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Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness Hardcover – April 22, 2014
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“The graduating college senior in your life probably just wants money. But if you want to impart some heartfelt, plainspoken wisdom in addition to a check, you can't do much better than [Congratulations, by the way].”—Entertainment Weekly
“The loving selflessness that [George Saunders] advises and the interconnectedness that he recognizes couldn’t be purer or simpler—or more challenging.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Warm and tender.”—Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
The speech is fantastic though, and this is a great "gift" book.
Saunders is right. If I had to name the happiest people I've met in my life and that I remember with the most fondness, it would be those who were consistently kind to me and to others.
If I could choose the legacy to leave when I depart this world - the way I'd like to be remembered, it might be "He was always kind" (I'm sure it won't be).
Saunders gives us the inspiration to be kind and a few suggestions as to how. Not bad for only a few words.
I then got in my car, surfed satellite radio for music, medical advice, whatever, and chanced upon someone being interviewed on NPR. As I listened, I was amazed to figure out that the person being interviewed was George Saunders talking about this very speech!!! Powerful positive reinforcement! I'm going to give this book to my daughters, grandchildren and close friends . . . and read it again . . . and again . . . myself!
But it's worth reading.
What advice do you give to graduating students? Often it's about how to succeed in the world -- e.g., find something you love to do and do it. And there have been memorable commencement speeches of that type. Some go beyond that, e.g., the speech that Steve Jobs gave to graduating Stanford students in 2005.
Saunders gives a very simple message -- be kind.
He asks himself what he regrets in his own life, from the vantage point of decades that the students he is talking to haven't experienced yet. And the thing that he identifies is his indifference toward a girl in his school when he was young. He wasn't mean to her, but he ignored her when she needed kindness.
I can certainly think of the missed opportunities in my life when I wasn't kind to someone -- it would have taken so little. My life won't be any the less for having missed that last jump shot in the final seconds of a basketball game. It will be less for having turned away from someone who I could have helped have a better life. Few of us can say that we've kept the right balance of self-interest and kindness.
I've read criticisms of Saunders' speech, that he ignores the material difficulties facing students who graduate from college today, with poor employment opportunities and often carrying heavy college loan debts on into their distant futures. I would imagine those things weigh more heavily on their minds than whether or not they are kind persons.Read more ›
I had a copy of the speech already but I purchased this book to make a small contribution and a show of solidarity with this attitude and thought process. A little more thoughtfulness and reflection on our part and who knows we may yet be able to roll back the last 30 years of greed and selfishness.
In 2013, Saunders delivered the convocation speech at Syracuse University for the class of 2013, and shared it with The New York Times where it was reprinted with his permission.
In April of 2014 the speech was published by Random House in this little book. Mr. Saunders argues that "as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder." He understands that we all have ambitions for fame, fortune and love but urges us as much as possible to: "err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial."
Although the entire graduation speech appears in The New York Times, the book is beautifully produced. The speech takes only about 15 minutes to read but each word carries weight and meaning. It is a speech to savor and re-read often. Although the speech is available online, I recommend buying the book. But in any event, the speech is absolutely worth reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This might be a good high school or college graduation present. Or perhaps a birthday present for a 40 or 50 year old.Published 12 days ago by Glenn
I love the message of this book and always send it as a graduation gift. Perfect!Published 2 months ago by Alden
Wonderful, short teaching on adult regret for graduates. It got me thinking what my greatest regret might be. So it is not just good for graduates, it is good for all adults.Published 3 months ago by SK
Never has a book had such a calming hopeful effect. I bought three for my family and read it every week. This book speaks to me. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Scott A. Krueger
I wish someone had mentioned this to me at my commencements, tho I probably wouldn't have listened, being as full of myself as most young people. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Minette