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Sonia Golani’s My Life, My Rules promises to be an inspiring book; but sadly, it does not keep its word.
Review by Unmana Datta
I trudged through this book so you wouldn’t have to: stories of unconventional careers sound very interesting, but sloppy reporting, writing, and editing make this book nearly unreadable.
Sonia Golani’s My Life, My Rules: Stories Of 18 Unconventional Careers has accounts of 18 contemporary entrepreneurs who, according to the back cover, demonstrate that “switching careers mid-stream is not a bad idea at all.”
Interesting premise, right? Pity the book doesn’t live up to it. Of the 18 entrepreneurs, most of them made their “career switch” while they were still in college. A few did happen on their current careers after working in different fields, like Rashmi Uday Singh, former bureaucrat turned food critic, and Minal Vazirani, business consultant turned art auctioneer. Most, like Nikhil Chinapa and Aditi Govartikar, started the careers they are best known for while in college. So if you are going through a mid-life (or quarter-life) crisis and want to read this book for inspiration – don’t bother.
What really bothered me though was the lazy reporting and inadequate writing. Phrases like “they got married almost more than twenty-five years ago” and “wine people are known to be cool people” made me want to hurl the book across the room (and I think it says much for my dedication that I picked it up and read on after a break of a few short hours).
Each chapter starts out with a third-person point of view but it’s soon apparent that it’s a set of answers by the interviewee with minimum editing, making for difficult reading. After a few pages, the pretence is dropped (only to be picked up again in the next chapter) and the text evolves into actual questions and answers, sometimes with no quotation marks around first person statements. A clear interview question-answer format would actually have been much more readable!
To add to that, the author seems too awe-struck and eager to question these people or ask anything but flattering questions. In the same paragraph, we are told that Harsha Bhogle and his wife have supported their sons in pursuing the careers of their choice – and the sons are, respectively, employed at Tata Motors and studying law! But there is no acknowledgement of the irony of this except for a remark that they might in future pursue “offbeat” careers in marketing or broadcasting!
But this seems too much to expect of the author who asks writer Amish Tripathi about leaving his bank job, whether he feels comfortable about being a “house husband.” I am torn between the inanity of asking this about a successful writer and the misogyny behind that question, which Tripathi gracefully deflects.
Wait, that was the point where I threw the book down. And if you really want to read it after reading this review, maybe I can send you my copy.
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