#4 Very Good Lives (#23)

“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.”

Without question, my most anticipated book release of 2015 was “Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination” by J.K. Rowling, which was published yesterday (April 14th). This small non-fiction book is her Harvard commencement speech from 2008, which has been astonishingly well published, to benefit her charity Lumos.

Since I myself am graduating (from the same University that J.K. Rowling did, no less) in three months time, (assuming I pass my dissertation and finals), this book really could not have been published at a more opportune time for me.

I absolutely devoured it, despite having previously watched the speech on YouTube, and loved having her thoughts and feelings on paper, which I could read, re-read and read again as I pleased. However, I wouldn’t have felt content putting it towards my 2015 Reading Challenge (as #4 A book published this year) without providing you with some of my favourite quotes…

My Goodreads Review
“‘Very Good Lives’ by J.K. Rowling is a non-fiction publication of her Harvard commencement speech of 2008. The material in this book is nothing new, in fact you can watch the speech on YouTube, but it is presented in written format for the first time.
The book itself is stunning, inside and out, and the speech J.K. Rowling delivered to that graduating class was incredibly interesting, and comprised many excellent quotes, including the following:

  • Achievable goals: the first step to self-improvement.
  • 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 failed be default.
  • You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gift.

Drawing on her own experiences, J.K. Rowling reflected on her life since herself graduating 21 years previously, and what she wished she had known at that time in her life.
Two key messages are addressed: the fringe benefits of failure and the importance of imagination, both of which are dealt with individually, and then beautifully concluded.
There are a number of references to ‘Harry Potter’ littered within this book, but it is primarily focused on enriching your own life, by enriching others.
‘As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.’”


The book itself (under the dustjacket) is one of the most beautiful hardcovers I’ve ever seen – the U.K.’s attempts are pretty hardcovers usually pale in comparison with their U.S. counterparts, but this is stunning! The illustrations in this book are absolutely delightful, and I love how some of the quotes were incorporated into them – I’m not going to provide any further photos, you really should discover them for yourself! Even more delightfully, the proceeds from the sales of this book go to Lumos, helping institutionalised children worldwide – and if that’s not a reason to pick up a copy of this book, I don’t know what is!

#4 A book published this year (2015) – Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling (8/10)

Twenty-two down, twenty-eight to go. (Twenty-three read)

My journey will also be instagrammed frequently on @charlottebibliophile

5 thoughts on “#4 Very Good Lives (#23)

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