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If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young—The Graduation Speeches
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If This Isn't Nice, What Is?: Advice to the Young—The Graduation Speeches

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  7,461 ratings  ·  888 reviews
Best known as one of our most astonishing and enduring contemporary novelists, Kurt Vonnegut was also a celebrated commencement address giver. He himself never graduated college, so his words to any class of graduating seniors always carried the delight, and gentle irony, of someone savoring an achievement he himself had not had occasion to savor on his own behalf.
       
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Hardcover, 144 pages
Published April 8th 2014 by Seven Stories Press (first published April 10th 2013)
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Carol Elliott I'm sorry, no. His themes are fairly basic, though. Even though a different speech for each school, reading this might bring back some memories. This …moreI'm sorry, no. His themes are fairly basic, though. Even though a different speech for each school, reading this might bring back some memories. This is a third edition, so perhaps in a previous one? You can call the Kurt V. Memorial Library in Indy, leave a msg., they're still "working from home," and someone will probably get back with you, might be Julia Whitehead. Or, you might leave your cell number and just have them text you, as it might be in a previous edition. Good luck.(less)
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Ariel
Jan 19, 2020 added it
Some of the ideas are fantastic, and there are some wonderfully wacky Vonnegut-like moments, but I don't think this works well as a collection. It was very repetitive and I wish I'd just read one speech or had seen a video. Like this one! Just watch this instead: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rr11h... ...more
Lyn
Nov 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 co
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J.L.   Sutton
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 mat
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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 Storie
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Megan
Jul 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 b
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Kevin Shepherd
Jul 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Herein lies a collection of nine commencement speeches by Kurt Vonnegut, delivered at various academic institutions between (approximately) 1994 and 2001.

“We had a memorial service for Isaac [Asimov] a few years back and at one point I said, ''Isaac is up in Heaven now.'' It was the funniest thing I could have said to a group of Humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, ''Kurt is up i
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Dave Schaafsma
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book made me miss a man I never had met, miss him (almost) 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 insightful and entertaining writer who is also 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 gre ...more
Adam Floridia
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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?!"
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Atri
Jul 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Notice when you're happy, and know when you've got enough. ...more
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 w
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Numidica
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some remarkable speeches in this book, including the one he delivered in 172 while the Vietnam War was still ongoing, and his comments therein could be repeated without modification today. I've always loved Kurt Vonnegut, and the older I get, the more I appreciate his worldview. "Godammit babies, you've gotta be kind!"

The only reason I don't give it five stars is that Kurt re-used some stories and statements, so in a few cases the speeches repeat each other, but it's easy enough to ski
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Nada Elshabrawy
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, audio
I wish I could watch these lectures.
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 straightforwa
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Sleepless Dreamer
Sep 05, 2019 rated it liked it
Walking out of a concert through Maryland suburbia and it's drizzling, just a little bit. After sweating so much in the show, it feels refreshing, cleansing. Lightning streaks through the sky and I'm listening to the music I heard live not even 5 minutes ago (and also Dear Evan Hansens' soundtrack). And I'm so exhausted but in that moment, I found myself thinking, "If this isn't nice, what is?".

Or a few minutes before, surrounded by people and we're all dancing, we're complete strangers but it f
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George Ilsley
Mar 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
A collection of graduation speeches given by Kurt Vonnegut over the years. There are overlapping elements— such as what his uncle liked to say, perhaps while sipping lemonade under a shade tree: “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

And thus the title to this book. I didn’t mind the repetition, because we all need to be reminded of gentle wisdom, to notice and appreciate our surroundings, to be grateful for teachers, of the value of the wisdom of role models like Jesus Christ. Vonnegut is a humanist, bu
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D.C.
Apr 11, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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. ...more
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. ...more
Tatevik
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. is my favorite public speaker. Ironically enough, I've never read his fiction. Every time I order books, my bookstore is out of his books. Vonnegut sure has a huge fan club who deprives me of the pleasure to buy his books! I hope I will buy his books soon!

What I liked about his speeches - he does not do that motivational pieces that will end up on YouTube as one of the best Commencement speeches for Ivy League schools. He does not try to make you become this self-motivated pers
...more
Jeff
This short audiobook was a freebie on Audible. It is a collection of some of Vonnegut's college graduation speeches with a final chapter composed of a collection of "quotes to ponder". Typical Vonnegut, witty and funny. Some duplication of stories, which I guess is to be expected if you are going to put a collection of his speeches together.

I see there are two expanded versions of this available in print with the third edition consisting of a total of fourteen speeches and four personal essay. I
...more
Jeff
May 26, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeff by: Holly
Shelves: non-fiction
Mostly good stuff from start to finish. From a reader's perspective, the repetition is occasionally grating. But what was Uncle Kurt supposed to do differently? Those are presumably his go-to ideas. Can we reasonably expect him to have so many good ideas that he'd never repeat them? He really Really REALLY likes some of those ideas and he feels they're the best he has to offer young people.

Thanks for being a surrogate uncle to millions, Mr Vonnegut.



Now for some self-indulgence. If i were a celeb
...more
Sal Coraccio
Jul 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...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 befo ...more
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
Shaun Hutchinson
Great book of many of Vonnegut's speeches. There were some overlaps, but this was still a wonderful read. ...more
britt_brooke
Aug 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I love this title quote (a saying from his uncle). This is a brief collection of college graduation speeches and other such speaking engagements. As usual with Vonnegut, there’s plenty of absurdity and hard truths. Often funny, yet dark, he paints interesting points while offering poignant advice. This is 100% for established Vonnegut fans. I need a physical copy for my collection!
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,
...more
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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 journali
...more

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“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” 4190 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?”
102 likes
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