Get Your Free Audiobook

Non-member price: $23.16

After 30 days, Audible is $16.45/mo. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

Joining the ranks of Tina Seelig's What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20, Clayton Christensen's How Will You Measure Your Life, Mary Karr's Now Go out There, and George Saunders' Congratulations, by the Way is an insightful guide that reveals the secret to pursuing a rich, fulfilling life: the art of asking (and answering) good questions.

In his commencement address to the graduating class of 2016, James E. Ryan, dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, offered remarkable advice to the crowd of hopeful men and women eager to make their marks on the world. The key to achieving emotional connections and social progress, he told them, can be found in five essential questions:

  • Wait, what?
  • I wonder if...
  • Couldn't we at least?
  • How can I help?
  • What truly matters?

"Wait, what?" is at the root of all understanding. "I wonder if..." is at the heart of all curiosity. "Couldn't we at least?" is the beginning of all progress. "How can I help?" is the basis of all good relationships. And "what truly matters?" gets you to the heart of life. By regularly asking these questions, Ryan promises, you will be prepared to enthusiastically answer yes to one final - and, ultimately, most important - question: "And did you get what you wanted out of life, even so?"

In this thoughtful, illuminating book, Ryan builds upon his wildly popular and universally praised address, which has been viewed more than four million times online. Wait, What? offers further insights into the art of asking good questions, highlighted by hilarious and surprising anecdotes from Ryan's personal and professional lives as well as stories from politics, popular culture, and social movements throughout history.

Engaging and inspiring, Wait, What? will change the way you look at yourself and the world and, in the process, help you get what you want most out of life.

©2017 James E. Ryan (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Wait, What?

Average Customer Ratings

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Larissa
  • Larissa
  • 18-05-2018

Not enough meat of material.

Struggled to finish. Lots of personal stories that didn't feel like they contributed much to the main points. Felt drawn out and fluffy.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for J Littlejohn
  • J Littlejohn
  • 23-06-2018

This Author and Book Rambles On and On and On ...

This author, vocally, and the information provided by the author, sounds like an annoying, perky teen, and by his own admission is just an expansion of a graduation speech; this audiobook "expansion" of that graduation speech, just rambles on and on and on, about his many, personal experiences growing up, etc., etc., including a law school dance that was an awkward prom-like experience, and then again, on and on and on, and 25 minutes into Chapter 2 ( not . . . in Chapter 1, but . . . in Chapter 2! ), he first mentions the first 1 of the promised 5 questions by explaining how "Wait, What?" popped up during the coming birth of his wife's first child in the hospital, but then goes on and on and on again . . . about other things that he has experienced. Ironically, I was wondering whether to continue to plod through all of this all over the place audiobook, in hopes of obtaining some true gems of info, or, return this book . . . when I thought about the title, "Wait, What?" and asked myself - If I wait and continue, do I believe I will get any true value or any new insights by continuing? Answer: I am returning this audiobook immediately.

20 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Gillian
  • Gillian
  • 18-05-2018

Great For Our Jobs, Our Families, Our Lives!

I was really surprised how broad the scope of Wait, What? was. It is, after all, quite simply, the expansion of a graduation speech. (Hmmm... maybe that should've told me about how much ground it had to cover?)
In a humorous and enlightening fashion, Ryan covers the five top questions we need to ask ourselves and others whilst traversing this uneven terrain we call Life.
Questions such as: Wait, what? (Clarification); I wonder (Curiosity); Couldn't we at least? (A way to get started, to find progress); How can I help? (Recognizing that others are experts in their own lives); and down to the nitty gritty: What truly matters? (Absolutely indispensable when dealing with colleagues, friends, close loved ones).
Plus there's a Bonus Question with a touching story behind it.
But there are many touching stories here, many truly funny moments too.
Filled with anecdotes and examples galore that'll stick with you for years to come, Wait, What? is essential, especially as it clocks in at under 3 hours. You'll have time to listen to it, time to absorb it; and it's not so odiously long that you can't come back to it again and again should you need the boost.
The only thing worse than a waste of money is a waste of time. This book is, quite happily, neither!

71 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jennifer Fergusson
  • Jennifer Fergusson
  • 29-11-2017

Well-written and fully engaging

Well worth your time and attention ... Truly moving and potentially life-changing. An excellent book.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Bookworm O'Nerd
  • Bookworm O'Nerd
  • 20-05-2018

Hmm..

I confess I only bought this audio-book because it was on sale for $0.99. I found the author's narration quite soporific, though it's a relatively short audio-book. I feel the questions that the author terms as "life's .... essential questions" more of a banal description on "how to use your common sense", interspersed with author's personal experiences. This is not a book that I would venture into for a second read/listen, and perhaps would hesitate (a lot) to recommend to anyone!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Silvon
  • Silvon
  • 03-01-2018

Life's essential questions.

Simple and beautiful. Most of us go through life seeking answers to life. What this book has illustrated was that the answers to life lies in the questions that are asked.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for oscar goss
  • oscar goss
  • 17-05-2017

wonderful book!

Loved it! Great mix of humor and sobering life lessons. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to explore the power of questions.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for J. Beecher
  • J. Beecher
  • 18-05-2018

Awful. It's a graduation speech turned into a book

Here's a question: How can you regret spending only 99 cents on a book? A: By buying this book. I wish the description had been honest: it's a graduation speech turned into a book -- a blatant cash grab by the publisher. Awful, awful, awful. This is just crappy product of the self-help type that is churned out by publishers when someone's little graduation speech goes "viral." I'd rather have had a cup of coffee from McDonald's for my 99 cents. At least the coffee wouldn't have wasted my time.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kyle Johnson
  • Kyle Johnson
  • 23-05-2019

The title isn't an exaggeration

Wait, what? (clarification. Don't assume, try to understand)

I wonder why/if? (understanding. There's a story behind everything, often one worth hearing. Every adventure begins with "I wonder if")

Can't we at least? (don't give up. There's always something you can do or common ground to find)

How can I help? (you can help, but you probably don't know the best way. Be humble)

What truly matters? (Are your actions serving your goals, or distracting from them?)


Did you get what you wanted from life, even so? (And if not, what are you missing?)


Not an exhaustive list of essential questions, as the author admits, but indispensable for a full life nonetheless. Definitely worth a few dollars to be reminded of these questions.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kristin K Carpenter
  • Kristin K Carpenter
  • 16-04-2019

Brilliant ideas for moments in need of compassion.

My friends grandparents are getting divorced after 40 years of marriage. The grandchildren thought they needed to choose sides. This book provides a thoughtful guide to compassionate navigation.

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mr. Ben D. Bailey
  • Mr. Ben D. Bailey
  • 22-10-2017

Great book

wait what is a book everyone should listen to or read. one that truly matters.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kwesi R.
  • Kwesi R.
  • 28-05-2017

One to keep coming back to

The author was very easy to listen to and his stories quite compelling. The questions had a lot to them as well. Being a short book in sure I'll be returning to this one to help unpack the material more.
Worth it.

In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible Australia acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.