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Book Review: 11 Rules for Life by Chetan Bhagat

Writer Smita Das Jain reviews the book '11 Rules For Life: Secrets to Level Up' by Chetan Bhagat.

Writer Smita Das Jain reviews 11 Rules For Life: Secrets to Level Up by Chetan Bhagat


As an ardent admirer of Chetan Bhagat's work, I approached "11 Rules for Life" with a blend of anticipation and curiosity, unsure of what to expect from his venture into the realm of self-help. However, what I discovered within the pages of this book was a journey of introspection, inspiration, and profound personal growth.


In his own words, Bhagat describes this book as an attempt to "adapt," marking his first foray into the self-help genre. And indeed, he delivers, offering readers a unique blend of self-help and memoir that sets this book apart from others in its category. Unlike traditional self-help books, Bhagat flips the order, weaving personal anecdotes and fictional storytelling into a narrative that is as insightful as it is entertaining.


The book unfolds through a series of encounters between Bhagat and a disillusioned delivery boy named Viraj (underscoring the benefits of reading fiction), each chapter offering a new rule for navigating life's complexities. While some rules- such as 'Never ignore your fitness' and 'Master Simple English' may seem deceptively simple at first glance, others like 'No Cheap Dopamine' and 'Be the Cockroach,' offer fresh perspectives that challenge conventional wisdom. Bhagat imbues each lesson with depth and nuance, encouraging readers to reflect on their own values and beliefs.


What struck me most about "11 Rules for Life" is Bhagat's ability to distill complex ideas into simple, relatable concepts. Through his trademark conversational style and everyday language, he tackles topics such as inequality, resilience, and personal responsibility with clarity and depth. As a reader and writer, I found myself nodding along to his insights, recognizing the universal truths hidden within his words.


Sample some of my favourite lines from the book to see what I meant above:


  1. People don't find inequality unjust when they are the ones with the unfair advantage.

  2. Fitness will help you build the ability to endure pain and give up pleasure, which is a phenomenal power in life.

  3. If you want to chase your happiness, your success and your dreams, your life has to be about you.

  4. Being a good boyfriend at eighteen isn't the same as being a good husband at thirty-eight.

  5. Not every connection will pay off.

  6. That's why you need a lot of them.


However, it is important to note that the book's pacing may be a stumbling block for some readers. Personally, I found the first half of the book to be somewhat slow-paced, with the narrative meandering through introductory concepts and anecdotes. It wasn't until the second half of the rule set that the book truly found its stride, with Bhagat diving into more complex and thought-provoking topics.


Despite this initial sluggishness, "11 Rules for Life" ultimately delivers on its promise of inspiration and guidance. Yet, what truly sets this book apart is the author sharing his vulnerability with the readers. Bhagat lays bare his own struggles and insecurities, inviting readers to join him on a journey of self-discovery and growth. His honesty and candour are refreshing, reminding us that even the most successful among us grapple with doubt and uncertainty. It takes a lot of courage for a person to bare his soul and secrets, and Bhagat has once again exhibited why he is different from the rest.


In conclusion, "11 Rules for Life" is not just a self-help book; it's a testament to the power of storytelling and the human capacity for change. With its unique blend of memoir and advice, it offers readers a roadmap for navigating life's challenges with courage and resilience. It's a powerful reminder that true fulfilment comes from within and that personal growth requires both courage and commitment.


My rating for the book is a resounding 4.5/5, with additional marks for Bhagat's courage in baring his soul to the world. If this book was an experiment from the writer, as a reader I will say this experiment has worked. Whether you're a longtime fan or new to his work, this book is a must-read for anyone seeking inspiration and guidance in today's complex world.


What if reality was a carefully crafted illusion, and every truth you thought you knew was a mirage?

                                                          Find Out in Twisted Tales and Turns



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