15 June, 2016

Very good lives: the fringe benefits of failure and the importance of imagination by J.K. Rowling

Rarely do I get a chance to recommend a speech as an entertaining bedtime read, but when J.K. Rowling is the writer, an exception must be made.

This book is the published commencement address that Ms Rowling gave at Harvard University in 2008, an honour which she took seriously enough to be ill over. The book has been placed in the Dewey area of “personal improvement": a do-goody area I usually avoid as reading within it usually has the perverse effect of making me feel worse about myself. However, it could just as well have been classified under “humour”: a much more palatable choice and one bound to make anyone feel good.

For her lucky Harvard University audience, J.K. Rowling discusses the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination succinctly and wittily in this light volume that is interspersed with descriptive graphics that reinforce the story on each page. It is a lovely looking little hard-cover and is the sort of book that improves with multiple readings and would make a very good gift for a new graduate (or a struggling would-be writer).

Since reading this little gem, I’ve started taking a closer look at the do-goody section lately in the hopes that another witty treasure may be found amongst them.

Very good lives: the fringe benefits of failure and the importance of imagination by J.K. Rowling.

Reviewed by Monica F, Waitakere Central Library, Henderson.

Monica F is happiest in gumboots and apron, attending to her animals, harvesting her crops and making stuff. Like all truly wholesome people, she has a dark side, and enjoys nothing better than well written true crime and forensic medicine.

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