10 Incredible Bits Of Advice From Famous Writers' Commencement Speeches

05/15/2015 08:51 am ET
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"You get to decide what has meaning and what doesn't," David Foster Wallace wrote in a rare moment of candor. Though the advice might seem out of place in one of his winding, playfully cerebral novels, it fit right in as the thrust of his commencement speech at Kenyon College, which was later adapted into a short, beloved book, This Is Water.

Though end-of-the-year well-wishes can easily recede into clichés, writers tend to offer eloquent, less-hackneyed advice for new graduates. Take, for instance, Ursula K. Le Guin's ballsy rejection of giving advice that promotes success through dominance: "Instead of talking about power," she said, "what if I talked like a woman right here in public?" A new book out this year pays homage to these salient bits of wisdom, packaging them prettily with fun fonts. The result is full of mystery and poetry -- two qualities Eileen Myles wished upon her listeners, a crowd full of recent grads.

Excerpted from Way More Than Luck, published by Chronicle Books, 2015:

  • Debbie Millman
  • Dick Costolo
  • Bradley Whitford
  • Michael Uslan
  • Tom Wolfe
  • Ira Glass
  • Eileen Myles
  • Jonathan Safran Foer
  • Khaled Hosseini
  • David Foster Wallace

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