Tag Archives: Very Good Lives

WWW Wednesday, 29-April-2015

29 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


White TigerCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Please don’t be mad. I want to finish this and I will return to it.
Steady progress with Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. I’m close to the end but know that I’m nowhere close to the end of this story. It’s obvious this first book will barely touch the tip of the iceberg in the series.
I’ll be a long time reading A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. It’s been a good journey so far, but I’ve only just begun. Not sure how long this is going to take, but I’m guessing a while.
I finally started The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga! Yes, after such a long wait, I’ve finally started. So far, it’s alright. The narrator has a very strong voice that makes the whole thing really fun.
I’m unable to cook without an audiobook now so I started another on my phone, The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. My amazing friend Katherine suggested this one to me because it’s set in the 1920s and she knows how much I love the 20s. So far it’s really fun. I’m excited to get more into it.

DarklyRecently finished: I finished A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick last week. It wasn’t my favorite, but it was ok. Review coming next week.

Speaking of reviews, I posted two this week. I reviewed Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling on Monday and posted a review for Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell yesterday. Take a look and tell me what you think!

Reading Next: My book club met Monday and our next book is going to be The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer. This is part of the ‘Everyone’s Reading’ program so I’m sure there will be some other posts about this book. I hope I enjoy it!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling (5/5)

27 Apr

I’m so glad I knew about this book. I saw it on Pinterest and didn’t know when it was coming out. Then fellow book blogger Read A Latte posted about it and I knew it was available at Barnes & Noble. So during an Educator Appreciate Event, I made my husband come with me so I could grab this and a few others at 25% off (reason to marry a teacher!). I felt like a stud because the buy at the register hadn’t seen it yet. Epic win.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling

Summary from Goodreads:

In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a deeply affecting commencement speech at Harvard University. Now published for the first time in book form, Very Good Lives offers J.K. Rowling’s words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life, asking the profound and provocative questions: How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others?

Drawing from stories of her own post-graduate years, the world-famous author addresses some of life’s most important issues with acuity and emotional force.

As the description says, this is a speech and it is a very short book. I don’t want to misrepresent that. I read the whole thing in about a half hour. But that’s not to diminish its value. This is a really great book and a good read. J.K. Rowling is my writing icon and knowing how much she went through to get to where she is now is very motivating to someone aspiring after what she’s done. I liked that this was a speech to college graduates. When I was about to graduate college, I was a very different person than who I am now, a short 3 years later. Rowling recognized that in these students and the speech was perfect for the audience.

A lot of the questions I use to guide my reviews are not relevant because of the format of this book so my review will be brief. I could relate to Rowling’s definitions of failure. There have been times that I’ve been down on my luck and known that in someone else’s eyes, I was a failure. But that doesn’t mean I had to brand myself in the same way. Rowling never let society’s definition of failure hold her back and I think this has helped her flourish. She talked about how friends helped her when she needed them most and I think that there is no success without the support of others. That’s why you always see lists of people thanked in the back of books and hear as many names as possible in acceptance speeches. We all achieve with our network.

Rowling talked about how her experience and time working at Amnesty International shaped her opinions and feelings on many things. For me, this confirmed that her books are about oppression from someone, perhaps an African warlord, and having the strength to stand up and say something. I’ve compared Voldemort to Hitler but maybe she was thinking of Theoneste Bagosora, one of the orchestrators of the Rwandan Genocide. To me, this confirms that her books are aimed at ending racial or ethnic hate among people. I was really glad to read this.

J.K. Rowling Image via The Telegraph

J.K. Rowling
Image via The Telegraph

Rowling had two main messages which are spelled out in the subtitle of the book, The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination. I’ve already talked about her section on failure, but I want to comment on her remarks regarding imagination. She’s not talking about all of us being able to write stories about magical wizards and orphans changing the world. Rowling says that with an exercised imagination, humans are able to imagine what others are feeling and why they are acting in a certain way. Imagine enables us to empathize with other humans. Here’s is my favorite quote from the book,

…those who choose not to empathize enable real monsters. For without ever committing an act of outright evil ourselves, we collude with it through our own apathy.

I am in love with this quote. I have a new one to live by.

Writer’s Takeaway: I would love it if I were one day asked to make a commencement speech at Harvard. I would hope that I’m able to come up with such wonderful lessons as what Rowling was able to impart in her words. She used good anecdotes to get her message across and did it in a short amount of time. Bravo, Ms. Rowling!

A wonderful book. I only wish it hadn’t taken 7 years to make it to print. A full 5 out of 5 Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
5 Inspiring Quotes from J.K. Rowling’s New Book ‘Very Good Lives’ | Screen Reels
5 Essential, Inspiring Quotes from J.K. Rowling’s ‘Very Good Lives’ | Read a Latte

WWW Wednesday, 22-April-2015

22 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


GameofThronesCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It will come, I promise, but not just yet.
I’ve made some minor progress on Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. It’s getting there, just taking longer than I thought. I’m about 60% done now and 10% of that was in the last week so don’t give up on my yet.
Will making my way through A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. Not a huge fan so far. Science Fiction I like is rare so I’m not surprised by this one, but we’ll see how I like it when I’m done.
New audiobook to announce! I hope some of you will be happy to hear I started A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin! It’s too early for me to say how I’m feeling about it, but this will be here for a long time for me to give out my opinion.

VeryGoodLivesRecently finished: I finished the audio for Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell on Friday. Look for a review coming soon!
I also picked up a copy of J.K. Rowling’s Very Good Lives. It’s a super short book and I read it in about a half hour, but totally worth picking up. I was proud that the man ringing me up at Barnes & Noble didn’t know about the book. I’m such a trendsetter, haha!

A few of you were asking for my review of Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. I posted it yesterday if you want to see what I thought.

White TigerReading Next: It will be The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I’ll start it as soon as I finish Scanner so hopefully it’s off this list next week!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!