J. K. Rowling is one of my idols. I’m just smitten with her. The only thing I would camp outside a store to buy would be her memoir. This little keepsake book, Very Good Lives, was a thrill to me. My only issue is that I wish it was longer!
The book contains the text of Rowling’s 2008 Harvard commencement speech. There were several funny moments that I imagine got a pretty good laugh from the audience. That graduating class was the exact right age to have encountered the advent of Harry Potter when they were age 7. Picture reading Harry Potter all through your childhood, only to finish university with a speech from the author herself. I’m more jealous of the fact that these kids got to read Harry Potter in childhood than I am that they grew up to go to Harvard. (I’ve been to Boston in December and they can keep it).
Very Good Lives is about failure. Rowling points out that she never knew her particular story would have a fairy tale ending until it happened. She says that if she had had conventional success, she never would have gone in the direction she did. Rock bottom makes a firm foundation.
Very Good Lives is also about what makes a good life. The message about how lucky we are to live in the Western world, and how we therefore have a duty to work to improve the lives of others, is very strong.
A lot of young graduates will most likely be receiving gift copies of this book. I hope so, anyway.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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