You know me, I like a good book, and I like a good challenge. When I first read about Rachel and Amber's #Collaboreads series, I was positively delighted. It's the summer of books, as I said a few weeks ago, and I love the idea of sharing reviews with fellow book enthusiasts. Each month of the challenge there will be certain criteria. June's was the following:
On the NYT Best-sellers List When You Start Reading
I scanned the list the first week of June, marking a few titles (I downloaded The Girl on the Train as an audio book initially!) and then when I was wandering around Target I spotted the shiny cover of J.K. Rowling's Very Good Lives (which had been #2 under Education).
Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!
First things first, I adore J.K. Rowling. My love affair with the Harry Potter series seriously marked my childhood and has left lasting effects throughout the years. I just finished re-reading the final four books last month, and I've recently wanted to get my hands on her other fiction pieces.
PS. Is anyone else excited for the next series of movies?! JKR is writing the screenplays for a spin off series based on (a HP Textbook) Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them. It will be set in 1920's New York AND Eddie Redmayne is going to play the lead, Newt Scamander. Y'all, I'm beside myself with happiness! Okay, back to the book.
This little book, Very Good Lives, is a recording of JKR's 2008 address at the graduation commencement at Harvard University. I don't remember a thing anyone said at my graduation, but if she had been the guest of honor you bet I would have! I actually read it cover to cover while wandering said Target, but one of these days it will come home with me. Her words are simply that good.
Now onto the promos provided by the #Collaboreads team:
RIVETING. What part of the book could you NOT get enough of?
- JKR's writing style is so easy to follow, and it's easy to picture her at the podium that graduation day, eager faces turned up at here, or sitting across from you at a coffee shop (wouldn't that be a dream?!). I, of course, loved any and all Harry Potter references, but I was mostly fascinated by her story. She gives readers and audience members a glimpse into her unique post-grad/pre-HP-glory journey which is encouraging no matter where we are on our own path.
- A favorite quote: "Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation; in its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared."
- THIS is what I love about what I do as a theatre artist! It's part of what makes theatre so powerful. Anywho, moving on ;)
ELEMENTS. How did you relate to/care for the characters? What's your thought on the plot line and twists and turns?
- I suppose this isn't your conventional novel, so these questions don't entirely apply. However, the tagline of the book is "The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination" which are her two key points in the speech. As creatives, and as people in general, I think both need to be embraced for success and a better quality of life, and her words on the two are honey.
- Another favorite quote: "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."
ASSOCIATE. What other books are like this one? If none, did it remind you of a particular TV or movie with it's themes and characters? Does it serendipitous-ly line-up with things going on in your life or the news right now?
- I'm sure I'm not the only one to have received a gift book from well meaning teachers or family members after high school or college graduation. I particularly remember the sporty and pink UChic: The College Girl's Guide to Everything (although I don't remember reading it...) and The Red Rubber Ball (I did read that one! But I don't remember what it said...). However, this is a book I would ABSOLUTELY gift to someone graduating, experiencing that life-altering transition into "the real world". Returning to the ideas of imagination and failure, both can be daunting as the major change is being made, but both are worthy of sharing JKR's wisdom.
DESIGN. You know you judged this book by the cover. What did you think of it? How did it relate to the contents of the novel? And the font and layout of the pages?
- A pretty script and plenty of white space certainly caught my eye with this one! It's smaller than the novels it sat beside but is larger than the gift books I listed above, and only around 40 pages. Each page of text is partnered with an illustration or a pull-quote in a similar style, pleasing in its aesthetic and memorable. The main font was nothing special, but it didn't need any embellishment there. All in all, I thought it was fitting and enjoyable!
STARS. How many out of five do you give this book? Would you recommend this book to a friend?
- I'd give it 5/5 stars in its category, for sure! It was entertaining, encouraging, and an easy read. I'd absolutely recommend it (even if you simply browse it in the store like me) and feel free to watch it live from the queen herself HERE.