Books in Brief: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Welcome to Books in Brief. Every week for a while I'll be working through the growing stack of excellent books on my desk and sharing a few brief thoughts on why you might like them. Each little post will follow the same basic format, which I hope will help you decide quickly and comfortably whether each book is right for you or someone in your life.
Up this week: New York Times bestseller The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business by award-winning business journalist Charles Duhigg.
Old habits dragging you down? With a little hard work, they don’t have to. Learn just how much we already know about habits and how to change them — it’s kind of a shocking amount! — and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a modern-day superhero. (You can be an ironic one if that suits you better. No judgment.) Given how many of our habits, good and bad, are food-related, this book has a lot to offer those of us who try to make smart decisions about what we eat.
The dirty details
This is one of my favorite kinds of books: a well-researched self-help guide clevery disguised as a smart social science book for mainstream audiences (and thereby made socially acceptable). The storytelling is so skillful and engaging that it actually made me interested in the results of a football game for the course of a couple of paragraphs. (If you know me at all, even just as a casual reader, you know what a feat this is.)
It also made my eyes tear up a surprising amount and in surprising circumstances, like learning how Paul O’Neill turned around an aluminum manufacturer in distress. Not exactly your typical tear jerker, but that didn’t stop me one bit.
You had me at...
“Habits are powerful, but delicate. They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed. They often occur without our permission, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts. They shape our lives far more han we realize — they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.”