Why Do I Love These People?  

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Why Do I Love These People? by Po Bronson
2005, from the library

You should know
It’s the holidays, which means a) free time and b) gift-giving. Conclusion? I’m going to do as many of these of the holidays and post them between now and the first of the year. I’ll still post on Wednesdays, but we’ll see how many extra I can fit in, as well.

I’ve read Bronson’s What Should I Do With My Life?, and really enjoyed it. When I heard about this book, I decided I had to read it… and eventually, I got around to doing just that.

I enjoy Bronson’s style of writing. He writes what are basically essays that are tied together under a theme – but he also manages a very tenuous narrative arc. You could read any of the stories from either book on its own, or you could read either book straight through; it would work either way.

Bronson’s style of reporting is interesting, not least because it actually works. When he has a new idea for a book, he beings asking people he knows about their takes on his questions. Then, they mention it to people he knows, who call him; they, in turn, do the same, until he is traveling the country and spending the week with total strangers, gathering as many stories as possible so that he can cull the 20 or so best from a pool almost forty times that size.

The overall mood of the book is a bit fluffy, but that’s fair: when you read a book about family, you want it to tell you that your family will be ok. “I’m better off than some of these people,” you might tell yourself, “And they ended up all right.”

Give it a chance
I’m not saying you’ll love it, or that it’s fine literature by any stretch, but as inspirational books go, it could be far more saccharine. There are some interesting, even compelling stories included, and the moral, though obvious, is solid.

The rest of the Internet
The companion Factbook.
Po Bronson discusses his book on the The Early Show.
Chris at Adventures in Capitalism gave the book a great review.

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