Book Review: My Journey


Once in a while, you come across a book that will make you ponder about the life you have lived – about everything you have learnt and done; and this thought process might trigger a self introspection of your being. This book did that for me – it had me thinking about my journey, things that I could have done better and how I can start making little changes that would make me a better person and take a step closer to achieving my dreams.

Dreams are not those that we see in our sleep; they should be the ones that never let us sleep“.

This powerful sentence which makes its appearance in the introduction of My Journey by India’s beloved people’s president, paves way to pages filled with the most humble accounts of his life and the journey from that of a small town boy to Missile Man and finally a place at the most honorable office in India, while never loosing sight of the small town qualities that made him a man like no other. The book explores various subjects such as the connection between science and religion, the relationship between knowledge and a formal education and the importance of love, family, the influence of teachers and mentors and other factors that go into the making of a truly successful individual.

The book has been structured in a manner that lets the reader believe that he is a part of the most important phases of Mr. Kalam’s life, as young Abdul makes the transition from a boy with dreams of flying with the birds to that of a rocket engineer. In the first few chapters, Kalam sir talks about his simple life in the idyllic town of Rameswaram – his narration about the town, his family and the qualities that are drilled into him as a child such as the importance of hard work, discipline, empathy for others, the power of prayer, dealing with success and failures and most importantly – bouncing back from failures, will definitely keep readers glued to the book while they pick up some life lessons from his experiences. Kalam sir’s life is an excellent  example of what someone can do when they continue to trod on their chosen path despite all the obstacles that life can throw in their way to realize their dreams.

Of course, the success of any individual is never possible without being in the right place at the right time or having the right people to guide and mentor them. It seems that in Mr. Kalam’s case, destiny took care of both these aspects. But his humility shines through in the chapters where he mentions all his teachers, friends and mentors starting from his family and friends, his teachers from school’s at Rameswaram and Thiruvanthapuram, his professors at MIT and later Mr. Vikram Sarabhai and his colleagues with whom he collaborated on various projects. I cannot help but quote these lines from the book as I felt that they are probably the most important management lessons  in the simplest of words for leaders and managers everywhere.

“When we obtain positions of power over others, we believe that we have reached the pinnacle of success. But it is at this time that we need to look back and be aware of the multitudes on whose hard work and sacrifices we have built our castles” If only many can understand and follow this, wouldn’t all aspects of our lives  be  better?

An entire chapter has been devoted to his love for books and his firm belief that ones powers of understanding and reasoning are honed by good reading habits. His spirituals thoughts and reasoning are reflected clearly as he quotes appropriate lines from the Koran, Geetha and the Bible, while the poet in him makes an appearance when you least expect it.

The language of the book is simple and gives you a feeling that you are just having a conversation with a wise man over high tea. The book is a personal account of Mr. Kalam’s life – I couldn’t suppress my smile as he spoke about how people of our nation were curious about his single status or why he chose his now iconic hairstyle! This could be me or you. His earnestness in sharing what he thinks might be of use to the others comes across in every page.

The book with eye catching art work to mark each chapter is a short read (at about 147 pages) and definitely a fast paced one. It is my sincere belief that this book should be a part of the education syllabus in schools all over India as it will truly inspire and motivate young Indians. That said, I also feel that this book must be must be savored and read slowly and if possible, in a quiet room with a calm mind and maybe a cup of tea. The end of every chapter should be accompanied by some kind of self retrospection – this would mark the success of Mr Kalam’s journey.

A must read for all Indians!!

Title: My Journey – Transforming Dreams Into Actions
Author: Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam
Publisher: Rupa Publications India
Pages: 147
Genre: Non-Fiction/ Autobiography
Rating: 5 of 5
Reviewed for: Publisher

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