WRITING STYLE: 4.5/5
FINAL VERDICT: 4/5
“Kindness needs to be cultivated. It needs practice. Only a person who understands other’s pains, sorrows, and expectations can relate to kindness. Kindness is not only about cheque-book charity.”
– P C Balasubramanian, Jujube
Happiness is elusive but happiness need not be sought. You don’t have to run after happiness. Following some simple but golden rules of living can open the doors to joyful living. This is exactly what my latest read attempts to educate its readers about – 30 simple steps to joyful living. Read on to know more about my thoughts on renowned author PC Balasubramanian’s latest read, “Jujube”.
What to expect?
Expect a book that is very simple to read. Expect a book that is meant for people of all ages and from all walks of life. Expect a book that would surely appeal to non-readers as well. Expect a book that is objective and crisp. Finally, expect a book that gives ample examples from the author’s personal and professional experiences and which also recounts the experiences of many celebrities.
Who can read?
Anyone with a basic knowledge of the English language can read “Jujube”.
A beginning that catches your eye
Few authors realize the importance of a great start. From the first page where the author explains the captivating title of the book, to the foreword where Mr. Prakash Iyer helps the reader realize the magnitude of the issue – the book manages to grip the reader from the very beginning. How to be happy when typed into the Google search bar returns 7.5 billion results, thus indicating the supposed complexity and elusiveness of the feeling of happiness.
But is it really that complicated? – the reader muses. In my experience, when a book makes you think out loud, it is always a good indicator.
The objectives neatly laid out
A great book is never confusing and having read many nonfiction books in my life, I tend to place a high value on simplicity and conciseness. Albert Einstein is known to have said – “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself”. In the same way, the objective of the book is also laid out neatly at the start. To quote the author – “In 30 chapters, I delineate 30 ways to stay happy. Some, you may be doing already; some, you would love to do henceforth.” Now, what could be crisper than that?
Who should read?
Readers who have previously not read many self-help books on the subject of happiness and well-being can pick this book up. Also, non-readers who usually shy away from reading can give this book a go because of its simple, concise, and practical approach to the subject.
What did I like?
The book touches upon the simplest of ideas which I am sure would be known to most people. But unfortunately, as simple as they sound, these ideas are often overlooked by us. I like the way “Jujube” doesn’t tend to preach. Instead, it reminds us of doing the things that we already know of but still shy away from.
Questions that make you ponder
The icing on the cake is the set of 4 to 5 questions at the end of each chapter. They do not question you on what you have learned but instead focus on other things. For example, what do you feel about a particular lesson? have you practiced it in the past? If you have stopped doing something, why? When was the last time you did something on such lines? Can you think of ways to implement it in your current life? etc. It is these questions that make you reflect on your life and on the direction, it has taken over the years. These questions make you take that first but necessary step in your journey towards becoming a joyful being.
A book for the Indian reader
The book takes into consideration Indian culture and sensibilities. Some chapters talk about taking a trip to a spiritual place, visiting our native, celebrating festivals, and paying attention to the elders and the young of the family. All of these resonate with Indian values and societal norms.
There is one particular chapter about connecting with people that sounds so simple and yet so profound. It left a lasting impact on my mind. The author mentions that with people whom we meet and interact frequently, the conversations flow effortlessly, but with people whom we meet after a long time, we often find it difficult to sustain a conversation, even though we may have a lot to catch up on. Simple and deep.
What could have been better?
A lot of examples given in the book come from famous movie stars. I would have loved it if the author had included more examples of leaders from all walks of life rather than mostly film stars.
My many takeaways
Though I just expressed my qualm with using mostly film stars as examples, I cannot help but feel inspired by the Tamil superstar Rajnikanth’s example. In the chapter titled Meet Friends Periodically, the author tells us how the actor still manages to stay in touch with Raja Bahadur, the bus driver who worked with him before he became an actor. How many of us can say that? How many of us can claim to have stayed in touch with friends from our primary school or high school days?
Just another book on happiness?
No, it would be a gross injustice to call “Jujube” just another book on happiness. The book is much more than that. The idea, the concepts, the personal experiences, and the examples of leaders and celebrities – together make this book a one-of-a-kind read.
In the end
In the end, “Jujube” is a book that has something to offer to every reader who reads it. It is a book that is short and crisp, but one must read it slowly, think and ponder on what it says, and only then gradually implement the lessons that it has to offer. In my humble opinion, this is the best way to go about it.
The final verdict
Go for it!
Pick the book if
- You are looking for a simple and concise read on happiness and well-being.
- You enjoy books that are not preachy and talk about practical tips and suggestions.
- You are looking for self-help meant for the Indian reader.
- You are a beginner level reader when it comes to the self-help genre.
- You like books that have a personal touch in the form of personal anecdotes and experiences.
- You like discovering new voices in the Indian motivation and self-help space.
Skip the book if
- You are an ardent reader of nonfiction.
- You have previously read many other books on the subject of happiness.
- You are looking for a detailed and in-depth read.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of “Jujube” using the link below