David Foster Wallace – the author of Infinite Jest, The Pale King, and Consider the Lobster- was not known as a dispenser of advice but in 2005 when he gave the commencement address (a speech that is most often associated with giving recent grads one last dose of advice) at Kenyon College entitled This is Water, he nailed it.
Standing in front of an audience of 22-year olds and their proud families, Wallace didn’t tell the graduates to follow their passion or dreams; instead he told the audience how important it is to live a compassionate life where we consider the people around us instead of ourselves. The words make the pursuit of happiness seem so easy (just be considerate!) but when you really think about the daily processes that define our lives, it’s not so simple because we’re not hard-wired to think of anyone but ourselves most of the time. Read more
Jonathan Franzen, author and “Great American Novelist” (as declared by Time Magazine on its August 23, 2010 cover) has published a collection of 21 essays that fall generally into one of three broad categories: Perspectives on Life and the World, Thoughts on Writing, or Underappreciated Authors and Great Books. “Farther Away” offers both serious and humorous narratives that stand on their own but collectively provide a broad overview of the issues, authors and books that are important to Franzen as a writer and a human being. Read more