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What Should I Do with My Life?: The True…

What Should I Do with My Life?: The True Story of People Who Answered the… (2002)

by Po Bronson

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The author interviews people who struggled to find what they really wanted to do in life. Issues they faced included other people's perceptions, lack of courage, drop in salary, balancing ethics and desires, and understanding where their passions lay.
  Salsabrarian | Feb 2, 2016 |
'm almost done with this book. I've enjoyed the short chapters—each one a brief glance at those pivetal moments in one's life. I know I've had a few of those "ah ha!" moments that have so changed my course of life and career and I've many similar stories from friends and relatives. My only complaint is that sometimes Po Bronson feels the need to interject herself and question the wisdom and direction her interviewees take which is completely contrary to the spirit of the book! ( )
  pussreboots | Sep 7, 2014 |
Read by the author. Well done. I only learned at the end that the audio version I listened to was abridged. I felt badly about this because I really warmed to the book as it went along. ( )
  zoomball | Mar 2, 2014 |
Stacey's suggestion for bookclub.
  ljhliesl | May 21, 2013 |
Most people, most Americans anyway, of my generation can't expect to spend their entire lives with one company, or even in one industry. The best thing about "What Should I Do With My Life," then, is that it provides a clear, honest picture of how complex and chaotic career paths can be these days. The people who are the subjects of Bronson's stories one thing and then another, they fall into jobs as if by accident, they abandon careers they've spent decades training for and even turn hobbies into whole new careers. For better or for worse, "What Should I Do With My Life" could be called "The Way We Work Now."

The problem with Bronson's book, and the reason I didn't finish reading it, is that, despite its relatively simple mission and Bronson's more-or-less unadorned prose style, it contains a well-hidden but unmistakable current of what might be termed Bullshit Business Spirituality. You know, the sort hawked by management consultants who've trademarked a raft of touchy-feely buzzwords and self-absorbed MBA-wielding jackasses who think they're so interesting that they need to publish their memoirs. I've only read a few excerpts of John Bowe's "Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs," but it seemed a more honest and direct piece of work. Let's face it: only a twenty-first century American would title a book about the workplace "What Should I Do With My Life," and call that "the ultimate question." While some people are lucky enough to find fulfillment in the workplace, there's also a pretty good argument for remembering that what moist people call real life takes place elsewhere. Heck, in this economy, most people feel lucky if they can cover both the rent and the electric bill each month. While Bronson makes a serious and sincere attempt to understand his subjects' stories and usefully interpret their career trajectories, his book, like most attempts to fuse capitalism and spiritual contentment, comes off as naive at best and foolish and hollow at worst. Funnily enough, this isn't to say that some people won't find it useful or inspiring; at the very least, it'll let people who didn't find their life's vocation the first few times out that they're not alone. Still, I'd rather get my inspiration elsewhere.

p.s.: This review was written during a lull in the workday on an office computer. What do you say to that, Po? ( )
1 vote TheAmpersand | Mar 14, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
Novelist and business writer Bronson spent two years interviewing more than 900 people who had weighed or were weighing that question. From his research came the book, What Should I Do With My Life? The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question.
added by mikeg2 | editNPR, Po Bronson (Jan 3, 2003)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345485920, Mass Market Paperback)

In What Should I Do with My Life? Po Bronson manages to create a career book that is a page-turner. His 50 vivid profiles of people searching for "their soft spot--their true calling" will engage readers because Bronson is asking himself the same question. He explores his premise, that "nothing is braver than people facing up to their own identity," as an anthropologist and autobiographer. He tackles thorny, nuanced issues about self-determination. Among them: paradoxes of money and meaning, authorship and destiny, brain candy and novelty versus soul food. Bronson’s stories, limited to professional people and complete with photos, are gems. They include a Los Angeles lawyer who became a priest, a Harvard MBA catfish farmer turned biotech executive, and a Silicon Valley real estate agent who opened a leather crafts factory in Costa Rica.

Bronson is a gifted intuitive writer, the bestselling author of The Nudist on the Late Shift, whose thoughtful, vulnerable voice emerges as the book’s greatest strength and challenge. He describes his subject’s lives along with the ways they annoy, puzzle, and worry him. He frets about meddling with his questions, yet once, memorably and appropriately, he offers a talented man a top post in his publishing company. While this creates the juiciness of his portraits, it also can make Bronson the book’s most memorable character and the only one whose story is not resolved. Even so, this remarkable career chronicle sets the gold standard for the worth of the examined life. --Barbara Mackoff

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:38 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Presents a series of profiles of individuals from around the world who have found meaningful answers to some of life's most difficult questions, explaining how, through an honest approach to their own life, they have found new direction and understanding in their lives and how they can serve as examples for others.… (more)

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