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If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young
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If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young

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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  5,811 ratings  ·  710 reviews
Master storyteller and satirist Kurt Vonnegut was one of the most in-demand commencement speakers of his time. For each occasion, Vonnegut’s words were unfailingly unique, insightful, and witty, and they stayed with audience members long after graduation.

As edited by Dan Wakefield, this book reads like a narrative in the unique voice that made Vonnegut a hero to readers of
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MP3 CD, 144 pages
Published May 17th 2013 by Brilliance Audio (first published April 11th 2013)
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Lyn
Nov 16, 2013 rated it liked it
One of the funniest stories I ever learned about Kurt Vonnegut was what he said as a eulogy to science fiction writer Isaac Asimov. At Asimov’s funeral, to the assembled guests, Vonnegut began his address with these words: “Well, he’s in heaven now.” Vonnegut recalls that the mourners broke up in laughter. It was so humorous because Asimov was an outspoken atheist. This anecdote is vintage Kurt, satirizing anything and everything and at the most ironic times.

If This Isn’t Nice What Is? is a
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J.L.   Sutton
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Would have loved to have Kurt Vonnegut as a commencement speaker! I have no basis for complaint; Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke at my graduation and was a fantastic speaker. it just seems I want everything. If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice for the Young is an edited collection of commencement speeches Vonnegut gave (basically in the last decade of his life). Here are a few takeouts:

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”

“Practicing an art, no
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Tom Quinn
Jun 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't say enough good things about Kurt Vonnegut. Since this is a collection of his graduation speeches, I went to YouTube first to re-watch some of his interviews and recorded presentations to hear his voice and prime my brain with an idea of his delivery, his intonation, his vocal tics and pauses and throat-clearings, his grandfatherly warmth.

Here's the best of the bunch (though who knows if the link will still point anywhere by the time you read this): "Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of
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Megan
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I stumbled across this book by happenstance and was amazed when I realized that this was the perfect book I could read at this precise moment in my life. I have just graduated college and Mr. Vonnegut's words for the "young" have been inspiring and thought-provoking while ever maintaining his unique sense of wit.

I was taught multiple life lessons over the course of a couple hours. I found myself, for days, mulling over his ideas that surfaced throughout this collection of words. I was shocked
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Adam Floridia
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vonnegut
Been way too long since I've read Vonnegut. This is a great collection of speeches that highlights his simply marvelous and marvelously simple humanist ideas.

Speaking of simply marvelous, my beautiful new daughter Reese Elisabeth Floridia enjoyed it too:

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And speaking of being a marvelous human, here is what Nanny Vonnegut was magnanimous enough to draw just for Reese:

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All I have left to say is "Boy, isn't this nice?!"
Steven
"And that tiny part of the population which appreciates the arts is well taken care of, is often appalled by how much good stuff there is to read and see and listen to. We have plenty of art in America. It is social justice which is in gruesomely short supply." (103)
Despite the repetition in these speeches across the collection, and in my case, the repetition that came from having just read A Man Without a Country—quite a bit of which overlaps, sometimes verbatim, with the speeches included here
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David
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young graduates, old humanitarians
“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.”


I keep meaning to read more Kurt Vonnegut. Slaughterhouse Five somehow did not have the transcendent effect on me it has on so many other reader. But this collection of graduation speeches Vonnegut made in his later years, as an oft-invited speaker, paints a picture of a warm human being with gentle humor and some degree of self-depreciating wisdom. He
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Chandra
Though the introduction describes this as a collection of speeches which were written for each oration, as opposed to having a standardized speech adjusted per each separate occasion, the repetition of ideas and phrases makes it feel as though you have already read it all about halfway through. Regardless, Kurt is always a good read and the bits of tangent wisdom stand out amongst those which have been stated before.
Kirstine
Kurt Vonnegut is the type of author who, whenever I read him, I just feel better. Deep in my soul, I feel better.

This is a collection of speeches he's given, mostly to college graduates, and there are a few repetitions in the stories and anecdotes in here, but I still think it's utterly worth a read.

Vonnegut is as relevant, humane, understanding, wise and witty as always. And these speeches truly made me realize exactly who keen an observer he was of the world. He just got it. He got the white
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Cathie
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-rc-goal
Having come across the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in one of my earliest visits to Indianapolis, I bought this edition of If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young—The Graduation Speeches which I gave to my daughter in 2014 for her White Coat cerermony. She graduated from Butler University with a PharmD degree a few days ago. I was going to gift this expanded edition, but decided to keep this one for myself as this includes four pieces of journalism.

Such sweet, at times
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D.C.
Apr 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I adored Kurt Vonnegut. His books engaged me when I had started to believe any book handed to me by a teacher would inevitably be dull. And I once attended a speech he gave at Ohio State, so I can imagine how much better these speeches would sound versus read. On the page what was meant to be charming or amusing just comes off hokey and silly. The ideas are interesting, but this was a painful read. I received this book in Goodreads giveaway, therefore I am obligated to write a review, otherwise ...more
Jonathan Gall
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I randomly purchased this book based on recommendations. I didn't know who Kurt Vonnegut was. It's a collection of talks given to University freshmen. It's short, funny by moment, insightful and brings oneself to think. Kurt obviously had a huge amount of empathy. What shines in those talks is his ability to make us understand others point of view. I will definitely pick-up his books after this introduction. Recommended.
Karen Terrell
Jan 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really needed this book right now. I found it oddly comforting and reassuring. Vonnegut reminded me that the times we are now entering are not any worse than the times that have come before. And he assures me that - although I maybe can't fix the whole world - I can, at least, make my little corner of it a more humane and beautiful place.
Sal Coraccio
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
It is sad that Kurt Vonnegut is not longer physically with us. But it is still a real joy to read his words.

There really aren't that many of his words here though, something like 115 pages including the mortared commentary, and some of it is repeated. But - much of it is worth repeating. I don't have any problems with that.

I found myself wanting to retweet his apt bits multiple times as I listened:
"Notice when you're happy, and know when you've got enough. As for throwing money at problems: That
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muthuvel
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite, audiobook
I didn't get to read this book in the hardcopy edition as they are too much to be affordable in my locality. However i felt the need for this one, used free trial credits from audible. It's a previlege to listen this work comprising his graduation speeches which is nothing but a chance to take time for yourself, relaxing yourself going back your past, how things became very sweet, stick with your 'humane' goals. Normally some people read a lot of books and only occasionally they would feel some ...more
Ana
Reading this felt like graduating into conscious adulthood. This is a man who does not belittle us for being younger and stubbornly refusing to believe in (some) our elder's pity of us. The ease with which he delivers such advice is both amazing and humbling, strange and common sense. In my world, when people talk to you they embellish their words so much, their bullshit sounds fouler than if they just said what they wanted out of me in a straight manner. I would appreciate a clear heads up ...more
John Wood
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The wit and wisdom of the great American writer, Kurt Vonnegut as presented in many speeches, most at college graduations. If you are a fan of his, as am I, you will love it. If you aren't, why not? Well worth reading! Warning: It might make you think.
Shrinidhi
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"My Uncle Alex, who is up in Heaven now, one of the things he found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely noticed it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, "If this isn't nice, what is?"

So I hope that you will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, "If this isn't nice,
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Lauren
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it. Huge Vonnegut fan, and have heard bits and pieces of his speeches over the years. This compilation, though somewhat repetitive, exemplifies the man and his message in a concise manner. I would love to be able to sit in his brain for a bit--the guy was a riot, and at the same time, spot on with so many crucial elements of life that we just cannot overlook. Politics, religion (or lack thereof), humanity, purpose...whatever you believe to be true, Vonnegut places you front and center; ...more
Lynne
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fair warning, this is commencement speeches...several of them, and all relatively short. Some, somewhat repetitive. But, the message is so good that you don't mind having it repeated. I've been unfortunate enough to never have read any of Mr. Vonnegut's work...but after listening to this freebie from my friends at Audible, I'm now compelled to at least look into Slaughterhouse Five. I agree with most of Vonnegut's POVs in his commencement speeches, so I'm guessing I'll at least like the messages ...more
Faris
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In this short but great book, we experience Kurt Vonnegut's commencement speeches to graduating college students. While I could go forever on why this is an essential read, I'd rather tell you to stop what you're doing and start reading this (audiobook form is also even better).
Shaun Hutchinson
Great book of many of Vonnegut's speeches. There were some overlaps, but this was still a wonderful read.
Hind
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 5-stars
Fun, light reading. Vonnegut is funny as always.
David Schaafsma
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book made me miss a man I never had met, miss him like my own father. I have heard excerpts from these speeches over the years, they get published in parts or quoted in various newspaper accounts, and they are deserving as news, since they are from a great and entertaining writer who is a smartass, sweet and endearing and angry/cynical all at once. A summary of what he has to say is simple: be nice, play fair, be merciful, everything you need to hear in this greedy selfish tea party time. ...more
Mike
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A quick and insightful read. Some quotes that stuck out:

"Clarks, by reading well, can think the thoughts of the wisest and most interesting human minds throughout all of history"

"We are so lonely because we don't have enough friends and relatives. Human beings are supposed to live in stable, like minded, extended families of fifty people or more.

Your class spokesperson mourned the collapse of the institution of marriage in this country. Marriage is collapsing because our families are too small.
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Jordan
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vonnegut was pissed.

About so many things. And it all came out in his graduation speeches.
And it was/is so good.

Vonnegut's "advice to the young" is cynical and erudite, and captures his feelings on wars, global climate change, and American culture. (Hint: he fucking hated these things.)

But, as much as he yearns to wipe the slate clean of all the horrors of the human race, Vonnegut also suggests something inherently good about humankind, glimpsed in fleeting moments of happiness by his uncle
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Sarthak Pranit
Aug 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Now there's a reason why Kurt Vonnegut is my favourite author. It might be the same reason why Dylan Moran is my favourite standup comedian. I might adore Tolkein or Hosseini or Orwell or even Tolstoy with absolutely sparking fanboy eyes - but Vonnegut and Moran are the ones I just want to have a beer with. And for most of our life, that is all we need actually.

Vonnegut always astounds you. Sometimes you start reading his books just because nothing has surprised you or caught you off guard
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Ville Verkkapuro
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
I wanted to give this a five, but it is not perfect, though it is. It has some repetition in itself and compared to Man Without a Country and other books and quotes by Vonnegut. This isn't a flaw, though: I love reading these things over and over again. There's so much stuff in this book that has influenced me that it's scary.
What I loved about this was that it felt like a conversation with Vonnegut. In his books, though usually no plots, there are characters, which to me can stand in the way. I
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Preethi
Was I living under a rock all along, this being my first foray into the brilliance called Kurt Vonnegut?

Funny and insightful, these essays are a perfect introduction into what Vonnegut was like, as a person. And if his books have half the worth of the content of these essays, then I know I'll love them. Coz I love the person, Vonnegut. What's not to like - a liberal environmentalist education-loving old man talking about the freedom of speech, power of living in the now, feminism and gun
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Frances
LOVED. Such a feel good book. I want everyone to read this. I ADORE the idea of the most important abstraction most of us are gonna encounter is our community. Everyone should invest in this book, and share it with people who may be drifting or starting a new chapter or just are looking for something to read next.

Yes. It's repetitive. But, it's a book of graduation speeches. There's a theme here. I didn't mind it, honestly. It felt like an opportunity for him to really highlight what he felt was
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27,639 followers
Kurt Vonnegut, Junior was an American novelist, satirist, and most recently, graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

He was born in Indianapolis, later the setting for many of his novels. He attended Cornell University from 1941 to 1943, where he wrote a column for the student newspaper, the Cornell Daily Sun. Vonnegut trained as a chemist and worked as a
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“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” 4070 likes
“My Uncle Alex, who is up in Heaven now, one of the things he found objectionable about human beings was that they so rarely noticed it when times were sweet. We could be drinking lemonade in the shade of an apple tree in the summertime, and Uncle Alex would interrupt the conversation to say, "If this isn't nice, what is?"

So I hope that you will do the same for the rest of your lives. When things are going sweetly and peacefully, please pause a moment, and then say out loud, "If this isn't nice, what is?”
82 likes
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