So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

Cal Newport. Grand Central/Business Plus, $25.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4555-0912-6

Countless experts have argued that following your passion is the key to career success and bliss in life. In his lively and engaging first book, Newport (who at the time of writing was an MIT computer science doctoral student and active blogger) debunks this assertion as clichéd, unrealistic, and possibly even destructive. He offers an alternative view that passion takes time and, in fact, is a side effect of being good at what you do. Developing mastery takes study, discipline, and repetition, Newport notes, and many compelling careers have “complex origins.” Drawing on real-life examples of individuals including Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, operators of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and a Harvard professor, and others, Newport examines how meaning, mastery, and passion can emerge in a variety of careers depending on how they are approached. This refreshing view encourages readers to make reasonable choices, buckle down and put in the time, and through trial and error hone their “career capital.” Written in an optimistic and accessible tone, with clear logic and no-nonsense advice, this work is useful reading for anyone new to the job market and striving to find a path or for those who have been struggling to find meaning in their current careers. Agent: Laurie Abkemeier, DeFiore and Company. (July)