Tag Archives: Books

“Born For This” Book Review

BornForThisbook

Do you ever feel unsure about what you’re  doing with your life? Wake up in the morning and think, “Am I really doing what I’m supposed to be doing?”

Whether it’s where you live, your choice of partner, or your career path, there are many things that can cause a sense of dissatisfaction or restlessness. We all feel these things from time to time—but what we choose to do with these thoughts is what sets us apart.

Some people are dissatisfied, but feel stuck, so they don’t change anything.

Others choose to do something about their discontentment, and they look for ways to change the things that are making them unhappy.

Chris Guillebeau is definitely a man of action. He set a goal to visit every country in the world before he turned 35—and he achieved it! He gathers thousands of people every year in Portland for the not as scary as it sounds World Domination Summit. And he regularly seeks out people who are doing inspiring things and shares their stories through his writing (his other books include The Happiness of Pursuit and The $100 Startup).

Born For This is Chris’s newest book, and it’s all about helping readers find the work they were meant to do.

This topic is especially interesting to me since I spent over two years writing about jobs and career paths when I worked at AfterCollege and oversaw the AfterCollege Blog.

If you see someone who loves their work, it’s easy to think that they were just lucky, or as Chris puts it, they “won the career lottery.” And it’s true that some people have an innate sense of their calling and everything just seems to fall into place for them. But that’s only a small percentage of people.

The larger percentage of people have to experiment, trying different jobs and industries before they find something that’s a good fit.

In the past decade or so, there’s also been a shift in the types of jobs that are available. There are now so many more options for people who want to start their own business or freelance.

In Born For This, Chris offers anecdotes and advice for every type of employment, whether it’s a side hustle, firefighting, or DIY rock star. I love the stories and quotes from real people that appear throughout the book. These are further proof that there’s no single way of finding your career path—you can step in gradually by trying out small projects or jump in head first.

The book also features a few suggestions for activities and exercises you can try to help find the answers to some of these big questions if you don’t already know what you should be doing. I took the short quiz online and found the results to be surprisingly accurate and enlightening!

Chris’s writing style is clear and engaging, so Born For This is an easy and enjoyable read.

I think that ultimately, experience is the best way of assessing whether you’d be suited for a particular career, and reading a book won’t give you the same insight that an internship, informational interview, or job shadowing session would. But if you’re at the stage where you don’t even know where to start (or you just want to hear some entertaining and inspiring stories about other people’s quests for career happiness), Born For This is the book for you.

Review of Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by Christian Rudder

writer crush

Let me just come clean and put it out there: I have developed a serious writer crush on Christian Rudder after reading Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking).

Christian Rudder is the cofounder of OkCupid (and on-again off-again author of the popular OkTrends blog) so it’s not too surprising that his writing has the power to evoke some pretty serious swooning.

Here are the reasons why I loved Dataclysm:

  • Powerful storytelling and hooks. Every chapter opens with some sort of story or anecdote that draws you in, whether it’s about the power of nostalgia or the internet’s ability to build up heroes and tear them down instantly. Pretty impressive for a book that’s centered around data, numbers, and charts.
  • Strategic usage of witty one-liners. One of my favorite parts of the book is the rubric that Rudder creates to categorize the most commonly used phrases in people’s OkCupid profiles. These are broken down by race and gender, so you can see what the most common phrases are among white males, Asian males, Latino males, etc. Rudder’s overall assessment of the white male demographic? A lumberjack music festival. (Of course this makes much more sense when you can see all the phrases, but some of the highlights in the white male section include “Phish,” “redneck,” and “Flogging Molly.”)
  • The subject matter/cocktail conversation fodder. I find dating and relationships fascinating, and it’s super interesting to learn about common misconceptions, like the idea that you and your partner have to have matching political views. Rudder argues that it’s actually the strength of your convictions (in other words, whether you care about politics or not) that’s more predictive of a relationship’s success than whether both people are Democrats or Republicans. Also, the two questions that tend to predict compatibility the most accurately are: “Have you ever traveled alone?” and “Do you like horror movies?” (If both people answer yes to each of those questions, they have a higher rate of compatibility than other couples.)
  • Rudder’s sensitivity to limitations and privacy concerns. In a brief interview on Amazon.com, when asked about whether he’s worried about any of his research and its implications, Rudder says, “I have mixed feelings about the implications. I myself almost never tweet, post, or share anything about my personal life. At the same time, I’ve just spent three years writing about how interesting all this data is, and I cofounded OkCupid. My hope is that this ambivalence makes me a trustworthy guide through the thicket of technology and data. I admire the knowledge that social data can bring us; I also fear the consequences.” I also appreciated how in several instances, he explains why he’s only looking at a certain segment of the population and what impact that can have on his overall assessments.

Dataclysm is definitely one of the most well-written and thought-provoking books I’ve read in a while, and I hope that taking the time to make these observations will help me to become a more sensitive and skillful writer myself.

Have you developed any writer crushes lately? What attracted you to a certain writer’s voice, content, or style? Let me know in the comments!