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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book Review: Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul at Work

Once again I have a book to review from BlogAdda.com as part of their book review program. They were kind enough to send it to me by express courier so that it reached me in time for my trip. The book became a very good companion for me during my flights between Mumbai - Dubai and Dubai – Doha. The 101 stories, related to the Indian workplace kept me entertained on this 'work related trip' of mine.
My earliest memories of reading the 'Chicken Soup' series dates back more than a decade when I got my hands on my first 'chicken soup for soul'. It was a nice sentimental read. It was the 'Original' version. And then I began noticing all sorts of 'variations' coming up at the bookstores. Then off late, in recent years I even heard about Indian variants coming up.
It was interesting to read the same flavored sentimental humanly touching stories with the Indian 'tadka'. This book which I read brings together yet another collection of 101 stories of entrepreneurship & creativity at the Indian workplace.
For this book, Juhi Rai Farmania joined hands with Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen and brought together the 101 stories that made it to the book.
The real life stories are typically short and simple; they relate to real life incidents from ordinary people's lives. Since the focus is the workplace; we get to see the dynamics of the Indian workplace through the stories besides the typical failure-before-success stories.
Most of the stories are quick to read and leave you thinking. You spend more time thinking about what you have just read and start relating it to your own personal experience in life. You tend to identify with various characters in the stories and begin to think of similar people around you. I believe that has been the 'soul' of this series of books and this edition of the series manages to adhere to the soul. The chicken soup with Indian workplace tadka is pretty good read.
Not all of the 101 stories are excellent reading; some are boring, some extremely predictable and some of them very generic. When you read an inspiring story; you get inspired by the 'aha' moment or incident in the story which changes the course, mood and sentiment of the story. A generic story of struggle and achieving success by continued hard work don't really inspire (me at least). Unfortunately, there were only a handful of the stories that really inspired me.
The 101 stories have been put in about 13 categories. All of them are kind of a mixed bag -  a mix of generic boring as well as interesting inspiring stories.
Two things I observed were that there were many similar stories and quite a lot of the stories were authored by women. Quite a few stories had an element of personal calamity due to demise of father or husband. A couple of stories had girls/women vying for Mountaineering / Adventure Sports kind of professions. I don't know why there was a need to have similar stories. In a country of more than a billion people, I am sure there are plenty of good and 'different' stories for a chicken soup book. This element of the book surely disappointed me. I was looking for 101 stories of inspiration. I got a lot less. And yes, some stories left me confused about the message they were trying to convey.  
Some stories focus on the importance of personal life (work life balance) while some had a bend of entrepreneurship in them while there were others which touched ethics as well as relationship with other people at work.
I am personally biased towards the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and would pick up any that I come across (except those which are clearly not meant for me [Chicken Soup for the African American Soul, Chicken Soup for the Baseball Fan's Soul, Chicken Soup for the Breast Cancer Survivor's Soul] or have very weird titles [Chicken Soup for the Dental Soul, Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul]; or both [Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause, Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul] which {sadly} seems like a majority)
About this book in particular; the book could have been much better. The selection of stories leaves much to be desired. Maybe the author did not have enough stories to choose from and she probably picked up the best amongst the worst to meet the target of 101 stories. I don't know. I would have loved to have 101 inspiration packed stories in the book. I got less.

Trivia: As per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chicken_Soup_for_the_Soul_books there have been more than 105 Chicken Soup titles till January 2006 and so many more might have been added to this list in the past 6 years. Doesn't that dilute the genre (I am referring to Chicken Soup itself as a genre). Wont people soon get tired of the series?  And yes, this is the place where I found the weird and otherwise titles.


This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program  at BlogAdda.com . Participate now to get free books!

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