Book Review:
Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work
By: Dave Isay


Callings: The Purpose and Passion of Work, is a touching and insightful collection of stories about work, from people across every field and corner of the country, who simply love what they do.

Published in 2016, Callings is the fifth book from the non-profit production organization StoryCorps and its founder Dave Isay. The mission of StoryCorps is to record, preserve and share the vast experiences of humanity as a way to contribute to a more compassionate and
connected world. The StoryCorps archive is comprised of interviews with over 500,000 people; the emerging theme of work and its integral part in people’s lives became an undeniable thread for Isay to follow, as he himself captured the spark he felt as a child and turned his passion into both his
professional and personal mission.

A typical story, as seen in Callings, is conducted in an interview format between two individuals who have some level of personal connection to one another. Every story presented in the book is a condensed version of the original 40-minute recorded interview, carefully edited to preserve
the impact. In this collection, no two paths are the same, each with its own challenges, triumphs, and beauty.

A Bridgetender shares her view from her booth, as she watches the cars, bikes, and seasons pass, while often going unnoticed herself. She observes the slightest changes in the world and appreciates the stubborn static. She left her corporate job, and with that, a generous pay, to
explore her curiosity and pursue a slower, more Zen existence.

An Ink Removal Specialist finds purpose in the people she meets, particularly the young women who walk through her doors after escaping abusive situations, which she herself knows all too well. Her work provides clients freedom from the painful reminders stained on their skin.

The OB-GYN, who delivered Isay’s children and inspired the initial idea for Callings, shares her dedication to her patients. In twelve years, she has yet to take a single vacation, let alone a day off. She made the commitment to deliver every single one of her patient’s babies, even if that meant missing the opportunity to say goodbye to her dying father. Callings is a motivating window into the diverse lives of others and their unique work and reveal the humanity that seeps into every professional path. The collection reflects on how the meaning of work can expand far beyond its core function and serve as an opportunity for a tru sense of purpose to emerge. The storytellers demonstrate a commitment to themselves in their pursuit of fulfillment, healing, and joy. Through each heartfelt and honest account is the flame of passion that leaves the reader feeling they have no choice but to follow their own.