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Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  20,114 ratings  ·  2,681 reviews
In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a deeply affecting commencement speech at Harvard University. Now published for the first time in book form, VERY GOOD LIVES presents J.K. Rowling's words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life. How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others?

Drawing from stories of her own post-gra
Hardcover, 74 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Little, Brown and Company
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Popular Answered Questions
Chelsea Bee It's just the speech, with illustrations. There is no real content besides the speech, unfortunately.
Rohini Murugan No. Its not related to Harry Potter in anyway except the fact that this book covers the words spoken by its author, J.K.Rowling which she gave back in…moreNo. Its not related to Harry Potter in anyway except the fact that this book covers the words spoken by its author, J.K.Rowling which she gave back in 2009 as a commencement speech in Harvard University.(less)

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4.24  · 
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 ·  20,114 ratings  ·  2,681 reviews

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Jesse (JesseTheReader)
Jul 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
simply inspiring.
(B+) 78% | Good
Notes: Her advice isn't especially deep or revelatory or new, but it's presented well and reading it just makes you feel better.
Raeleen Lemay
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, nonfiction
Beautiful. This is going right next to Neil Gaiman's Make Good Art on my bookshelf.
Bill  Kerwin
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it

I enjoyed and admire Rowling’s speech to Harvard graduates (class of 2008). If it is not quite the equal of the greatest commencement addresses of this century—David Foster Wallace at Kenyon (2005), George Saunders at Syracuse (2013)—it is still memorable. It speaks to the nature of its audience, gives good advice both on how to profit from adversity and also how to discern what is valuable, and—as a bonus—it illustrates its points with revealing glimpses into the heart of one of the most succes
Mohammed Arabey
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
قد تعتقد أن تقييمي للكتاب بسبب شغفي بالمؤلفة فحسب

فدعونا نتفق أن تقرأ 'خطبة' من تلك الخطب التي تلقي علي الطلبة يوم تخرجهم هو أمر ليس مشجعا علي اﻷطلاق..حتي إن كان الكتاب شكله جذابا

بل والخطبة هي عن أهمية وفوائد الفشل....تخيل؟

وبالفعل تعترف جوان رولينج في بداية خطبتها أنها نفسها لم تعد تتذكر الخطبة التي سمعتها يوم تخرجها بعد أيام قليلة من التخرج، بالرغم من اهمية وقوة من ألقت هذه الخطبة..بالرغم من أهمية يوم التخرج نفسه، تخرجنا للحياة الحقيقية,الواسعة

ولكن أعتقد أن بقراءتي للخطبة ، وبهذا التصميم الجذاب
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

This genius woman. J. K. Rowling you're my favourite author. You forever will be.

Find more of my books on Instagram
Lala BooksandLala
Aug 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
"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."
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: j-k-rowling
The reason I gave this book 4.5 stars instead of 5 is because it was so short. This is the published form of J K Rowling's commencement address to Harvard graduates in 2008. Her words of wisdom ring true to all, and she even managed to sneak in a few Potter references. I finished in about 15 minutes, and am wishful to think that J K can publish a longer book of essays, which I am sure many of us would be happy to read.
Archit Ojha
Jul 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Archit by: Pooja
Shelves: ebooks
Life's good.

You know, that life is 90 percent what happens to you and 10 percent how you react to it.

Rightly so, we are all defined by the choices that we make. JKR amalgamates humor with emotions exhibiting the knowledge that accrues with time.

There's a quote from this book that found its place onto my bedroom wall.

Poverty is romanticized only by the fools.

Richness comes in various currencies. Friends, money, career, society.

Make sure you are #1 in each and every one of them.
Clumsy Storyteller
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
“So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realised, and I was still alive, and ...more
“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

Very inspiring! JK Rowling has a magical way with words. Love it!
May 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Never was a more true word spoken. A gifted speech from a gifted author. Definitely worth then 20 minutes to finish it!
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-favorites
"And rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life."

All the people in J.K Rowling's life must feel so incredibly blessed.
I would.

As a die-hard Harry Potter fan, I have read a lot about J.K and her fascinating life before all the Harry Potter craziness. Very Good Lives does a great job of showing some of the wisdom she gained from this time.

This 'book' is actually just a commencement speech she made at Harvard, years ago, and published so that the funds would go to her Lu
Jamie-leigh Haughn
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
Amazing. Inspirational. Wonderful. Read it!
Kayla Dawn
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
Vorab das Buch ist wunderschön aufgemacht, es sind viele süße Illustrationen drin und auch das Buch selbst (ohne Schutzumschlag) ist super schön.
Die Rede die Rowling hier gehalten hat, war auch sehr schön und inspirierend, nur bin ich mir nicht sicher, ob es wirklich notwenig war, diese zu drucken. Kriege den Gedanken der puren Geldmacherei nicht ganz aus meinem Kopf 😜
Apr 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a commencement speech at Harvard University. Years after her visit to Harvard, people still talk about it and because of the impact it has made the speech was published today, April 14th, in book form. The sales of Very Good Lives will benefit Lumos, a non-profit international children’s organization founded by J.K. Rowling, which works to end the institutionalization of children around the world.

J.K. Rowling said about the charity:

“Lumos is a spell I created in H
Dec 06, 2014 marked it as to-read
While we wait, it's worth checking out this other adaptation of her speech by ZEN PENCILS:

(The rest is linked in the image)

Oh, and here, have a link to the video of the full speech.
Kyoko SWords
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Es curioso, todo el mundo cree que odio a J.K. Rowling porque nunca he leído (o visto) nada de Harry Potter y decidí no hacerlo por lo menos en unos 10 años más (gracias al algunos fans que no me dejan en paz con el tema y me hicieron cogerle fobia); pero la realidad es que conocía la historia de vida de J.K. Rowling y siempre admiré su carrera: salir del fondo no es fácil y ella no solo lo superó, si no que brilló al final... Y leer sob
Franco  Santos
“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”
Gran discurso de Rowling. Me gustó mucho. Algunas ideas tratadas ya estaban sobreexplotadas hasta el punto de ser casi tópicos, pero recato las partes del rol de la imaginación y su relación con la empatía y cómo el fracaso nos revela lo que realmente debemos seguir, como una especie de filtro.

Perfecto para ocupar unos minutos libres, puesto que es breve y va
Well worth the fifteen (okay, ten) minutes it takes to read.

In addition, if you want a starting point to have a conversation with your middle or high school age kid, read this together. Listen to what your kid says. Rinse. Lather. Repeat. Just an idea.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it
“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
I wish you all very good lives.”
― J.K. Rowling, Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination

Well written, as anything by this author would be, I found the ideas presented very valuable and well put, but her speech wasn't that inspirational to me.
This was so touching and powerful that now I have to own this little nugget. I do believe in the power of imagination and the importance of stories. That is part of the reason I spend so much time reading to my niece and nephew. Imagination gives us the power to change our view of the world and what is more important than that power.

She also speaks to failure. Who hasn’t failed at something in this world. It has the power to be a great teacher. I love the story of Thomas Edison and his lightbul
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english
“And many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know.”

I can tell you right now that this is the only graduation speech I will ever read. Unless J.K.Rowling wil
Fa Orozco
Es justo lo que esperas al saber de que trata; un discurso motivacional sobre ser empáticos, aprender de nuestros fracasos y creer en aquello que nos apasiona.

Las ilustraciones son muy lindas, es el tipo de libro que puede ser gran obsequio para fanáticos de la autora o recién graduados. No es mi discurso de graduación favorito (para eso prefiero el de Neil Gaiman que he visto el video original más no lo he leído en texto) pero el mensaje es lindo y acertado.
Josu Grilli
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-mayo
Un discurso increíble en una edición simplemente espectacular. Rowling consigue emocionar narrando experiencias de su pasado que le han formado como personas, tratando de transmitirle al lector que la vida es mucho más que un trabajo. La vida es una experiencia continua que hay que vivir, y la cual hay que afrontar con inteligencia e imaginación. Hay pasajes de su vida complicados, duros y llenos de tristeza, pero ella consigue resumirlos en algo similar a las cenizas del ave Fénix: destruido mo ...more
Isa Cantos (Crónicas de una Merodeadora)
"Tal vez nunca fracaséis de una forma tan estrepitosa como yo, pero en la vida es inevitable fracasar alguna vez. Es imposible vivir sin fracasar en algo, a menos que seas tan prudente que no se pueda decir que hayas vivido, y en ese caso fracasas por omisión".

Sólo a Queen J. K. Rowling le permito que me dé un discurso sobre la importancia del fracaso en la vida, de levantarse y aprender de los errores y, sobre todo, de usar la creatividad para imaginarnos soluciones y ponernos en la piel del ot
Jo Reads
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
JK parla dritta al mio cuore oggi come 20 anni fa, quando lessi il primo capitolo di Harry Potter.
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-novels
In Very Good Lives, J.K. Rowling shares the benefits of failure in one's life and why it is a necessity to overcome fears.

I was browsing JKR's interview videos and stumbled upon this.

That moment, something changed inside me.

It's like you read a book and you know it has altered you in a good way, but you can't put it in words until you go back retrospecting.

When I happened to know it was a commencement speech, I didn't know what does that word even mean!

Commencement: a new start, beginning.

So w
Shannon (leaninglights)
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I may be in the minority here, but I had never heard or read Very Good Lived before now. It is JK Rowling's commencement speech at Harvard in 2008. I picked up the book because the proceeds of its sales go to JK's Lumos charity and also because it's JK Freaking Rowling. The book is small, as it is a speech, but it is beautifully written and put together. Alongside JK's inspiring and thought-provoking words there are illustrations and doodles that add so much to the reading experience. I absolute ...more
Jun 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
"We do not need magic to transform our world; we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better."

This woman never ceases to blow my mind into smithereens with her words, and this expressively, yet eloquently put novella with less than a hundred pages is no exception. Rowling talks us through her life experiences and the best way to move forward with baggage that every one of us has to some extent.

"It is impossible to live without failing at somethin
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See also: Robert Galbraith
Although she writes under the pen name J.K. Rowling, pronounced like rolling, her name when her first Harry Potter book was published was simply Joanne Rowling. Anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers demanded that she use two initials, rather than her full name. As she had no middle name, she ch
“I have one last hope for you, which is something that I already had at 21. The friends with whom I sat on graduation day have been my friends for life. They are my children’s godparents, the people to whom I’ve been able to turn in times of trouble, friends who have been kind enough not to sue me when I’ve used their names for Death Eaters. At our graduation we were bound by enormous affection, by our shared experience of a time that could never come again, and, of course, by the knowledge that we held certain photographic evidence that would be exceptionally valuable if any of us ran for Prime Minister.” 976 likes
“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.
I wish you all very good lives.”
More quotes…