Monday, 24 August 2015

Very Good Lives by JK Rowling Review

Very Good Lives is the commencement address JK Rowling gave at Harvard University in 2008 which discusses the concepts of failure and imagination. 

Rowling talks about the merits of failure in that (if they recover) it makes a person stronger and wiser, and how it set her free and on the path of a successful novelist:

“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 where I believed I truly belonged.” 

Her discussion of imagination is equally stirring but more moving, drawing on her experiences with working at Amnesty International in her early 20s. She describes working with survivors of horrific experiences and how imagination breeds compassion in people – the more people who use their imaginations, the less violence there could be in the world. More importantly, real change in the world begins with a single person imagining it first. Using her Classics degree, she quotes Plutarch: “What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.” 

It’s a beautifully structured speech with Rowling making these ancient themes her own by framing it through her life experiences, motivating the reader into positive forward motion and inspiring them to live courageously and passionately in the world. It’s a short read but a powerful one – Very Good Lives is very, very good. 

Never read anything by Jo Rowling before- she’s not bad, is she? I think she’ll do well… 

“As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.” - Seneca

Very Good Lives

1 comment:

  1. Honestly, the Harry Potter books are quite good, considering the genre of young adult fiction. Forget the stripped down movies.