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What Now?

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  2,293 Ratings  ·  345 Reviews
Based on her lauded commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College, this stirring essay by bestselling author Ann Patchett offers hope and inspiration for anyone at a crossroads, whether graduating, changing careers, or transitioning from one life stage to another. With wit and candor, Patchett tells her own story of attending college, graduating, and struggling with the i ...more
ebook, 112 pages
Published April 15th 2008 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published April 7th 2008)
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Alonna Shaw
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone wondering about life and what to do. Graduates, quarterlife crisis, midlife crisis.
Recommended to Alonna by: found on internet
A very quick and inspiring read. Originally a commencement speech at her alma mater, Sarah Lawrence, Patchett describes how life continuously presents new "What Nows." F. Scott Fitzgerald had a similar way of dealing with life in "This Side of Paradise" by having his character "Do the next thing." Both sentiments are applicable to the new graduate and anyone on the planet... because when faced with obstacles or doldroms we all wonder "What Now?"

Favorite excerpts:
"Sometimes the circumstances at h
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, audiobooks
I really enjoyed this speech-turned-essay. So many wonderful morsels of wisdom to "chew on". She shares a few personal anecdotes, but does not make the speech about herself. It is inspiring and contemplative, encouraging her audience to look inward for happiness; and then sharing it with the world.

Because it was a commencement speech that she have at her alma mater, it is almost guaranteed that it will remind you of your college/university days. Unfortunately, I don't remember anything about th
“Just because things hadn't gone the way I had planned didn't necessarily mean they had gone wrong.”

This was a very powerful and moving essay that I feel like came in my life during the perfect time, considering I just graduated high school and that question seems to be suffocating me. It really offered me a new perspective and made me feel a lot more comforted. I needed this in my life, and I think that I will be re-reading it any time that nagging question pops in my head again. I'd recommen
This makes for a long commencement speech, but a short audiobook. I can see how many people would find it inspiring and reassuring, despite its cliche flavor.

I like that it's not necessarily geared specifically at new college graduates; Patchett emphasizes that we reach many different intimidating crossroads throughout our lives. And that these unsure times should be cherished rather than rushed. But, damn, as always, it's a whole lot easier to say that once you're older and already know that yo
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great way to start 2012.

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Ann Patchett's writing in Bel Canto, and I am excited to rediscover her and plan to read several of her novels this year.

"What Now?" is a short Commencement Address that she gave at her alma mater - Sarah Lawrence.

It is full of good advice for anyone.

My favorite passages:

"And sometimes, we don't realize what we've learned until we've already known it for a very long time."

"I never stop having to learn: to pay attention to the thing
Cynthia McCloud
I liked what Ann Patchett has to say very much. I am giving my copy to a young person graduating this week from a "second-chance" military-style program with his GED. He is struggling mightily with "What now?" I highlighted several places in my copy where I want the recipient to pay attention -- phrases that I think will comfort if not instruct him.

What I did not like about this book is the way it is put together. Apparently Patchett's text alone, even double-spaced, would be no more than a bro
Kieran Walsh
Mar 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not particularly Rocket Science but nice to read something assuring by an author that I've liked for years. Typically I don't take much interest in Commencement Speeches (though I did really enjoy watching Barbara Kinsolver's speech at Duke) but there's something rather refreshingly positive about telling students to seize the day, enjoy the undecidedeness of decision making and to savor youth and its (almost)career innocence. It probably wasn't something I'd have run out to buy but a friend gav ...more
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joanne Guidoccio
Apr 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having recently discovered Ann Patchett’s wonderful novels, I was pleasantly surprised to discover she had also written a stirring essay based on her commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College.

Less than one hundred pages in length, What Now? can easily be read in one sitting. Using anecdotes from her own life, Patchett offers many simple truths and life lessons that will inspire anyone at a crossroads, not just newly-minted graduates.

As a recent retiree, I recall facing the What Now? quest
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
LOVE Ann Patchett. This is beautiful but simple, wise and relatable. She talks about how she was excited to make the decision of where to go to school but had to eventually come back to answering "What now?" Then she decided to go to grad school but ultimately that took her back to "What now?" I like how she points out that it's not school that makes us better people but working and taking what comes, even if it's not what we expected or planned. We can't control every thing (like her duck hunti ...more
Antony Antoniou
Mar 27, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really cannot find any meaning for the existence of this book. It is a constant self-appraisal monologue that goes on for ever. (where is humility and so on..) Recommended for church school list of books. Even the photographs although some interesting by themselves (black and whites, abstract e.t.c.), they are shuttered between the pages in a very childish over explanatory manner. For instance she writes something about two paths to follow in life, the next thing you see is a very good picture ...more
Dec 16, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ruby by: found it at the library
(Essay)-What now? Good question. One I have been asking myself since my junior year in high school. I've never felt very good at finding the answer. Once I married and had children, I felt it was answered for a good, long time but now that three of mine are young adults and I only have a very responsible 12-year-old at home, I'm back to "What now?" again. Unfortunately, despite all my life experience, I don't have any clearer answers than I had in high school. Patchetts' ponderings didn't provid ...more
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audiobook What now? written and read by Ann Patchett, a favourite author of mine. This book is based on a commencement address she made at Sarah Lawrence College.

I love listening to her voice! She offers inspiration and hope and stresses the importance of listening and staring.

With humour and honesty she tells about the twists and turns in the path she followed to reach her goal of becoming a novelist - college, graduating, cooking, teaching and waitressing, demonstrated how s
The audio version was an added bonus, because I think of Ann Patchett as not just a writer but a storyteller. Hearing her give her speech in her own words made it more accessible. The question "What now?" is answered for her audience - college graduates - as she shows that the question isn't answerable, that the "next thing" is always a work in progress. Slight but full of wisdom. 3 1/2 stars.
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very short little book, but very good. It emphasizes the importance of being open to what happens to us versus the emphasis I think we more commonly put on what we should be doing with ourselves. In the end, she advocates for a balance between the two, but the book - actually an expanded commencement speech - is a good reminder that many of our most valuable experiences are not expected or planned.
Jan 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This bright and beautiful essay makes the wandering (and sometime frantic) search for one's own path through life seem like the best and most exciting adventure of our lives (I hope it is!). The writing was fresh and fast-paced and felt like a comforting embrace from a beloved friend. Don't miss this quick read with funny pictures, too!
Mar 20, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I've been on an Ann Patchett kick recently. This commencement speech asked "What now?" It tells her story of life after college, life as a grown-up, and how seemingly insignificant experiences actually laid the way to her current life. Life is just a string of nows.
Morgan Sohl
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
enjoyed listening to this. good quick read for when your at a crossroads in life
Oct 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved her voice and her message, but I want to reread this book to see if I can absorb more. But, this was recommended to me by someone and I would suggest this to all of my writerly friends.
Una Tiers
A very short story about following your dreams. One remarkable phrase: I couldn't write words big enough to ask for so much.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book to the two high school graduates in my life this year, and then re-read my own copy. Now I'm wishing I had underlined and highlighted parts in the copies I gave, because there are several places that I thought: yes! this! pay attention to this! life is like this and you might not think anyone else thinks so too!
Patchett continues to be one of my favorite writers, whether she's creating fictional worlds or reflecting on her own experiences. She writes elegantly without being over
Timothy Neesam
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From Bel Canto to the Liars Club, I have always enjoyed Ann Patchett's writing. This commencement speech written for students of Sarah Lawrence College, from which she graduated, is wry, humourous and honest. In it, Patchett explains how she grew through a series of incidents, ranging from knocking on a stranger's door to waitressing and washing dishes. It's brief, excellent story about finding as much joy in the journey as reaching the destination. Recommended for just about anyone. A short, lo ...more
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very short and moderately inspiring, the length of a podcast. I wanted more in my post-women's-march "what's next?" consciousness but this was written for a very different time, place, audience. Favorite quote: "Once you decide that strangers are more than just dangerous accidents waiting to happen, you will find yourself willing to listen."
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, non-fiction, kindle
Simple yet wise.

The question in the title and the subject matter of this essay is something I'm grappling with (feels like I'm always grappling with it, to be honest). I found this book by chance and thought it might do me some good to read words meant to help in the process of "What now?". They did.

It didn't give me answers, but it helped.

I needed that.
this is really short and really sweet, for me it hit home. I found this essay by chance, and I guess... well, that's exactly what she talks about. I'm really curious about her and want to explore the rest of her work now.
Jennifer Jimenez
The speech itself was good, but it gets only 3 stars because the design of the book wqs terrible. The corny ???s and the distracting ohotos seemed to only be put in place to make the book a signature longer. Seriously, try to find a video or a PDF of the speech instead.
Lyndi Brown
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dear Anne Patchett - I gobbled up your Commonwealth this month, and was bereft to let you go. Browsing around the library, I stumbled upon What Now, and devoured it before lights out. A wonderful book, inspired by your Commencement address at Sarah Lawrence, your alma mater. Serendipity.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Timely advice to college graduates from a writer.
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on her address to graduates of Sarah Lawrence College when Patchett was the commencement speaker.
Lots to think about
A good, short read.
Cindy Bellomy
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked the text, hated the dopey, "inspirational' pictures.
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Patchett was born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother is the novelist Jeanne Ray.

She moved to Nashville, Tennessee when she was six, where she continues to live. Patchett said she loves her home in Nashville with her doctor husband and dog. If asked if she could go any place, that place would always be home. "Home is ...the stable window that opens out into the imagination."

Patchett attended hi
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“Just because things hadn't gone the way I had planned didn't necessarily mean they had gone wrong.” 174 likes
“Coming back is the thing that enables you to see how all the dots in your life are connected, how one decision leads you another, how one twist of fate, good or bad, brings you to a door that later takes you to another door, which aided by several detours--long hallways and unforeseen stairwells--eventually puts you in the place you are now.” 77 likes
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