cover image Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier

Excellent Advice for Living: Wisdom I Wish I’d Known Earlier

Kevin Kelly. Viking, $25.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-593-65452-1

In this insightful entry, Kelly (The Inevitable), a founding editor of Wired, collects pearls of wisdom for all stages of life. When he turned 68, the author began what would become a birthday tradition: compiling bits of advice for his adult children, eventually coming up with the 450 snippets collected here that touch on finances, parenting, relationships, self-awareness (“A great way to understand yourself is to seriously reflect on everything you find irritating in others”) and patience (“Become just a teeny bit better than you were last year. Repeat every year”). Some sayings are easily committed to memory (“Speak confidently as if you are right, but listen carefully as if you are wrong”) while others invite further contemplation (“We are not a body that carries a soul. We are a soul that is assigned a body”). The author doesn’t cite specific sources, acknowledging that he’s paraphrasing, and doubts any of the advice “is truly original.” Despite a tendency toward the moralizing (“It doesn’t matter how many people don’t appreciate you or your work. The only thing that counts is how many do”), the entries are genuinely thought-provoking, and Kelly’s earnestness is leavened with refreshing humor (“Be nice to your children because they are going to choose your nursing home”). The result is an unapologetically upbeat offering. (May)