The Greatest Life Advice from Kurt Vonnegut

Today would have been the great Kurt Vonnegut’s 90th birthday. The author, much beloved for his black humor, satirical bent, and frank take on the universe, has continued to influence and inspire writers and other humans since his death in 2007, and we figure will keep doing so for quite a while yet. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of the man’s greatest life advice — from the pithy to the complex, from the goofy to the plainly serious. In addition, we’d like to take this opportunity to point out two excellent new books that have been released recently: Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, a fat and elucidating volume of the author’s correspondence, and We Are What We Pretend To Be, which pairs Vonnegut’s first and last writings with commentary by his daughter, a definite must for any fan. After the jump, bask in some essential life advice from one of our most celebrated authors — and if we missed your favorite missive, be sure to add it to our list in the comments. Happy birthday, Mr. Vonnegut. So it goes.

“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'” — “Knowing What’s Nice,” an essay from In These Times, 2003

“What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” — “Thoughts of a Free Thinker” commencement address, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, 1974