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What Should I Do With My Life?by Po Bronson
Synopses & Reviews
Though he'd just published his third bestseller (The Nudist on the Late Shift) Po Bronson remained uneasy. "The book was out and it was selling," he reflected. "It was doing well, at the bottom of some bestseller lists, and people were saying, 'We want you to write more,' but I just wanted to get out." For his next project, Bronson decided to find out what made work meaningful, and how people found their calling. Dave, Powells.com
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.
"[An] elevated career guide....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
"Throughout the book, Bronson explores the many fears and misconceptions arising from the search for a career." Booklist
"Beautifully written....Bronson masterfully blends narrative and interpretation, coaxing his subjects to life in telling, resonant anecdotes. This is holistic writing of unique, encouraging power." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"This new title matches a worthwhile premise...with a tone refreshingly free of either sap or cynicism....What [Bronson] finds is equally useful to middle-age folks and fresh college grads." Cleveland Plain Dealer (Year's Best Books)
"Bronson's freewheeling analysis and earnest assertions of respect for his subjects fail to engage, resulting in messy pastiche of oral history, sociology, and self-help. Well-researched, engaging stories struggling under the weight of cloying commentary." Kirkus Reviews
"The discussions of mistakes, lessons, and hard-fought decisions on the iffy road to occupational fulfillment will be valuable for teens." School Library Journal
The bestselling author of Bombardiers and The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest traveled the world in search of people who had found meaningful answers to one of life's greatest questions: "What should I do with my life?" Along the way, his own life was changed by conversations with these individuals, who, by daring to be honest with themselves, have found new direction and understanding in their lives.
Although all three of his books have been critically acclaimed bestsellers, author Po Bronson began work on What Should I Do with My Life? because he was asking himself that very question. For answers, he crossed the landscape of America to find people who have struggled to unearth their true calling — people of all ages, classes, and professions who have found fulfillment: those who fought with the seduction of money, intensity, and novelty and overcame their allure; those who broke away from the chorus to learn the sound of their own voice.
“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.”
What should I do with my life?
It’s a question many of us have pondered with frequency. Author Po Bronson was asking himself that very question when he decided to write this book—an inspiring exploration of how people transform their lives and a template for how we can answer this question for ourselves.
Bronson traveled the country in search of individuals who have struggled to find their calling, their true nature—people who made mistakes before getting it right. He encountered people of all ages and all professions—a total of fifty-five fascinating individuals trying to answer questions such as: Is a career supposed to feel like a destiny? How do I tell the difference between a curiosity and a passion? Should I make money first, to fund my dream? If I have a child, will my frustration over my work go away? Should I accept my lot, make peace with my ambition, and stop stressing out? Why do I feel guilty for thinking about this?
From their efforts to answer these questions, the universal truths in this book emerge. Each story in these pages informs the next, and the result is a journey that unfolds with cumulative power. Reading this book is like listening in on an intimate conversation among people you care about and admire. Even if you know what you should do with your life, you will find wisdom and guidance in these stories of people who found meaningful answers by daring to be honest with themselves.
-the Pittsburgh lawyer who decided to become a trucker so he could savor the moment and be closer to his son.
-the toner-cartridge queen of Chicago, who realized that her relationships with men kept sabotaging her career choices.
-the Cuban immigrant who overcame the strong dis-approval of her parents and quit her high-paying job to pursue social-service work in Miami.
-the chemistry professor who realized, quite late in life, that he would rather practice law.
-the mother torn between an Olympic career and her adolescent daughter.
-the seventeen-year-old boy who received a letter from the Dalai Lama and was called to a life of spiritual leadership.
-the creator of St. Elmo’s Fire, who wasn’t sure he could quit his successful Hollywood life for the deeper artistic life he had always wanted to pursue.
-the author himself. Po Bronson has worked as a bus-boy, cook, janitor, sports-medicine intern, bus-lift assembly-line technician, aerobics instructor, litigation consultant, greeting-card designer, bond salesman, political-newsletter editor, high school teacher, and book publisher. Since then, he has written three books: Bombardiers, The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest, and The Nudist on the Late Shift. But none of those experiences compared to what he learned by writing this book.
“We all have passions if we choose to see them,” he writes. “Most of us don’t get epiphanies. We don’t get clarity. Our purpose doesn’t arrive neatly packaged as destiny. We only get a whisper. A blank, nonspecific urge. That’s how it starts.”
With humor, empathy, and insight, Po Bronson probes the depths of people who learned how to hear the whisper, who overcame fear and confusion to find a larger truth about their lives. A meditation, a journey, and a triumph of story-telling, What Should I Do with My Life? is a life-changing book by a writer who brilliantly tackles the big questions.
About the Author
Po Bronson is on the board of directors of Consortium Book Sales & Distribution and the editorial board of Zoetrope: All Story magazine. He has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and Wired. He graduated from Stanford with a B.A. in Economics and San Francisco State with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. He lives in San Francisco.
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