Top critical review
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Has Some Interesting Points
on 22 January 2004
I purchased this book because I was intrigued by the title and believe that this is a question many people ask all the time, even if a person is happy with life at a particular moment. I think we all wonder what is out there and we all want this “more.” For people who are in a job in which they hate, which may be a great job but it is not the right job, this question is critical. Author Po Bronson faced this same question. He was originally a business person, but inside was a writer yearning to be free. He had to ask himself difficult questions and seek the answers that best suited his life. As he reflected upon the steps he took from becoming a business person to writer, he believed that other people who made changes in their own lives probably asked the same questions. He researched out many people and the results are what this book is all about as it answers the question passed by the author, “What Should I Do With My Life?”
The book’s greatest strength is the author. He is a gifted writer and when the reader encounters the many people he interviews, it is more like listening to a person talk than reading a text. He is a person who not only listens, but knows the questions to ask, when to interject, and when to remain quiet. The easy to read chapters flow quite well, and give the reader much to think about afterward. He uses different people who are at different stages in life, and the author seems to respect most of the people he includes. He is hardly sentimental, and this book is not gushy. It is real and for most of the people included, there is still a great deal of unfinished business in their lives.
For me, the book had two weaknesses, but I am willing to bet that for many readers, these would be strengths. First, I believe the book lacked diversity. It seemed as if most of the people interviewed, or at least included in the book were white males with a smattering of white females. Most were in their thirties or early forties, and most seemed to be somewhat privileged, or at least had opportunities open to them. This is not a book to find too many Horatio Alger tales. While many of these people do make radical life changes, they also seem to have a plan they can fall back on, based upon the advantages they have had in life. The author alludes to this very fact at one point in the book, but does not change the focus. Perhaps this is because he knows his focus audience rather well. Another weakness is that the book focuses almost solely on jobs and changing one’s job in order to be happy. Very little attention is given to other factors that give life meaning such as family, faith, or enjoyment that enriches life. While the author does not downplay the importance of these things in life, it is clear he wants to show that having a lousy job that has to be endured in order to enjoy other aspects in life is a copout, even though many people remain at jobs they do not care for because other aspects of their lives are in order. Bronson seem to be arguing that since people today often times have the opportunity to take advantage of opportunities previous generations lacked, and that many people today have had extended periods of youth, it is quite possible that people in the future will not be trying to reclaim a lost youth as many did in the generation that preceded the late baby boomers/early generation X. Though I find the lack of diversity and over focus on work as weaknesses, the author presents that material in such a way that in a few years, I may be look at this book differently and see him as prophetic.
People hoping to make changes in their life direction will undoubtedly find this book helpful. Those of us who are satisfied with our jobs will also find this book helpful because it does get a person thinking about what matters most in life, and Bronson encourages people to look within before looking outside of ourselves, always timely advice.