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August 15, 2006

Dont Judge a Book By Its Cover!

John Sutherland, author of the book, and Chairman of last year's Man Booker Prize Committee, on his book "How to Read a Novel - A User Guide", says

"If there is a message in the book, it's choose for yourself - find out who you are and what fiction works for you."

Ditto for making career choices!

Some other interesting analogies from his interview:

Dont pick a book just because it is award winning. How many of us are attracted to organizations simply because they feature on a whole lot of Top 20 lists? Prizes, argues Sutherland are pointers and can provide sign posts. But do you really agree with the book in principle? Does this organization fit into the career trajectory you have charted out for yourself?

Serious novels tend to get priorities over comic ones. In other words, a heirarchy will always exist, even if it is only in the mind. Some jobs will always be less prized than others. But which is the one you believe you will enjoy doing?

All searches are typically driven by external factors. Industry, salary, brand, designation, location, and the likes. Which is perfectly acceptable if you are operating on a "this works fine for me right now" mentality. So you might pick up a book which would otherwise not appeal to you, just to get you through a long journey. I call these the "airport lounge books", and have plenty such gathering dust on my shelves. You might take up a job because it gives you a 100% jump in salary - and you could do with some extra income at this point of time.

But, if your search is for something more long term and involving, it would have to be driven by internal factors. Doing homework on yourself is an ongoing process, but worth it when you get the output you truly love. And hell, if you can do it for buying a book, why cant you do it for your career?


  • Nice post! Something which most of us realize only after our first job- you can't do justice to it, if you don't love what you do.

    By Anonymous Astha, at Tuesday, 15 August, 2006  

  • Good post - yes. Excellent reading - absolutely. But, easier said than done if you ask me. The external factors at times are so compelling, that somewhere down the line, one has the tendency of ignoring the internal ones. Happens to everyone I guess.

    By Blogger Ananda, at Wednesday, 30 August, 2006  

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