Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 May 2019

Member Reviews

The Dial Press and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss.  I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

P.R. Chandrasekhar, a professor of economics at Cambridge, has reached a crucial point in his life. His professional career has always taken precedence over his family and now it seems that he has failed at both.  Passed up once again for the Nobel Prize, Professor Chandra is unsure as to how to move forward.  When an accident precipitates a change, will Chandra come to some realizations about his life and about how to fix what has gone wrong?

At almost 70 years of age, Chandra comes to his mid-life crisis a little late in life.  The way he interacts with those around him, both family and stranger alike, gives Chandra a not very likable quality.  There are some good lessons that readers can take away, though, especially regarding relationships and personal success.  I did not really find Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss to be charming or uplifting; in fact, it was kind of depressing that a man who spent his whole life striving for more was so misunderstood by those around him.  Not one person in Chandra's life stopped to think or inquire as to his actions.  The book picked up a little in the last quarter, but it was not enough to elevate the novel higher than average.  Readers who like books about dysfunctional families and their relationships may find Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss to their liking.
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I picked up this title because it was described as a humorous book and I am sorry to say I did not find it funny at all.  That said, it was still a worthwhile read.  The plot is basically about a man's midlife crisis (if you can call it that at age 70).  I was a relief and a pleasure to follow Professor Chandra's evolution.
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This is one of the best books I have read all year. Five stars! Chandra is a 69 year old  Nobel prize hopeful. He is a strange from most of his family. This is about Chandra‘s journey to find himself and reunite with his family. It is funny, I mean laugh out loud funny, it is heart breaking,  yet this book always leaves us with hope. I cannot thank you enough for my copy of this book. As I finish this review I plan to look for another one of this authors books. I will definitely be recommending this author to all my friends and family.
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This book could be loosely compared to A Man Called Øve. Like Øve, it appears to be a light read about an old curmudgeon whose life is falling apart.
As in Øve, There is much, much more going on in this narrative.
The author presents a cast of deeply flawed, yet deeply ‘normal’ characters.
Chandra has made a mess of family life, has been overlooked for the Nobel Prize in economics, and realizes that he is a failure as a human being.
Gradually, after, a few days at a retreat in California, he begins to rekindle his relationships with his children and ex-wife.
There is a depth in this book, savour it.
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"Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss" joins a small shelf of recent novels about lovable misanthropes. If you enjoyed "A Man Called Ove" or "Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand," this book will likely also appeal to you. Rajeev Balasubramanyam introduces us to Professor Chandra, a world-famous professor and author who is considered a favorite for the Nobel Prize in economics. While a stranger might believe that Chandra has everything a man could wish for (family, meaningful work, accolades, a nice house, etc.) the truth is that his life is falling apart. He's recently divorced, and one of his children isn't speaking to him. His colleagues and students fear him. When an accident leaves him in the hospital around his 70th birthday, Chandra takes stock and realizes he must make some changes.
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41/4 stars 
 
I really struggled with writing this review because I had so many mixed emotions about this book, that’s why it took me so long to get it up and available.  The best way to start is to dive in.   
 
I was given an ARC by NetGalley to review shortly before the book was to be published.  I thought it would be a fairly quick read, the synopsis came off as being very light hearted and fun.  I figured I would be reading about an old curmudgeon who made you laugh with his cranky old ways, that found out life isn’t so bad if you stop being such a turd.  I was wrong.   
The synopsis was very misleading.  Professor Chandra had some much deeper and more serious  problems than I expected.  You find out that this man is very much like the rest of us, dealing with divorce, difficult parental relations with his daughters and son, personal and professional shortcomings, social inadequacies and mostly just difficulty in understanding himself.   
Not the lighthearted easy read I was expecting.   But I continued on…….. 
 
I hit a road block at chapter 3.  I was wondering to myself if I was going to possibly not finish this book.  I felt like it wasn’t progressing fast enough for me, and I found my mind straying elsewhere.  Fortunately I’ve always vowed to finish the books I have started, I feel this obligation to the author to give them an honest review, and I am glad I did.   After Chapter 3, things got right back on track, and I progressed through the rest of the book rather quickly.   I became invested in Professor Chandra and wanted to see how he was going to handle how things were developing.  I would be misrepresenting myself if I didn’t stop here and tell you that I wasn’t blown away with the whole idea of the workshop that Professor Chandra attended.  It’s not that I don’t believe in that type of stuff, its just that I felt that the author was really overselling the topics of “zen” and “spirituality in the workplace” but then I checked out his website and found that this was something that he does (sidebar:  he is a fellow for writers with a meditation practice), so then I understood his purpose.   Still, its not my thing.   
 
Overall, I really appreciate the way the author tackled all the difficult topics he wrote about, all of which are quite relevant of the world we live in today.  In my opinion he was spot on with how he handled some of these situations, and some of them I would be willing to adopt into my own relationships.   
 
So in the past week this book has been on my mind a lot.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. It was heavier than I expected, but seemed to resonate with me more than I thought it would.   When a book does that, it deserves a good review, because it left you with some sort of feeling…..whatever that feeling was.  
And guess what?  In the end I walked away with the lighthearted feeling I was hoping to get when I started.  It was just a different journey than when I expected.
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I so needed this one! Such a beautiful story. I was having a difficult time dealing with a reading slump but this book took care of that. This might be my go-to book when I need a pick-me-up. Definitely recommend.
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Professor Chandra’s depressed and alone: his ex-wife’s remarried, their children are distant, and he didn’t win the Nobel Prize (again). But a heart attack forces the 69-year-old economist to take a break, and a stint at a self-awareness retreat makes him wonder if joy, laughter and play—things he derided in his children—are what give life meaning. Enlightening.
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Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss follows Professor Chandra, a nearly 70-year-old economics professor/grump who doesn't receive the Nobel Prize.....again. Finding himself in the hospital after an accident, he follows a colleague's advice to take a break from work (inconceivable to Chandra), to follow his bliss. 
As you read this story, you also get to know Chandra's ex-wife, Jean, his three children, and other interesting characters along the way. At first I felt unconnected from both Chandra and the story, as I found Chandra to be unlikeable..... at first. As Chandra goes on his spiritual(?) journey to find what really makes him happy, he transforms into a character you root for in the end. I give this book 3.5 stars!
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I really enjoyed being a part of Professor Chandra's journey as he 'found his bliss.'  Chandra is a 69 year old renowned economics professor at Cambridge who, at the start of the book, learns that he didn't win a hoped for Nobel prize.  As he receives multiple  condolences on his lack of winning the wanted prize, he is at one point is  told to 'follow his bliss.'  I was expecting a journey of humorous self-discovery and joy.  That's not this book; this book is deeper than that and more real.  Chandra works to reconnect with his children and figure out his own meaning (if it's not to win the Nobel prize).  One child is still in high school, living with his ex-wife in Colorado, and having some growing pains.  Another is living in Hong Kong, also working in the field of economics.  Chandra's not sure where his third child is because they had a falling out a while back.  He really reflects on his life, his priorities, and his connections, making a sincere effort to shift his personal story and journey.  I found Chandra's interactions and self-reflection to be engaging and worthy of reading..  It's not light- hearted, but it is hopeful and there are definitely moments that made me smile.
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I had high hopes for Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss, but I was disappointed. What I thought would be a humorous, relatively light-hearted book was really a satire where author Ravjeev Balasubramanyam mocks American culture and perhaps empirically proves you can't teach an old dog a new trick.

Chandra is not a lovable curmudgeon like those found in A Man Called Ove or The Charming Life of Arthur Pepper. He is self-centered and pompous. He alienated his wife and children with his singular focus on his aspirations for world recognition of his belief in his brilliance. His ex-wife, Jean, and their children aren’t any more likable. Steve—Jean’s new husband—is the tool through which author Balasubramanyam pokes fun of what he perceives to be modern America. While Steve and his compatriots at the Esalen Institute are accepting and somewhat likable characters, Chandra and his estranged family are a mess of judgment and self-absorption.

From the synopsis, I thought this book would be funny, but it wasn’t.  I was looking forward to quirky characters and a madcap journey to enlightenment.  Instead I got stiff characters and flat "adventures".  There were bits that were mildly amusing, but they didn't really grabbed me. Chandra is too pedantic to ever find “his bliss”. Yet the author wants his readers to believe that a few days spent at Esalen in hot tub therapy leads his stereotypical main character to enlightenment. However, Chandra shows little in the way of epiphanic metamorphosis. The inadequate exploration of Chandra’s relationships with his offspring and their continuing discord was dissatisfying.

Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss shows off the author’s knowledge--or research--of the study of economics, and the book seemingly reflects the author’s view of Americans. It did present some meaty family issues, but the story fell flat in terms of addressing those familial conflicts. Perhaps that is more realistic, but it wasn’t particularly satisfying. Sadly, unsatisfying is probably the best descriptor for this book.
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When Emeritus Professor P.R. Chandrasekhar misses out on the Nobel Prize for Economics (again), it really doesn't improve his mood. Faced with complaints from his students, an unfortunate run-in with a bicycle and a silent heart attack, the Cambridge Don takes heed of his College Master's advice that it might be a good time to take a sabbatical. So he organises a gig as Distinguished Visiting Professor at UC Bella Vista in California. Apart from the health benefits of spending time in the sun, he looks forward to being just a short flight away from his youngest daughter, the teenaged Jasmine, who lives with her mother in Colorado.

It all goes well until Chandra visits Boulder for Jasmine's graduation and he finds himself landing an entirely uncharacteristic punch on the nose of his ex-wife's smarmy psychologist husband, Steve. To keep the embarrassing secret from Jean, Chandra allows himself to be coerced into attending a workshop - Being Yourself in the Summer Solstice - at a spiritual retreat in California where Steve has connections. Of course, it's really not his thing, but he goes along and finds himself starting to question and understand his own happiness.

This is really just the start of what is essentially a different kind of family dramedy. I loved the character of Chandra. He's clearly from the curmudgeon mould, but he's frighteningly relatable and his desire to improve himself and his relationships makes you just want to cheer him on. He actually has three children in total (2 older than Jasmine) and different problems with each of them, which he slowly but clumsily starts to unravel as his self-awareness grows. This leads to various comic and/or touching moments.

In terms of plot, I really liked that Chandra's turning point came from attending a spiritual workshop, because, let's face it, characters like this don't just magically wake up enlightened one day! And although this is nothing like a self-help book masquerading as a novel, there was stuff in that workshop that really made me stop and think - not just about Chandra, but about myself as well. It wasn't groundbreaking, but for me it was certainly thought-provoking. Partly for this reason, as soon as I finished reading this book I thought I'd probably be happy to re-read it at some point in the future.
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What a great book for book clubs! Professor Chandra and his Cambridge colleagues thought he would get the 2016 Nobel Prize in economics, but on announcement day he’s passed over; put on furlough for calling a female student an imbecile; run into by a bicyclist, and finds out he's had a silent heart attack. He spends his 70th birthday alone: rich, respected, divorced, and mostly estranged from his kids. He has moments of kindness to protégées, but he's a grumpy old man. His son is rich from telling people how to succeed in business through affirmations, his oldest daughter is a radical and doesn’t talk to him anymore, and his ex lives in Boulder with her psychologist husband and the youngest daughter, a high school senior who gets involved with drugs. This allows Chandra to escape from the mess of his life in England. He goes to Boulder in attempt to fix his daughter. Professor Chandra is not a likeable dude—until he punches laid-back Steve ("Kids experiment!") in the nose, and Steve manipulates him into a weekend retreat at Esalen. "Being Who You Are at Summer Solstice" is not where or who Chandra wants to be, but he starts asking some questions and observing himself. Conservative intellectual meets emotional woo-woo, and the humor and growth begin. It’s challenging to read about your country from a foreigner’s viewpoint, just as it’s challenging to see yourself through someone else’s eyes—and yet modernity has shown us we’re all more alike than different, adopting what pleases us and complaining about the rest. So much fodder for book club exploration and talk: generational, cultural, political and societal divides, with heart and humor the only options for authentic connection. This is really a story of coming to an accommodation with an ever-changing, confusing world, coming to terms with life as an elder. I’d love to know what other folks think about it, too: the best kind of book club book. Recommended! 
(Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a digital review copy!)
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Rating:   3 stars

Oh Professor Chandra, I had such high hopes that we’d go on a wonderful, humorous, light-hearted journey together.   Alas, it did not turn out that way for me.  You made me feel your angst about the disconnectedness you had from your children, and your annual disappointment about not winning the Nobel Prize in Economics.  But the journey you embarked on to reach out to the family, and the forks in the road you took along the way turned out to be not all that interesting to me.   Sadly, I think that I may have been misled by some of the comments on the book blurb, and early reviews.  I liked the journey, but I was just not *that* in to it.

I met 69-year-old, irascible, Professor Chandra in Oxford, England.  He is a renowned Economics professor and author.  As we meet, he has yet again gotten his hopes up about winning the Nobel Prize, only to have them come crashing down when some upstart economist wins instead.  He’s worked so hard all his life to attain this final pinnacle of his career.  He eventually lost his marriage and three his children due to his devotion to his work.  He almost lost his life too due to this singular focus.   After his accident, his doctor strongly suggests that he change his ways and try to follow ‘his bliss’.   He has no idea what that means.

So begins Chandra’s journey .  First he teaches college for a semester in Los Angeles.  He tries to help his 17-year-old daughter in Colorado. In the process, he is challenged by his ex-wife’s rather too smarmy new husband to attend a new-age seminar at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.  Amazingly, he does go to the Esalen retreat.  Then the story moves to Hong Kong to visit with his adult son, and finally on to a monastery in Colorado where he tries to bring all the family together including his adult daughter, Radha, who hasn’t spoken to him in years.   

I felt like there were too many pages spent on the group workshop at Esalen.  Each new experience opens him up to the world, and his children in a different way. But there was too much time devoted to the navel gazing of this group of strangers at Esalen.  Maybe there was just too much angst, and family drama, to live up what I believed the book had been billed as.

The writing was good, but as I said, some of the segments were just too long for me.   I was looking for more humor and levity in this book.   For those readers looking for a book about a self-awareness journey with some funny lines and observations sprinkled here and there, this could be the perfect book for you.  For me it was a 3 star read.  

‘Thank-You’ to NetGalley; the publisher, The Dial Press (Random House Publishing Group); and the author, Rajeev Balasubramanyam; for providing a free e-ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Chandra would be, in the eyes of most, one of the most successful economists in the world- but he's never won the Nobel Prize.  More importantly, he's lost his family as a result of his single minded focus on self and career.  A bike accident and advice from a doctor sets him off to the US to find himself and renew his relationship with his teenage daughter Jaz.  This isn't a road trip novel, as you might imagine from the cover and the blurbs, it's about personal discovery and recovery.  Chandra is definitely in the category of arrogant too-smart-for-his-own good so his early meditations on life and his family are less warm and more pointed.  His travels, however, enlighten him in ways that surprise him.  It takes a while for him to get it.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  This is a good read for those who like family stories.
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This lovely little novel packs a much bigger punch than it's cover, blurb, or title would suggest.  It does have the humor and lightheartedness that is implied, but there is some sneaky hidden gems in this one about life, family, self awareness, forgiveness and love.  A wonderful book.
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Many thanks to NetGalley, Dial Press, and Rajeev Balasubramanyam for the opportunity to read and review this book - I really liked it.  

Professor Chandra is an economics professor at Cambridge and has just been passed over yet again for the Nobel Prize.  He's divorced and his wife is remarried and living in Colorado with their youngest daughter.  His oldest daughter doesn't speak to him or even allow the rest of the family to tell him where she is.  Chandra has a somewhat contentious relationship with his son as well.  When he has a bicycle accident and lands in the hospital, the doctor tells him he needs to take time off to rest.  With that in mind, he decides to head to the US.  There he is forced to confront himself and his life's decisions.

While there is some humor in this book, I think it could be best described as a coming-of-age novel for grown-ups, as you look back on your life and see your mistakes and hope it's not too late to make changes.
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Noted economist, Professor Chandra, Charles, Chandrasekhar, Dad.

Chandra has spent his whole life single-mindedly pursuing success, and it isn’t until he is nearly 70 years old that he is forced to confront the question of what exactly that means.  Divorced from his wife, unsuccessful in his quest for a Noble Prize, estranged from his children, and beginning to experience the health problems, he comes face to face with himself in new and uncomfortable ways.  

Funny and at the same time poignant, Chandra’s path to enlightenment is heart-felt and a great deal of fun.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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This is a book about an economics professor who tries to find the answer to what makes us happy. I really enjoyed this book although the end felt a tad rushed. I liked the professor even though he could be tedious at times. It was a good read. 

I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
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I read this because I was hoping for a lighter book. I routinely read so many books with heavy subject matter by choice, but I thought this would be a nice reprieve. While there is humor to be found here, it’s not what I would call a light read. There are some real issues to think about here - a broken family, a sad lonely man who has put himself and his career before his family and now feels like a failure in his career as well. I’m an outlier here since there are so many 4 and 5 star reviews. I can’t say I loved this story. The main theme - a older man reaches a point in his life where he does some soul searching and has regrets about the man he has been and is seeking to change and perhaps redeem himself for all of the things that he didn’t give his family. I didn’t find it to be original as there are so many stories covering the regrets people feel later in life about lost chances.

While there were times when I felt sorry for Professor Chandra, I didn’t like him very much. He tries to figure out how he has failed with his children. Truth be known, they weren’t perfect and I didn’t like them very much either. Chandra has an accident which is the impetus for him to begin thinking about his life. He ends up attending a retreat at the recommendation of his ex wife’s husband called  “Being Yourself in the Summer Solstice”. The group sessions where you bare your soul and get advice from others who are having issues of their own and where you actually bare your body sitting naked in the hot tubs having discussions felt contrived . He leaves after three days and is enlightened, but this self-help meditation, group thing just didn’t work for me. As I said, even though the story didn’t feel new to me, there are some real family issues that a lot of readers will relate to. You should read the 4 and 5 star reviews. 

I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House/The Dial Press through NetGalley.
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