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What Should I Do With the Rest of My Life?: True Stories of Finding Success, Passion, and New Meaning in the Second Half of Life [Paperback]

Bruce Frankel

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Book Description

March 1 2011
Read Bruce Frankel's posts on the Penguin Blog

"This wise and inspiring book hands down an important message: Happiness is abundant at any age, and only you can limit your options." -The Boston Globe

In today's world, the question "What should I do with my life?" only scratches the surface. Now, more and more people-from baby boomers retiring from their "first act" to people in their forties and fifties reconsidering their careers in a recovering economy-are finding themselves wondering how to find new stimulation and meaningful work over a lifetime. Bringing together a diverse array of stories, veteran journalist Bruce Frankel brings to life a mesmerizing series of profiles of men and women who discovered a new calling, success, or purpose later in life. Brimming with inspiration and humanity, What Should I Do with the Rest of My Life? celebrates activists, artists, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, and others who found extraordinary ways to experience true fulfillment in the second half of life.

On these pages, readers will meet a civil servant, laid off at age fifty-two, who enrolled in graduate school, earning a Ph.D. in psychology; a former consultant who began a microfinance program in Africa; a longtime contact-lens grinder who has chiseled twelve hundred stone heads on a property now known as the "Easter Island of the Hudson"; and many others who proved that age is a spark-not a barrier. Full of spirit and plenty of chutzpah, this book shows that anything is possible in any stage of life.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Avery Trade; Reprint edition (March 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583334181
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583334188
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 13.8 x 20.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 240 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #528,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Bruce Frankel's upbeat, inspiring, timely book shows how taking a risk and fighting to find a passionate career-at any age-can reinvigorate your life. This should be required reading for anyone starting out, laid off, downsized, or just ready for reinvention."
-Susan Shapiro, author of Speed Shrinking and Only as Good as Your Word

About the Author

Bruce Frankel is a writer, reporter, and poet. At the age of fifty-three, he completed an MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College and began publishing in literary journals. He coauthored the bestseller Life: World War II – History’s Great Conflict in Pictures and has held positions at People, USA Today, and Gannett Westchester Newspapers, where he was a prizewinning columnist and investigative reporter. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's never too late to go on with your life. March 9 2010
By Poppy J. - Published on Amazon.com
What Should I Do With the Rest of My Life? By Bruce Frankel, is a book that chronicles the lives of people who are well past retirement age, and who are ready to begin what would be the "end" of their lives. It is a difficult idea to write that these people were actually at the end of anything, since they were obviously at the age where anyone would have retired, but they kept going. And found new ways to redefine themselves and who they are, and pick up where they left off looking for the answer to their life's dreams.

We all know that it is possible to pick ourselves up again after a personal loss, a bankruptcy or a tragedy. In these stories there are heart-warming moments and people who had the strength to pursue their lives at any age. There is the story of a teacher who started off as a substitute and went on to teach in schools where she was needed the most. At sixty-eight years old, she is making a difference in the lives of her students. Another story centers on an inventor who had success, then had setbacks because of a mismanagement error at a company she trusted. Eventually she prevailed, but not without some soul searching as to what she really wanted and what success would really be worth to her.

Each story tells of the men and women who overcame the odds, and their stories are an inspiration for us all. In these times of a downturned economy, anyone at any age can learn to reinvent who he or she is to find a new career or a new place in the job market. Success can be found anywhere and it is there for the taking.

This book was first reviewed on [..]
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dust Off Your Bucket List! May 12 2010
By Evelyn McCormack - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"What Should I Do with the Rest of My Life? True Stories of Finding Success, Passion and New Meaning in the Second Half of Life," is a charming, inspiring look at the lives of 13 individuals who decided in the latter half of their lives to embrace opportunities, as author Bruce Frankel says in his introduction, "that can scarcely be imagined or foretold."
Among the memorable characters in "What Should I Do with the Rest of My Life" is Thomas Dwyer, a former government employee who took up modern dance in his fifties, Alidra Solday, who decided at age 58 (and after recovering from breast cancer) to become a documentary filmmaker, and Loretta Thayer, who was so moved by the events of Sept. 11, 2001, that she decided to fulfill a long-time dream of re-opening a local diner and establishing it once again as a gathering place for folks in her hometown.
Frankel weaves perspective, history and details in and around each of his subjects, including the traumatic events -- illness, death, divorce and more - that shaped these 13 individuals and likely contributed to their pursuit of lifelong learning and growth.
This is the book that could get you off the couch and on the path to whatever dream has eluded you. Pull out your bucket list and get to work.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's Always Tomorrow Oct. 17 2010
By Alice Di - Published on Amazon.com
On the eve of my 45th birthday (as I do on the eve of most birthdays), I am reflecting. The year. The years. The decade. Where did it go?

Bruce Frankel's "What Should I Do With the Rest of My Life?" underscores to all of us that tomorrow will be as full as all our yesterdays. With personal investment into every individual's storyline, Bruce Frankel offers an inspiring capture of thirteen remarkable people in the back part of life.

This is a 'crossroads' read. It's not solely about the latter years of life. It's about mindset. At any age, this read is relevant and uplifting. It will shake the cobwebs off a Gen-Xer as readily as it will a Baby Boomer.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Never Too Late to Bloom! July 19 2010
By Tomar Levine - Published on Amazon.com
If you're wondering if it might be too late to achieve your goals, or are thinking of giving up on your dreams, please read Bruce Frankel's wonderful and inspiring book, What Should I Do With the Rest of My Life? In it he engagingly captures the stories of thirteen ordinary individuals whose lives took an extraordinary turn in their second half of life: setting and meeting bold new challenges, discovering dazzling gifts, or achieving life-long goals - excelling and in every case making contributions to society in their sixties, seventies, even nineties! These people defy our stereotypes and remind us of what is truly the potential not just of the human spirit, but also the human body and mind.

Take, for example, the unathletic government professional, who took up dance in his fifties, and is performing in an acclaimed dance company in his mid-seventies! Or the State employee who, laid off, got his Ph.D. in psychology at age 60, at 70 did a hospital internship and at 72 became a substance-abuse therapist with a full practice. Or the life-long writer who experienced his very first success and public acclaim in his nineties!

This book wakes us up to the fact that we need to seriously re-think our assumptions. With increasing life expectancy, and new evidence about the brain's plasticity (which Frankel touches on), not to mention the economy's nose-dive, we need to open a window in the closed room to which we have relegated our concept of aging. This is just-in-time good news for us Boomers. If we eat right and exercise, and, above all, believe in the value of our passions, it is truly never too late to bloom!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wrong title for this book April 27 2012
By mellow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It makes it sound like a more helpful item than it is - and what it is, is a collection of stories celebrating 13 people who've achieved something substantial after the age of sixty. There's an eight page intro, then it's just the stories, quite long and detailed.

Instead, or as well as stories about others, I thought it would be aimed at helping readers sort out this interesting question for themselves, something like Barbara Sher's books (Wishcraft; I could do anything if I only knew what it was; It's only too late if you don't start now, etc) which are brilliant. Those books have loads of true story-snippets about people finding their true course in life, but also lots of clever ways to peel back the layers of time and conditioning to uncover your forgotten self.

Not that I didn't like the stories in this book: it's great to see older people breaking down the stereotype.

I actually bought this book for my brother, (I thought I'd have a little read myself first) who at 52 is really searching for the next thing to put his energies into now that he's left his successful but unfulfilling first career behind. What he needs is a way of discovering his vocation, the thing that would delight and fulfil him.

I bought this as an alternative to the Sher books thinking they wouldn't be his cup of tea, but i don't think I'll give this book to him after all. I think I'll give him Wishcraft.

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