This slim volume includes nine speeches, most college commencement addresses, given by the writer Kurt Vonnegut. The speeches are often quite funny and, while despairing of much about humans--from believing that computers and television do anything to advance culture to the lack of puberty rituals in so-called developed cultures--are also at heart optimistic. After all, the book is titled in a nod to Vonnegut's uncle who was known, in the midst of a family gathering or other mundane activity, to stop, look around, and say "If this isn't nice, what is?" Vonnegut recommends the practice to the graduates hearing his speeches--and I believe he may be on to something. The speeches aren't earthshaking in their insights, but they are a pleasant read, especially while on a bus riding from Rockford, IL, to Midway Airport.
Don’t give up on books. They feel so good—their friendly heft. The sweet reluctance of their pages when you turn them with your sensitive fingertips. A large part of our brains is devoted to deciding what our hands are touching, is good or bad for us. Any brain worth a nickel knows books are good for us.
In time, this will prove to have been the destiny of most, but not all of you. You will find yourselves building or strengthening your communities. Please love that destiny, if it turns out to be yours--for communities are all that's substantial about the world. All the rest is hoop-la.