This is the convocation address George Saunders delivered at Syracuse University in May 2013. You can watch it on YouTube (12 minutes), but I think it is much better quietly read and pondered than said.

    The central message is very simple - try to be kinder - but the sentiment is delivered so eloquently and memorably that it is something I will carry with me and mull over from time to time. An instant classic, much li
    Aug 12, 2016 TK421 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: essays-auto-bio
    Saunders throws down the gauntlet, challenging us all to look for ways to be kind now, not later. I say, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!
    I could have looked this speech up easily on the internet, but I waited for it. I knew it would be great. I heard it was great. I purposely waited with anticipation for the official book publication.
    I'm happy to say there was no disapointment here.
    In the same vein as David Foster Walace's "This is Water" George Saunders asks us to consider kindness. The illustrations of light bursting, and expanding as if in a heavenly constellation, add warmth and imagination to the idea that kindness grows in
    Oct 21, 2014 Jim rated it liked it
    Shelves: nonfiction
    "George," his publisher asked, "We need something for the pipeline. Got anything?" Came the reply, "Well, I did a little convocation speech that has been getting attention online, what about that?" "Hmmmm, I bet we could produce it cheaply and sell it for fourteen dollars, and your name alone would compel people to buy it. At least the libraries." And so, there you are. . . a new book. Does it really contribute anything groundbreaking, uniquely delivered, worthy of the expenditure? No. But it is ...more
    Jun 18, 2016 Kony rated it really liked it
    I received this as a gift from a thoughtful friend and read it in one brief sitting. It is the text of a college graduation speech, printed bit by bit on thick off-white pages, interspersed with dark blue pages depicting a night sky that gets progressively starry to the end. It is, like many graduation speeches, rather cliche. And, like many such speeches, it is also a helpful refresher of timeless truths we're prone to forget. Four stars to this tiny booklet, not because it's particularly cleve ...more
    Megan Treseder
    May 13, 2014 Megan Treseder rated it it was amazing
    Short but very, very sweet. When we're 80 and looking back at our life, we probably won't regret being kind to anyone. In fact, we'll regret not being kind enough. Excellent words to live by. My new motto is "Try to be kinder."

    Favorite quotation: "That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality - your soul, if you will - is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret, luminous place. Believe that it exists, come to know
    Nov 30, 2014 Donna rated it really liked it
    Two words: Simple Eloquence

    This was actually a graduation speech that ended up getting published.

    The message here is simple -- Be Kind. It is about not only being kind, but how important it is to not miss opportunities to show kindness and it doesn't have to be a huge display. Sometimes the timing isn't always perfect to show kindness and can even be uncomfortable at times especially when going against the main stream. This was a good reminder and inspiring because through small acts, big things
    Questo volume (un opuscoletto, in realtà, di dimensioni quasi ridicole) raccoglie il graduation speech tenuto da Saunders nel 2013 all'Università di Syracuse, un articolo precedentemente pubblicato in una raccolta, "L'uomo col megafono", che parla dei mezzi di comunicazione e del loro potere, e un'intervista allo stesso Saunders.

    Lettura piacevole, soprattutto per il saggio perché il discorso, diciamocelo, è certamente d'ispirazione e probabilmente anche anomalo, con la sua esortazione alla genti
    Oct 16, 2014 Lindsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    My friend Robyn reviewed this and said it could be read in 15 minutes (I found the full text online); I can do 15 minutes, and I'm glad I did. It is an inspirational graduation speech about kindness and compassion. It reminded me of a general conference talk. I liked this quote from it:
    "Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. " I've been realizing lately that there isn't enough time to do all the good things in l
    Kalvin Lam
    Jun 11, 2016 Kalvin Lam rated it it was amazing
    Wow, this was a short read, but it goes up there with one of the most powerful pieces I have ever read. Saunders imparts an important life lesson that we all should know - to be kind to others, always. Mixed in with his powerful lesson is humor and joy and an appreciation for the world we live in. Saunders is someone I’d definitely want to meet before I die.

    This book is, verbatim, Saunders's graduation speech for Syracuse University. He bares his past and talks about a time in his life where he
    Larry Olson
    Jun 17, 2015 Larry Olson rated it really liked it
    A lovely reminder.
    Jan 14, 2016 ☮Karen rated it really liked it
    Shelves: audio, read-in-2016
    Some thoughts on kindness... can never have too much of that. George points out that most people gradually become more kind with age; but his reasoning for discussing it at this graduation ceremony is to suggest, why not start now while still young. I think it is a commendable topic. I have no idea what my graduation's speaker talked about.
    Aug 13, 2014 Allie rated it really liked it
    This is a lovely little book that I read on the bus to work. It reminds me (for obvious reasons) of Neil Gaiman's Make Good Art, and I think I prefer reading commencement addresses instead of watching/listening to them. The book features some really lovely illustrations by Chelsea Cardinal, a graphic designer and art director at GQ, that grow through the book as the speech progresses. While this isn't anything mind-blowing or ground-breaking, it is a poignant reminder of the importance of kindne ...more
    Jul 29, 2014 Judith rated it really liked it
    It's not really a book, rather it's a commencement address, and therefore would be considered an essay, but it was put into book form and I don't have a problem with that. It was on my book list to read and I happened into an Urban Outfitters store one day, spotted the book, and read the whole thing while I was standing there.
    It was very moving and funny so I enjoyed it. And I do believe the world could use more kindness. For me personally though the message didn't feel applicable. Of all the th
    Jun 06, 2014 Cheryl rated it really liked it
    George Saunders is a bestselling author of several collections of short stories. He has also been the recipient of other very prestigious awards and recognitions. Mr. Saunders was asked to give a convocation address at Syracuse University. His address was posted on the website of the New York Times. Within a few days, it had been shared more than one million times!

    This short book contains the text of that address. In it, Mr. Saunders conveys his thoughts on what graduates should keep in mind wh
    Andrea McDowell
    Jan 15, 2016 Andrea McDowell rated it really liked it
    Simple, sweet, and very very short.

    The ebook has this weird two-page-chapter thing going on, where one page of every chapter is a starfield image. I'm sure in the print version it was lovely, but in the ebook it was kind of clunky. I knocked off a star for this presentation issue.

    "Err on the side of kindness" is in general very good advice.

    However, if you have become accustomed to people mistreating each other as a matter of course, and the mistreaters feeling entitled to "kindness" in the form
    Eleni (OverThePlace)
    Jan 01, 2015 Eleni (OverThePlace) rated it really liked it
    Shelves: non-fiction
    I'm really glad this was my first-read for the year of 2015. I think it voiced some of my philosophy of life. You can read it on-line here:
    Mary Lou
    May 20, 2014 Mary Lou rated it really liked it
    This is not a book worth $14. It is not brilliant writing. It contains no astounding insight. But it is good, solid advice that the world desperately needs. Spoiler alert! Be kind. That's pretty much it. After the last commencement speech I heard, which was so horribly depressing that several of the graduates probably wished they could kill themselves on the spot, Saunders' message is like a breath of good, fresh, country air.

    I supposed the book might make a nice little gift for a graduate in y
    Jun 26, 2014 Janet rated it really liked it
    Shelves: one-day-reads
    A 20-minute read that reopens your eyes to something you already know deep inside: above all else, it is of the utmost importance to err on the side of kindness. A lovely gift book for a graduate or someone who needs a little encouragement.
    Aug 15, 2016 Pooja rated it really liked it
    Shelves: ebooks
    And someday, in 80 years, when you’re 100, and I’m 134, and we’re both so kind and loving we’re nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been.
    I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful.
    Feb 12, 2015 caroline rated it really liked it
    I had no idea what this book was when I placed a hold on it. I had just read Tenth of December, Saunders' short story collection, and wanted to read more of his work. I was surprised to know that it's a very short transcript of his commencement speech he gave in 2013 at Syracuse University about being kind. It's such an obvious advice, but until you read it, you realize how we are not actively kind. It's great reminder to be conscious in being kind.

    And I'll say when you need a little push, I sa
    "avendo riscontrato che la gentilezza è variabile, possiamo ragionevolmente concludere che sia migliorabile; e cioè che esisteranno approcci e pratiche che possono effettivamente accrescere il nostro tasso ambientale di gentilezza. studiare serve. immergersi in un'opera d'arte serve. pregare serve. fare meditazione serve. avere una spiegazione franca da un caro amico. inserirsi nel solco di una tradizione spirituale, riconoscere che prima di noi ci sono state schiere di persone in gamba che si s ...more
    Jan 05, 2015 Sophie rated it liked it
    lovely book about the importance of being kind.
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    George Saunders was born December 2, 1958 and raised on the south side of Chicago. In 1981 he received a B.S. in Geophysical Engineering from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. He worked at Radian International, an environmental engineering firm in Rochester, NY as a technical writer and geophysical engineer from 1989 to 1996. He has also worked in Sumatra on an oil exploration geophysi ...more
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    “What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering and I responded … sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.” 21 likes
    “I can look back and see that I’ve spent much of my life in a cloud of things that have tended to push “being kind” to the periphery. Things like: Anxiety. Fear. Insecurity. Ambition. The mistaken belief that enough accomplishment will rid me of all that anxiety, fear, insecurity, and ambition. The belief that if I can only accrue enough—enough accomplishment, money, fame—my neuroses will disappear. I’ve been in this fog certainly since, at least, my own graduation day. Over the years I’ve felt: Kindness, sure—but first let me finish this semester, this degree, this book; let me succeed at this job, and afford this house, and raise these kids, and then, finally, when all is accomplished, I’ll get started on the kindness. Except it never all gets accomplished. It’s a cycle that can go on … well, forever.” 13 likes
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