What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question Info

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“Brimming with stories of sacrifice, courage,
commitment and, sometimes, failure, the book will support anyone
pondering a major life choice or risk without force-feeding them pat
solutions.”—Publishers
Weekly

In What Should I Do with My Life? Po
Bronson tells the inspirational true stories of people who have found
the most meaningful answers to that great question. With humor, empathy,
and insight, Bronson writes of remarkable individuals—from young
to old, from those just starting out to those in a second
career—who have overcome fear and confusion to find a larger truth
about their lives and, in doing so, have been transformed by the
experience. 
What Should I Do with My
Life?
 struck a powerful, resonant chord on publication, causing
a multitude of people to rethink their vocations and priorities and
start on the path to finding their true place in the world. For this
edition, Bronson has added nine new profiles, to further reflect the
range and diversity of those who broke away from the chorus to learn the
sound of their own voice.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question:

5

Feb 26, 2009

Po Bronson's What Should I Do With My Life? speaks to the almost universal dream of finding one's true, life-affirming passion. An inspirational book that has the power to change lives- and happens to have a really bad title. Make no mistake- this is not a self help book, in the conventional sense.

This book does not offer 12 steps for finding your one true way. It doesn't purport to have empirical answers to all of the existential dilemmas in your life. You won't find any easy-bake recipes Po Bronson's What Should I Do With My Life? speaks to the almost universal dream of finding one's true, life-affirming passion. An inspirational book that has the power to change lives- and happens to have a really bad title. Make no mistake- this is not a self help book, in the conventional sense.

This book does not offer 12 steps for finding your one true way. It doesn't purport to have empirical answers to all of the existential dilemmas in your life. You won't find any easy-bake recipes guaranteeing self-actualization or happiness- Po Bronson pulls no punches and makes no pretense in that regard.

Instead, this is a collection of vignettes about average normal people from all sorts of walks of life in search of a happier, more meaningful existence. The tough-love moral of all of the stories in this book is that the road to a passion-filled life is not clearly defined, and more often than not it isn't a road at all - more like a faintly defined path obscured on all sides by tall weeds.

Since the author does not purport to answer the question "What Should I Do With My Life?" definitively, he does the next best thing - he offers up dozens of stories about how other people came to answer this question for themselves, in the hope that other peoples experiences might be instructive to the rest of us.

This is an incredibly honest, unvarnished, empathetic book, highly recommended for anyone that has a nagging suspicion that there might be something more meaningful to life than the endless pursuit of those perennial touchstones of the American Dream- class, status, and prestige, along with the shiny material baubles (big houses, German cars, trophy spouses, insert your aspirational obscur objet du désir here) that accompany them. Or, said another way. in the lyrics of 70's honky-tonk musician Tom T Hall: "faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, and more money" (Couldn't have said it better myself).

The first time I came across this book I made the age-old mistake of judging it by it's cover- at first glance the title sounded... shallow, petulant, whiny even. At the time I happened to be a reliable authority on pretty much everything there was to know about everything. One of the recurring ironies of my life is that the older I get, the more I realize I don't know. Some years later I found myself buying my own copy. It didn't take me very long to realize that the Author doesn't have any "magic beans" for sale.

About 1/2 way through this book I realized it actually has the perfect title. In fact I can't imagine calling it anything else. What Should I Do With My Life? succinctly sums up the essence of what this book is all about - The frustrating, hair-raising fact of the matter is that there is no definitive "right" answer to the question... This book provides a noble public service- it's single raison d'etre is to help people of all ages and from all sorts of life experiences come closer to answering that most universal question on their own terms, using the best possible method- sharing the stories of others who have asked the same question, listened carefully for their own answers, and found the courage to take the leap of faith that so very often is mandatory on the faint and weedy path towards a happier life. ...more
2

Dec 28, 2007

So what kind of peyote are you guys smoking? This book escaped the infamous 1-star rating simply by virtue of Bronson's use of real life stories that helped me escape from his own incredibly annoying narration. Was it the truisms he loved to repeat? The lack of helpful guidance? (Be yourself). His incessant need to come off like a soft-spoken preacher who secretly wishes you'll all wind up homeless on the streets of Detroit begging for his next edition? Yuck.
5

Oct 30, 2011

Real People. Real Stories.
Ordinary People, extraordinary stories.
People just like you and me.

Nothing helps like knowing you're not alone.

A little of what the stories in this book will remind you:

A calling is not something you know, it is something you grow into through trials and mistakes.

It won't be easy, it wont be quick. Finding what we believe in and what we can do about it is one of life's great dramas. It can be an endless process of discovery, one to be appreciated and respected for Real People. Real Stories.
Ordinary People, extraordinary stories.
People just like you and me.

Nothing helps like knowing you're not alone.

A little of what the stories in this book will remind you:

A calling is not something you know, it is something you grow into through trials and mistakes.

It won't be easy, it wont be quick. Finding what we believe in and what we can do about it is one of life's great dramas. It can be an endless process of discovery, one to be appreciated and respected for its difficulty. Don't cheat. Treat this as the one true life you get.

Individuals thrive if they focus on the question of who they really are, and from that find work they truly love, and in so doing unleash a productive and creative power they never imagined.

Usually, all we get in a glimmer. A story we read or someone we briefly met. A curiosity. A meek voice inside, whispering, It's up to us to hammer out the rest. The rewards of perusing it are only for those who are willing to listen attentively, only those who really care. It's not for everyone.

You don't find your purpose above the neck, you find it below the neck, when you're transformed by what you've witnessed.

Seek, adjust. Seek, learn.

Look backward as much as forward, inward as much as outward.

Bring what you do in alignment with who you are.

Attack your fears rather than shy away from them.

If we are the victim of an injustice, it is up to us to find a meaningful way to channel our anger. If we suffer a terrible crisis, only we can transform this suffering into a launching pad for a new life. These are turning points from which we get to construct our own story, if we choose to do so.

Freedom is the confidence that you can live within the means of something you're passionate about.

Create an environment where truth is invited into your life.

If you develop character, the odds are pretty good you can succeed. Success is defined as when you're no longer held back by your heart, and your character blossoms, and the gifts you have to offer the world are apparent.

Don't cling to a single scenario, allow yourself many paths to the same destination.

If you want to change the world, be open to letting the world change you.

You can get good at what you need to to serve what you believe in.

Business is a tool to support what you believe in.

Keep in mind even what you can't define.

It is never too late to start over.



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1

Mar 01, 2013

Only read a couple chapters of this book but it was enough to make me want to put it down and stop reading (which I rarely do). What really blew me away was the extent to which his narrative and commentary overrides the stories he claims to be presenting.

In Chapter two, he tells a story of a woman who chooses to remain unemployed in the hopes of holding out for her dream career. He discusses his frustration with this conversation, pointing out his "male need to fix things and the female need to Only read a couple chapters of this book but it was enough to make me want to put it down and stop reading (which I rarely do). What really blew me away was the extent to which his narrative and commentary overrides the stories he claims to be presenting.

In Chapter two, he tells a story of a woman who chooses to remain unemployed in the hopes of holding out for her dream career. He discusses his frustration with this conversation, pointing out his "male need to fix things and the female need to listen" (I'm paraphrasing), which was a huge turnoff (sex stereotypes, much?). Then, he proceeds to explain how he thinks the woman is making a mistake by not accepting a job offered to her, and how (according to his pseudo-psychological assessment) the reason she's not taking it is because it would involve delving into the trauma of the past.

What the f***? Is Po a psychologist? No. Is he a sociologist? No. He has a BA in economics and a MFA in Creative Writing (not that you can tell).

Sorry, Po. Let the subjects speak for themselves. We'll learn much more from them than we will from your wanna-be analyses. Yuck. ...more
2

Jan 07, 2009

This was very disappointing overall. This should have been interesting, given the premise and how extensively the author sought out people with interesting stories about their work lives (he set up a website and heavily marketed it, and even became sort of a job counselor and marriage counselor and life counselor to all kinds of people in the process of meeting these people and compiling these stories--many of the people he interviewed initially got in touch with him to seek his guidance and This was very disappointing overall. This should have been interesting, given the premise and how extensively the author sought out people with interesting stories about their work lives (he set up a website and heavily marketed it, and even became sort of a job counselor and marriage counselor and life counselor to all kinds of people in the process of meeting these people and compiling these stories--many of the people he interviewed initially got in touch with him to seek his guidance and counseling, apparently, and as you'll see if you read this, he offers lots of counseling to almost everyone he interviews. That was probably the most annoying aspect of this book: all of the author's silly interjections of his own thoughts and his own confusion about what life is all about, etc., not to mention the quoted dialogues that he had with these subjects (or clients, as the case sometimes was). The author doesn't seem to know how tell a life story without interjecting his own life story into it, which I found very annoying.

There are 57 miniature biographies in here, and although a few of them were interesting all the way through, most started out promising and then quickly sank into a morass of the author's feelings about the subject and other kinds of digressions from the story. In most of these stories, it was a chore trying to sift through all the verbiage to extract the interesting part: the subject's own story (which very often *was* an interesting story and could have been very compelling reading if told by a better biographer).

I've never read anything else by this guy (unless I've read magazine articles by him, which is very likely, I guess), but he doesn't seem like a good writer at all. At least not a good biographer. Maybe he's a good fiction writer--I'll certainly check out one of his novels now out of curiosity. He's also apparently a very savvy marketer and book trade expert. I don't know if that has anything to do with the huge commercial success of this book, and all the time it spent on various bestseller lists, etc., but that points out something I like about goodreads--the rating of this book on goodreads is in the low 3-star range if I'm remembering correctly. Hardly a blockbuster among goodreads readers.

Here are the stories that I did like:

--The lottery winner (about a Yale graduate who became a teacher in an entrepreneurial inner-city school, and the best story in the book as far as I was concerned)
--A billion is chump change (the author's own story of how he quit bond sales to become a writer)
--A fragile blow (about a guy who quits a Ph.D. program in English while paralyzed with grief over his brother's suicide and becomes a cook)
--A college man
--Getting oily, then even
--The magical thing
--The lockbox fantasy
--My new start-up
--The mechanic gives 100 percent
--Contribution X

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3

Sep 12, 2008

in my current state of unemployment - i thought this book would offer some fresh perspectives. it revealed that most people are as clueless as i am about what to devote one's life to. however, it does offer interesting stories and several "truths"...one of which is that a winding path towards one's ultimate goal is not necessarily a bad thing. po bronson unravels his own path to becoming a writer in with the anecdotal chapters. most of the stories were based out of the bay area (where bronson in my current state of unemployment - i thought this book would offer some fresh perspectives. it revealed that most people are as clueless as i am about what to devote one's life to. however, it does offer interesting stories and several "truths"...one of which is that a winding path towards one's ultimate goal is not necessarily a bad thing. po bronson unravels his own path to becoming a writer in with the anecdotal chapters. most of the stories were based out of the bay area (where bronson lives). overall i recommend, but not strongly. ...more
2

Aug 02, 2010

The good thing about this book is its sustained focus on an extremely important topic. The bad thing about this book is nearly everything else. Po Bronson writes in a clunky, Journalism 101 style, with wooden introductions of his subjects fumbled into the text. He digresses often, judges his subjects too harshly for my tastes, and generally spends more time holding forth on his own ideas than he does relaying the opinions and experiences of the people he interviews. Once or twice, while I read The good thing about this book is its sustained focus on an extremely important topic. The bad thing about this book is nearly everything else. Po Bronson writes in a clunky, Journalism 101 style, with wooden introductions of his subjects fumbled into the text. He digresses often, judges his subjects too harshly for my tastes, and generally spends more time holding forth on his own ideas than he does relaying the opinions and experiences of the people he interviews. Once or twice, while I read this book, I actually said out loud: "Shut the fuck up, Po! Let me hear what your subject has to say." The few chapters in which he really lets his subject speak, or really focuses on their experiences, occur when he seems awed by the interviewee. Which brings up another qualm I had: Po comes across as a closet yuppie, most often impressed by people who make obscene amounts of money or approach work with an MBA mindset. It's ironic because our societies worship-the-dollar mentality and relentless prestige-focuses careerism seem to be two of the factors contributing most to our general dissatisfaction with life. Even so, if you dedicate 300 pages to an meaningful topic, and include accounts from dozens of people (though a great many of those accounts felt frustratingly abbreviated), you can't help but turn up the occasional rewarding nugget. There are a few of those in this book, to be sure, but I don't really think it's worth the digging. ...more
5

Apr 02, 2008

I remember the first time I saw a book titled "What Should I Do With My Life?" in a store and thought to myself, "What kind of ass thinks he can answer that question in a book?" Based on that cover-based judgment, I left it on the shelf, and didn't give it another thought until, months later, a friend recommended it to me.

I love this book because it is an honest book. Po Bronson interviews hundreds of people and tells you a handful of compelling stories and does not try to fit it all into a I remember the first time I saw a book titled "What Should I Do With My Life?" in a store and thought to myself, "What kind of ass thinks he can answer that question in a book?" Based on that cover-based judgment, I left it on the shelf, and didn't give it another thought until, months later, a friend recommended it to me.

I love this book because it is an honest book. Po Bronson interviews hundreds of people and tells you a handful of compelling stories and does not try to fit it all into a Single Unified Theory of Life. He points out the patterns that emerged but doesn't force anecdotes to become life lessons. On a topic where so many authors want to come up with a system to explain it all, Bronson simply gathers evidence and presents it. Because of that, the book contains real truth.

I recently re-read the book in February but first read it a few years ago. In that time I've probably loaned or given a copy of this book to a dozen people. I can't say that about any other book I've read. So... read it, already. ...more
1

Jul 11, 2007

Despite the enticing title - people tend to search for clues about what to do with their life - this book did put me off. No depth, simply a series of snapshot of people's life written rather dryly and bluntly.

It is like watching Oprah without the "ooohh, aaah..." :-)
5

Jul 21, 2017

I read this book at a very pivotal time in my life - a time when I've felt the desire to have this question answered more than any other time. The book doesn't attempt to answer the question, but it was inspiring and uplifting, and told the stories of people who have been in similar situations as I am (and much much different situations) and how they made changes, and what their outcomes were. Not all the stories were happy, or relatable, but they were all real. And they made me realize that I read this book at a very pivotal time in my life - a time when I've felt the desire to have this question answered more than any other time. The book doesn't attempt to answer the question, but it was inspiring and uplifting, and told the stories of people who have been in similar situations as I am (and much much different situations) and how they made changes, and what their outcomes were. Not all the stories were happy, or relatable, but they were all real. And they made me realize that doing something is better than doing nothing. Nothing is safe, and nothing is complacent, and nothing gets you nowhere. If you do something, you might fail, but then you can just something again. And again. And eventually maybe you'll get somewhere.
I learned some valuable lessons about making changes in your life, about how it's never too late to change your big picture, a goal is never too far out of reach if you really want it, and that change rarely happens overnight. I bookmarked probably 20 different pages of quotes from people across the globe that I connected to, and I have a feeling I'm going to be going back to this book more than once. ...more
3

Jul 17, 2012

I am just getting started but have a few thoughts. This book is comprised of a series of short nonfiction stories about people the author interviewed and how they went about answering this difficult question for themselves. I read another review that said, 'the people in this book are just as confused as I am.' that made me LOL, not unkindly, but what did you expect? Life does not have quick fixes. There is no secret answer that will suddenly clear everything up for you. So far the stories are I am just getting started but have a few thoughts. This book is comprised of a series of short nonfiction stories about people the author interviewed and how they went about answering this difficult question for themselves. I read another review that said, 'the people in this book are just as confused as I am.' that made me LOL, not unkindly, but what did you expect? Life does not have quick fixes. There is no secret answer that will suddenly clear everything up for you. So far the stories are interesting and compelling because it is the process of how different people answered the question for themselves that the author is conveying.
Right off the bat there is a story of a young doctor in her twenties who just walked away from her work, realizing she wasn't being true to herself. I really appreciate that. Life is one big gamble, we may well invest a lot of personal resources into something that doesn't pan out. The point is what we learned, what we took away from that experience. (7.23.12)


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3

Feb 03, 2010

I was really liking this book early on, the first half, but as I continued further the predominance of people in business and politics just didn't sit well with me. I also continually wondered how the people who didn't start in high dollar careers (i.e. didn't have a bankroll to start something knew) afforded to go back to school and get a new degree, or whatever it is they decided to do.
I'm ending (layoff) a job that has been a career and I have no desire to look for another job in this field, I was really liking this book early on, the first half, but as I continued further the predominance of people in business and politics just didn't sit well with me. I also continually wondered how the people who didn't start in high dollar careers (i.e. didn't have a bankroll to start something knew) afforded to go back to school and get a new degree, or whatever it is they decided to do.
I'm ending (layoff) a job that has been a career and I have no desire to look for another job in this field, and most of all I don't want to leave where I live. I am however a casualty of the economic downturn, invested in real estate and have only debt to show for it. To go back to school for 3,4,5 years to get a degree in a new field hardly seems an option. How on earth would I pay for that?
The book also focused primarily on folks in the author's generation, a bit younger than I am, that were making these changes in their mid-30's for the most part, some were older, some younger, but although I could relate to many of the components of many folk's stories, I didn't find 'my' answer here, I didn't find a story that addressed where I stand today.
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2

May 09, 2009

I gave up on this one roughly halfway through it, mostly because of its lack of direction. These people haven't answered the "ultimate" question of life; they simply either stumbled onto something they enjoy doing for a living after decades of soul-searching, or have ultimately become complacent.
Sure, there are those that absolutely LOVE where their path took them, but it offers no condolences to the rest of us. Am I supposed to wander through life until a mid-life crisis opens my eyes to I gave up on this one roughly halfway through it, mostly because of its lack of direction. These people haven't answered the "ultimate" question of life; they simply either stumbled onto something they enjoy doing for a living after decades of soul-searching, or have ultimately become complacent.
Sure, there are those that absolutely LOVE where their path took them, but it offers no condolences to the rest of us. Am I supposed to wander through life until a mid-life crisis opens my eyes to something I apparently missed? Do I follow my heart, even if it means certain defeat?
A quick search online showed how Bronson manipulates his stories for the sake of the book, (Lori Gottlieb was an accomplished writer, for instance, and not a lost soul) and seems completely self-indulgent.
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2

Mar 24, 2012

After finding this book on some tech blog's must read list I decided to give it a shot. I now find myself regretting this course of action. What Should I Do with My Life is full of short stories of a bunch of people that Mr. Po Bronson interviewed, and then proceeded to tell them how to fix their life or how much their decisions sucked. The interviews are much more a platform for Bronson to present his own thoughts and views on how life should be, and he disagrees very strongly with anyone that After finding this book on some tech blog's must read list I decided to give it a shot. I now find myself regretting this course of action. What Should I Do with My Life is full of short stories of a bunch of people that Mr. Po Bronson interviewed, and then proceeded to tell them how to fix their life or how much their decisions sucked. The interviews are much more a platform for Bronson to present his own thoughts and views on how life should be, and he disagrees very strongly with anyone that does not meet these viewpoints.

I could only stomach through chapter 15. There were a few interesting stories, but then you were torn out of them pretty jarringly when Bronson decides to interject his own thoughts, criticisms and ideas. He seems to approach things with a very Hollywood mentality, which could be expected given his career history. It is very much "be true to yourself." His ego is off the charts as well. At the end of chapter 15 he says, "Ultimately, I hoped that my presence was itself a form of recognition and acknowledgement that might boost her esteem." That was the point when I couldn't take it anymore and had to throw the book down. I would heartily recommend steering clear of this particular book. ...more
4

Jul 13, 2009

This book is actually a meaningful read in the end, but there are certainly some rough patches along the way. This being noted, I urge others to read on, as the early uneveness of the book gives way to far more consistently insightful passages in its second half. Simply put, some of the early stories are not particularly revealing (or, even more acutely put, do not evidence clearly why Bronson chose to include them), but by the end they are a tiny minority of many riveting, important narratives. This book is actually a meaningful read in the end, but there are certainly some rough patches along the way. This being noted, I urge others to read on, as the early uneveness of the book gives way to far more consistently insightful passages in its second half. Simply put, some of the early stories are not particularly revealing (or, even more acutely put, do not evidence clearly why Bronson chose to include them), but by the end they are a tiny minority of many riveting, important narratives. So, slog through the first half of the book and you will be rewarded richly by its conclusion.

The style of the book is to share vignettes about particular individuals (or, in a few cases, couples) who have effectively asked and answered what the author describes as the ultimate question (which is the title of the book). Along the way, we learn a good deal about what lead them to ask themselves the question in the first place, how they have gone about answering it and what the results have been. A parallel and similarly important narrative theme is the author's own journey, which he chronciles alongside the other subjects'. We also learn some other important things like that our expectation of experiencing a eureka moment when we discover our purpose is mistaken (it turns out that it's typically a far more faint feeling or realization), that the journey is usually long and hard (so keep looking), that you have to have the courage to find out who you really are and then live the life that this suggests (despite what trusted others and your circumstances or background may compel), etc. Not to spoil it for others, but this is not a tome with dozens of get-rich-quick secrets; in most scenarios, the protagonists actually walk away from the gilded life to find something much more meaningful (and usually less materially remunerative). In fact, the author is the poster boy for this trend (though he does, in the end, experience material abundance in additon to greater fulfillment by having the guts to pursue his passion - writing - professionally).

In summary, this is a very worthwhile read, as most of the vignettes feature protagonists whose stories are compelling, insightful and transferable. It will not likely give you an answer to its titular question, but it will point you in the right direction to discover your own. ...more
4

Jun 21, 2007

Po Bronson undertook this project because he was asking himself the title question. He traveled across the world to learn how others had found their answer.

Delightfully, there is no pat response. Lives don't wrap neatly into timelines or bar graphs of progress. As a result, those who are hoping for a quick answer should steer clear. This book is perfect for those who have time to savor the stories while seeking their own passions.

Bronson writes compassionately. His heart is beating right next Po Bronson undertook this project because he was asking himself the title question. He traveled across the world to learn how others had found their answer.

Delightfully, there is no pat response. Lives don't wrap neatly into timelines or bar graphs of progress. As a result, those who are hoping for a quick answer should steer clear. This book is perfect for those who have time to savor the stories while seeking their own passions.

Bronson writes compassionately. His heart is beating right next to those of his characters. This openness led him to a few universal jewel-like lessons, including:

"Usually, all we get is a glimmer. A story we read or someone we briefly meet. A curiosity. A meek voice inside, whispering. It's up to us to hammer out the rest."

During my period of transition (I like to call it my Personal Renaissance), this book brought hope, courage, and chutzpah. Bronson's ability to stir up such emotions is epitomized in the following quote, which I will strive to live by:

"But I'd rather help than watch. I'd rather have a heart than a mind. I'd rather expose too much than to little. I'd rather say hello to strangers than be afraid of them. I would rather know all this about myself than have more money than I need. I'd rather have something to love than a way to impress you."

So, do read. A caveat, however: certain sections will appeal to you more than others. If you're getting a bit bored, turn to the front and find the groupings of stories that pull you. They're categorized into themes, such as "Destiny Vs. Self-Created Meaning."

Enjoy. Breathe. And express your true self.

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3

Jan 12, 2013

If you just lost your job or something and need to figure out what to do, this book is not for you. If you are a college undergrad wanting to answer the question "what major should I choose?" then this book is also not for you.

This book is for someone who is willing to accept that there isn't an easy answer for a career, since choosing a career, like choosing the person to marry, can have a lot of positives from a number of options. It doesn't offer straightforward, simplistic career advice, it If you just lost your job or something and need to figure out what to do, this book is not for you. If you are a college undergrad wanting to answer the question "what major should I choose?" then this book is also not for you.

This book is for someone who is willing to accept that there isn't an easy answer for a career, since choosing a career, like choosing the person to marry, can have a lot of positives from a number of options. It doesn't offer straightforward, simplistic career advice, it is more of a memoir (many, many people's short histories) with a narration that struggles to weave together an answer.

The answer is more zen than you would like, of course, but aren't all the best answers like that?

Po's writing is wonderfully journalistically investigative and he uncovers the questions that are nagging at me when someone says something like "Changing my job changed my life" and he digs into it to say, it's not just that easy, is it? I am very intrigued to read more of his writing now.

I did find it a little long winded. I realize it must've been very difficult to pare it down (there are so many good stories!!) and he did an amazing job of categorizing them in relevant fields (not career and job specific as would be the easy and mis-leading route). But there were numerous areas that were a bit repetitive, whereas I wish he had spent a little more time on the careers that were influenced by children and parenting (only 3 out of 57). ...more
0

Sep 05, 2011

This is a strange book. It's fascinating because people are fascinating: I am a big fan of Studs Turkel and similar projects. But the way all the people's stories are filtered through Bronson--some of them are portrayed quite critically, in ways the interviewees would not appreciate--made me uncomfortable. There are lines that journalists and academics don't cross with their subjects, and while Bronson clearly develops a high level of trust with his interviewees that made them more frank, I This is a strange book. It's fascinating because people are fascinating: I am a big fan of Studs Turkel and similar projects. But the way all the people's stories are filtered through Bronson--some of them are portrayed quite critically, in ways the interviewees would not appreciate--made me uncomfortable. There are lines that journalists and academics don't cross with their subjects, and while Bronson clearly develops a high level of trust with his interviewees that made them more frank, I can't help thinking that it's slightly unethical. He became buddies with his subjects, baring his soul to them, giving them advice and encouragement and his own analysis of their lives--his authority being that he is a regular guy who has suffered confusion and remorse. He also looks like a young Richard Gere, which probably helped people warm to him. But although he is not exactly professional, he clearly wants to help people, and maybe he does. I really like the variety of stories, and the fact that many people remain conflicted and confused: they're not all lawyers who gave it up to make goat cheese and are blissfully happy. ...more
5

Mar 03, 2014

I really enjoyed this book, full of stories of how people have created meaningful lives. Everyone who chooses a new life path has a unique transition process and it's always a challenge on some level, though not the same challenge for everyone.

Reading others' stories has encouraged me to see my life a little differently, as a continuum and a woven story rather than separate vignettes or roles or chronologies. In one story is buried the nugget that making the shift ISN'T easy, even though most I really enjoyed this book, full of stories of how people have created meaningful lives. Everyone who chooses a new life path has a unique transition process and it's always a challenge on some level, though not the same challenge for everyone.

Reading others' stories has encouraged me to see my life a little differently, as a continuum and a woven story rather than separate vignettes or roles or chronologies. In one story is buried the nugget that making the shift ISN'T easy, even though most people think it's supposed to be. It's hard work to find your place, you "sweet spot." In another story, the gift of finding the beauty of making several changes to reach the place where one's past experience comes together, whether planned or serendipitously. In every story is hope and the promise that doing what makes you happy is the key to finding and MAKING meaning.

There are no fairytales, no magic wands, no lightening bolt answers from the sky. Just a willingness to keep seeking and connecting one's deepest gifts. Honestly written. ...more
5

Apr 27, 2012

I accidentally found this book on a forgotten shelf in a store in Amsterdam, NL. I could not overcome the situational irony I found in the title, as I was browsing the shelves asking myself the very question "what should I do with my life?"

Despite the unbearably campy title, this book does a marvelous job answering that very question. Po Bronson chronicles the challenges, successes, changes, and lives of every "type" of person imaginable. With these little glimpses into the lives of others, I I accidentally found this book on a forgotten shelf in a store in Amsterdam, NL. I could not overcome the situational irony I found in the title, as I was browsing the shelves asking myself the very question "what should I do with my life?"

Despite the unbearably campy title, this book does a marvelous job answering that very question. Po Bronson chronicles the challenges, successes, changes, and lives of every "type" of person imaginable. With these little glimpses into the lives of others, I found myself more secure in my own floundering in these issues.

This is not a how-to book. This is not a self-help book. This is a collection of true life stories that may very well speak to you as they did to me. ...more
1

Nov 09, 2011

I found it boring. Very VERY boring. This book is filled with stories of people who have supposedly figured out what to do with their lifes, but to me it seemed like a bunch of people who really didn't have a lot of answers either. Every story is told by the author and not by the individual person and the author has his own take on each story and also talks about his own life in each story. I got kind of a condescending air from the author as well. Sort of like "I interviewed all these people I found it boring. Very VERY boring. This book is filled with stories of people who have supposedly figured out what to do with their lifes, but to me it seemed like a bunch of people who really didn't have a lot of answers either. Every story is told by the author and not by the individual person and the author has his own take on each story and also talks about his own life in each story. I got kind of a condescending air from the author as well. Sort of like "I interviewed all these people and am so much more enlightened than you... let me tell you something...."

Overall this book did not hold my interest and didn't help me much. I may have learned a few things, but generally for me, this book was a waste of time. ...more
1

Jan 25, 2010

What should I do with my life? Not read this book, for starters. I had to throw in the towel on this one. I made it to page 143 out of 365 and couldn't take it any more! It's about people and their empty, meaningless jobs or lives in flux. Maybe I'm just not smart enough for this book, but I thought it was completely boring. The narration was so irritating that I'd even go so far as to call it arrogant.
5

Sep 12, 2018

Though the question itself brings a lot of anxiety, the book about it doesn't at all. Po has a wonderful voice and you really get to know the people who dared to answer this question.

The second part of the title, "The true story of people who answered the ultimate question", is really what the book is about. It's a collection of humans that Po has connected with and is relaying his lessons to us. But my favorite parts of the books weren't learning about all of the people he talked to, it was the Though the question itself brings a lot of anxiety, the book about it doesn't at all. Po has a wonderful voice and you really get to know the people who dared to answer this question.

The second part of the title, "The true story of people who answered the ultimate question", is really what the book is about. It's a collection of humans that Po has connected with and is relaying his lessons to us. But my favorite parts of the books weren't learning about all of the people he talked to, it was the stories that Po gave about his own life and how he's overcome his adversity.

Here's one of my favorite quotes from the book, by Po:

"I learned that it was in hard times that people usually changed the course of their life; in good times, they frequently only talked about change. Hard times forced them to overcome the doubts that normally gave them pause. It surprised me how often we hold ourselves back until we have no choice." ...more
4

May 11, 2018

Not a scintillating read but an eye opening one. In that way it parallels many of the stories the book is trying to tell: these lives are not perfect, or necessarily extraordinary, but in that plain humanity can be found the beauty.

Eyes opened: I think I really gained from hearing so many widely differing stories of people making unconventional, radical, brave choices. It's empowering to see the various struggles people went through (small and large) and to see how they pulled themselves out of Not a scintillating read but an eye opening one. In that way it parallels many of the stories the book is trying to tell: these lives are not perfect, or necessarily extraordinary, but in that plain humanity can be found the beauty.

Eyes opened: I think I really gained from hearing so many widely differing stories of people making unconventional, radical, brave choices. It's empowering to see the various struggles people went through (small and large) and to see how they pulled themselves out of them, and to see how even their solution was imperfect. Good, but imperfect.

...more
4

Jul 14, 2018

Read this years ago. Loved it! The author interviewed people about this question: "What should I do with my life?". Over and over again, the book shows that vocation is not a simple question and answer process.

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