BOOKS Real people make changes in 'A Matter of Choice'

Self-help: 'A Matter of Choice: 25 People Who Transformed Their Lives,' Joan Chatfield-Taylor, editor.
"A Matter of Choice: 25 People Who Transformed Their Lives," Joan Chatfield-Taylor, editor; Seal Press ($14.95 paperback)
Gina Hyams and her family sold everything and moved to Mexico for four years. Now they're back, finding their way in a California city that no longer feels quite like home. Smith College-educated writer Liz Seymour -- you might have seen her work in Traditional Home magazine -- moved into an anarchist collective. The contributors to this collection of essays about big life changes made their leaps at various stages of life and career.
Tales of change
Ken Hruby did 21 years in the military, then became a sculptor. In her first job out of college, Li Miao Lovett found only the trappings of success. So she changed course and has done so several times since. There are no bullet point checklists and few epiphanies here. These are tales of evolutionary change -- what can happen, as Pulitzer-Prize winner Alice Steinbach writes, following the realization that "too much of life -- my life, anyway -- seemed to be aimed at achieving success and avoiding failure."
Chatfield-Taylor includes too many professional writers in the mix. But none of her essayists are rich or famous, so there's none of that "I made a gazillion and you should, too" boastfulness that so often saps inspirational writing. They're just like your neighbors but more open to curiosity and the unknown.

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