Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness

Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERThree months after George Saunders gave a graduation address at Syracuse University, a transcript of that speech was posted on the website of The New York Times, where its simple, uplifting message struck a deep chord. Within days, it had been shared more than one million times. Why? Because Saunders’s words tap into a desire in all of us to lead k...

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Title:Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness
Author:George Saunders
Rating:
ISBN:0812996275
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:64 pages

Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness Reviews

  • Trish
    Nov 04, 2016

    This book is

    George Saunders gave to the 2013 graduating class at Syracuse University.

    George Saunders is the kind of old white guy that we

    to give us life advice. He doesn't have many answers, and I argue this makes his advice even more valuable. He has only a few good hints, gleaned after a lifetime of rough and tumble. His dedication at the beginning of the book mentions his grandparents,

    . In the course of the speech he tells us that when we become

    This book is

    George Saunders gave to the 2013 graduating class at Syracuse University.

    George Saunders is the kind of old white guy that we

    to give us life advice. He doesn't have many answers, and I argue this makes his advice even more valuable. He has only a few good hints, gleaned after a lifetime of rough and tumble. His dedication at the beginning of the book mentions his grandparents,

    . In the course of the speech he tells us that when we become parents we know what sacrifice is and what it takes to love another. He hopes that we apply those lessons as the educated adults that we are, and maybe not wait until we get there, as parents. To know it, and to act on it. Now.

    Convocation speeches are not just for graduates, ever. They are for those who aspire, for those who hope one day to graduate to better life management, to a happier, more fulfilling existence, for those who still need advice. That probably includes all of us. Even George Saunders.

    George Saunders is my kind of guru. He is funny, articulate, self-deprecating, smart, and unassuming. He doesn't pretend to be something he is not. He is a fiction writer who is flummoxed by humans, and yet is someone who has figured out a few things in his life.

    In this speech Saunders paradoxically brings up death. Just to remind us that this moment--it is just a moment. That a life is justifiably filled with plans, hopes, dreams, striving, and that this is good, necessary, and normal. But there is something we don't want to forget as we make our plans because it puts everything in order, and perspective, and that is death. We are not alone and striving in the world, but we live with others. We will have lots of opportunities in our long lives to choose to be kind or not. He recommends "to err in the direction of kindness." Because nothing else matters, in the end.

    Every time I read this speech I cry in the exact same place. I wonder if you will, too. I cry when he says how proud our parents are on this day of our graduation, I cry because I know how much my parents did to get me to that place. How much they gave up, how much they loved, how much they hoped. I cry because I know what the parents feel looking at their kids graduating. How proud, yes, relieved, hopeful, etc.

    Anyway, this book is about going after things that matter, like kindness. Because in the end...and in the beginning, and in the middle...that's all that matters.

  • Tara
    May 16, 2014

    Glad I got out of the library. It's a pretty little book, but $14? I think of all the wonderful literature out there one can buy for the same price. Look this up on the internet and read in ten minutes. A nice sentiment to preach to graduates to be kind, but nothing remarkable in the language or insights or advice.

  • Dianne
    Jun 05, 2014

    Very slender volume - I read it in 10 minutes - that packs a whole lot of punch. This is the convocation address George Saunders delivered at Syracuse University in May 2013. You can watch it on YouTube (12 minutes), but I think it is much better quietly read and pondered than said.

    The central message is very simple - try to be kinder - but the sentiment is delivered so eloquently and memorably that it is something I will carry with me and mull over from time to time. An instant classic, much li

    Very slender volume - I read it in 10 minutes - that packs a whole lot of punch. This is the convocation address George Saunders delivered at Syracuse University in May 2013. You can watch it on YouTube (12 minutes), but I think it is much better quietly read and pondered than said.

    The central message is very simple - try to be kinder - but the sentiment is delivered so eloquently and memorably that it is something I will carry with me and mull over from time to time. An instant classic, much like Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford address, and applicable to everyone.

    This book would be a great gift for a grad (along with that check, of course!). Highly recommend.

  • Cathy DuPont
    Oct 13, 2014

    Stopped by the library to take something back, and always, always leave with something. For shame. If I read one book a day, I have enough books to read for a year but here I am taking books home to read.

    Anyway, this is a feel good book and in movie form, "Pay it Forward."

    Recently I read something about Saunders giving this address on kindness to a graduating college class. I did not go looking for the book but when I read the cover and back, I knew it was

    book.

    Thanks to my mother, I'm a

    Stopped by the library to take something back, and always, always leave with something. For shame. If I read one book a day, I have enough books to read for a year but here I am taking books home to read.

    Anyway, this is a feel good book and in movie form, "Pay it Forward."

    Recently I read something about Saunders giving this address on kindness to a graduating college class. I did not go looking for the book but when I read the cover and back, I knew it was

    book.

    Thanks to my mother, I'm a sap for books such as this. Not so much spiritual but books that make us

    to be a better person in all ways.

    George Saunders says that kindness is what stays with us and brings rewards to us throughout our life. Rewards that are intangible but are recalled throughout our life with the "warm and fuzzies" that you (and I) did the right thing through kindness to others.

    The students who heard this, I'm sure, were absolutely blown away by George Saunders and what he had to say that spring day. It is not your typical commencement address and I'm sure he made quite an impression on the 20-24 year olds.

    The bottom line, be kind. And not only to animals, people.

  • Jason
    Jan 01, 2015

    "As you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE."

    This was the perfect book to read on January 1st.

    This commencement speech by George Saunders is about the importance of being kind, which is something I am aware of, I know other people do it, but it's not something I exercise often in my life. Yes, I am kind to my loved ones and my dear friends, and I am polite and courteous to people I encounter, but I don't feel like I am kind. Instea

    "As you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE."

    This was the perfect book to read on January 1st.

    This commencement speech by George Saunders is about the importance of being kind, which is something I am aware of, I know other people do it, but it's not something I exercise often in my life. Yes, I am kind to my loved ones and my dear friends, and I am polite and courteous to people I encounter, but I don't feel like I am kind. Instead, I react to life in the same way Saunders describes his reactions to an elementary classmate being bullied: "sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly." But I don't think I respond kindly.

    I know that this comes from anxiety of being perceived as weak, fear of being detected for having emotions (SOUND THE ALARM), terror of being vulnerable with others. But it's been on my mind lately, and this short lecture solidified it for me: there is nothing harmful about being kind and vulnerable.

    I'm going to try to remember that this year.

  • Melki
    May 03, 2016

    My oldest son will graduate from college on Saturday. I'll sit and watch and try not to cry. The kid who once ate the dog food the dog didn't want will have a degree in philosophy. What he will do with that degree is anyone's guess. I like to joke that his job will involve knowing the difference between a Grande and a Venti, but who knows? As his adviser swears, my son can write and he can think, and that puts him ah

    My oldest son will graduate from college on Saturday. I'll sit and watch and try not to cry. The kid who once ate the dog food the dog didn't want will have a degree in philosophy. What he will do with that degree is anyone's guess. I like to joke that his job will involve knowing the difference between a Grande and a Venti, but who knows? As his adviser swears, my son can write and he can think, and that puts him ahead of many job seekers out there.

    This tiny book contains the transcript of a speech Saunders delivered to the graduating class of Syracuse University in 2013. It is sweet and funny and urges kindness above all else. Vonnegut was also a great proponent of being kind, so there might just be something to the concept. With several months left in this never ending Presidential election, I can think of no better advice . . . for graduates, their parents, politicians, and voters.

    *Pssst! If you want this as a gift, by all means, buy the book. Otherwise, read the

    article here -

  • Karl
    Aug 17, 2016

    This copy is signed by George Saunders.

    This is a slightly expanded version of a commencement speech given by the author at Syracuse University May 11. 2013.

  • Lizzy
    Nov 06, 2016

    I thank my friend Trish for pointing out

    '

    to me. I loved it and I am relieved I still have time to be kinder hoping that later on I will feel less regret.

    For Saunders can teach us a lesson that we should not forget, "What I regret most in my life are

    Yes, let's follow his advice:

    I thank my friend Trish for pointing out

    '

    to me. I loved it and I am relieved I still have time to be kinder hoping that later on I will feel less regret.

    For Saunders can teach us a lesson that we should not forget, "What I regret most in my life are

    Yes, let's follow his advice:

  • Terri
    Feb 09, 2017

    Only twenty pages, but George Saunders makes the most of his speech, to the Syracuse University graduating class 0f 2013. He speaks of his own life and his mistakes as a adult. But mostly the speech is about kindness. Given the horrendous climate of unkindness, that has taken the U.S. by storm, I was really eager and needed to read this. It made me feel better and that's something in this day and age.

  • David Schaafsma
    Feb 26, 2017

    Here’s the simple 2013 Syracuse University commencement speech, which I had read before, online, and now reread in hardcover. Why? Because I wake up every day and I go to sleep these days looking at social media and newspaper articles and see that his simple message is sorely needed:

    "What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.”

    Here is Trish’s sweet review:

    Since I am a teacher, I go to graduations every year and always cry at that same place, to

    Here’s the simple 2013 Syracuse University commencement speech, which I had read before, online, and now reread in hardcover. Why? Because I wake up every day and I go to sleep these days looking at social media and newspaper articles and see that his simple message is sorely needed:

    "What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.”

    Here is Trish’s sweet review:

    Since I am a teacher, I go to graduations every year and always cry at that same place, too, when the parents are thanked, and always remember when my little (hey, they were more than a half foot shorter than me!) mom and dad stood up for me at my doctoral graduation at Michigan, and I suddenly sobbed to see them there. They’d never graduated from high school, and they supported me in every thing I did, even when I was unlovable and falling apart. I had been cynical about going to graduations, just as I had been for funerals. Empty gestures, I thought. Hallmark social occasions. But I was wrong. These occasions are important human functions, gestures, reminders of principles that have to be more than platitudes. Reminders of what it means to be human. My parents, standing there, were among the kindest people I have ever met, they’d do anything for anyone, and they taught me to do the same.

    So this is easy, right, to be nice to people, not mean. Be caring, loving, become love ever more each day?

    "Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness."

    It's not the most profound or best piece of writing, it's doesn't tell you much more than this, but it's good to spend ten minutes reading once in a while. I love Saunders's sweet kind voice caressing you through it.