The Opposite of Loneliness

Essays and Stories

The Opposite of Loneliness

Introduction by: Anne Fadiman
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The instant New York Times bestseller and publishing phenomenon: Marina Keegan’s posthumous collection of award-winning essays and stories “sparkles with talent, humanity, and youth” (O, The Oprah Magazine).

Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at The New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.

Marina left behind a rich, deeply expansive trove of writing that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. Her short story “Cold Pastoral” was published on Her essay “Even Artichokes Have Doubts” was excerpted in the Financial Times, and her book was the focus of a Nicholas Kristof column in The New York Times. Millions of her contemporaries have responded to her work on social media.

As Marina wrote: “We can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over…We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.” The Opposite of Loneliness is an unforgettable collection of Marina’s essays and stories that articulates the universal struggle all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to impact the world. “How do you mourn the loss of a fiery talent that was barely a tendril before it was snuffed out? Answer: Read this book. A clear-eyed observer of human nature, Keegan could take a clever idea...and make it something beautiful” (People).
  • Scribner | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476753911 | 
  • April 2015
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Reading Group Guide


The following questions are intended for a variety of audiences—the members of a book group, students in a college seminar or upper-level high school class, or individual readers taking time for further reflection. Some questions address the larger motivations behind Marina Keegan’s work; some examine technical, structural, or thematic elements within her prose; some consider her legacy as an activist pushing her readers to take action; some focus on the young woman now so dearly missed. Of course, all of these questions serve only as starting points. The best discussions will occur as you take these prompts in the directions that most fascinate, puzzle, or inspire you.


Questions & Topics for Discussion

1. Marina Keegan wrote the essay “The Opposite of Loneliness” specifically for her Yale graduation in 2012, and the single line “The hats” refers to the college’s Class Day tradition of seniors wearing creative, colorful hats. Yet many readers have found its message to be universal, evoking their own days at college, at camp, or in any other tight-knit community. What makes Keegan’s words apply to any group of people who have found a powerful sense of connection? What would you define as your own personal opposite of loneliness?

2. In “The Opposite of Loneliness,” Keegan insists, “What we have to remember is that we can still do a see more

Articles About This Book

About the Author

Marina Keegan
Photograph by TK

Marina Keegan

Marina Keegan (1989-2012) was an award-winning author, journalist, playwright, poet, actress, and activist. Her nonfiction has been published in The New York Times; her fiction has been published on, and read on NPR’s Selected Shorts; her musical, Independents, was a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Marina’s final essay for The Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” became an instant global sensation, viewed by more than 1.4 million people from 98 countries. For more information, please visit