I hesitated to rate this book at all because I have very mixed feelings about it (for now I'll just go for middle-of-the-road rating of three). At timI hesitated to rate this book at all because I have very mixed feelings about it (for now I'll just go for middle-of-the-road rating of three). At times I thought Fletcher came off as pretentious and condescending, yet at other times he cracked me up. I often related to Fletcher because, like him, I experience obsessions without any outward compulsions. A few parts are very graphic, and while I appreciate that Fletcher tried to show non-OCD people what it's like to lose control of your thoughts, it was a bit too much for me because I have trouble getting those kind of images out of my head. Nevertheless I commend Fletcher for putting himself out there. ...more
The authors do a very good job of explaining their research to laypeople, and their work makes a lot of sense. There isn't necessarily anything earth-The authors do a very good job of explaining their research to laypeople, and their work makes a lot of sense. There isn't necessarily anything earth-shattering, I don't think, but they do offer some good strategies for dealing with bad thoughts and strengthening positive thinking. Of course, as with any self-help book, their plan won't single-handedly revolutionize the mind of someone with a serious mental problem, but it probably can help people with mild anxiety or compulsive behavior, and it could be helpful as part of a bigger treatment plan for someone with a serious issue....more
Why is it just so hard to change bad habits? This book attempts to answer this question and, more importantly, teach readers how to use the brain chemWhy is it just so hard to change bad habits? This book attempts to answer this question and, more importantly, teach readers how to use the brain chemistry that creates bad habits to make good ones instead. The authors present six "sources of influence"--personal motivation (what we want and why); personal ability (our natural strengths and weaknesses); social motivation (how others' beliefs influence us); social ability (how the things other people do affect us); structural motivation (how things motivate us); and structural ability (how our environment affects us). There are strategies for putting each of these sources of influence to work to create good habits instead of bad ones.
I am usually skeptical of this kind of book, but I really got a lot of out this one. I even took some notes from it before returning it to the library. I like that it focuses on changing the way we react to our natural tendencies and things outside of our control instead of completely avoiding them altogether. It's a much more realistic approach. There are some things in here that I already knew, but I like the way they are phrased. For instance, every self-help book says not to beat yourself up for setbacks. This book says the same thing in a different way: "Turn bad moments into good data." The authors explain that without mistakes we would have nothing to learn from, and when we examine the slip-ups and learn from them, we are even better off than before we messed up. When you look at it that way, it makes mistakes seem almost helpful without accepting the behavior as a whole. My only complaint is that there is more cheesiness than I like, though much less than most of the similar books I've read. Overall, though, this is a clear, well-organized book that gave me some motivation to take charge of my habits and routines. ...more
Before "Beautiful Boy," I read and enjoyed Nic Sheff’s memoir "Tweak" about his struggle with meth. I liked his father’s version of the story even morBefore "Beautiful Boy," I read and enjoyed Nic Sheff’s memoir "Tweak" about his struggle with meth. I liked his father’s version of the story even more. I like his writing style—this man obviously knows how to use words, and it makes his voice feel incredibly real. He goes into just enough detail to demonstrate how devastating addiction is without getting too gross or repeating himself as he chronicled Nic’s repeated disasters. I’m not a parent, but I feel that this is a book that would comfort any parents whose child is going through something difficult. ...more
Every day, we do thousands of things out of habit, even without realizing it. Without habits, our minds would be overwhelmed with mundane decision makEvery day, we do thousands of things out of habit, even without realizing it. Without habits, our minds would be overwhelmed with mundane decision making. Still, habits can be a disadvantage when we get into a routine that is bad for us, whether it's personally, physically, or professionally. Duhigg argues that in order to change our habits, we have to understand how they work. He does a good job of explaining that, with plenty of examples from all kinds of situations. He makes it all easy to understand. I do wish there were more practical suggestions for changing habits, though. The focus is definitely on how our brains work when it comes to habits, not on what to do about it. Duhigg is right; it's useful knowledge, and sometimes just being aware of what your brain is doing can help you get out of a bad routine. For more entrenched habits, however, a little more is needed. Still, this is an interesting and useful book that make me more conscious of the things I do without thinking. ...more
The title of this book pretty much sums it up. The book asks: Why are we so fascinated by evil, death, scandal, and other dark parts of life? What doeThe title of this book pretty much sums it up. The book asks: Why are we so fascinated by evil, death, scandal, and other dark parts of life? What does this say about human nature? To answer these questions, Wilson consults biologists, sociologists, and psychologists, and also relates stories and examples from his own experience. He shares several different theories. The traditional idea is that we all have a good side and a bad side; horror movies and gossip allow us to indulge our bad sides in (relatively) harmless ways. Wilson, however, concludes that there is value in the darkness itself, because without it goodness has no meaning.
I just couldn't get into this book. The subject is really interesting, but it jumps around too much for me. It seems like Wilson is just randomly listing thoughts, with info from other sources thrown around to emphasize his points. There are a few good ideas, but a lot of it is repetitive. It wasn't a total waste of time, but I don't think I'll be recommending it to anyone. ...more
This is an extremely compelling, heartbreaking memoir. Nic spares none of the gory details, which can be sickening but are also very interesting. He'sThis is an extremely compelling, heartbreaking memoir. Nic spares none of the gory details, which can be sickening but are also very interesting. He's honest about why the drugs appealed to him at first and how they helped him escape from his problems but ultimately ruined his life. Throughout his struggle, Nic learns (and shares with us readers) how to deal with the parts of himself and his life that he was unhappy with, a process that was absolutely crucial to his recovery. Though I can't relate to Nic's drug use, there are a lot of other parts of his story that I do understand. He writes about feeling lonely and isolated, without the skills to cope with things like most people. As he puts it, it's like everyone in the world got some sort of how-to manual that he never received. I can definitely relate to that, in my "Ahhhh, I suck at life!" moments. I think everyone has felt like that at some point--though maybe some of us more than others ;). Overall, definitely a book worth reading....more
I tend to be skeptical of those "here's how to get happy" books, but for some reason I sometimes end up reading them anyway. Not because I necessarilyI tend to be skeptical of those "here's how to get happy" books, but for some reason I sometimes end up reading them anyway. Not because I necessarily don't feel happy, but I guess I feel like you can never be too happy, you know? This one has several good points, but I'd heard a lot of the material before. On the other hand, I liked that the author cites the research to support his claims and provides practical suggestions for putting the ideas to use. For instance, I already knew that exercise and doing nice things for others makes people feel happy, but he lists some specific ways to do each of those things and uses research to demonstrate how much these things help and why they make us feel good. "Happy" is less cheesy than most similar books are, though it does have a few parts that made groan. Overall, I think this book was worth reading for the few things I got out of it, but it's not going to change my life or anything....more
Abby's story was really interesting to me, due to my own obsessive-compulsive and anorexic tendencies. It was fascinating to compare the way she thougAbby's story was really interesting to me, due to my own obsessive-compulsive and anorexic tendencies. It was fascinating to compare the way she thought when she was sick to the way I did. Sometimes I felt like her thoughts came straight from my own head, and other times she sounded crazy to me. There are a few parts that seemed a bit dull and dry to me, but overall, I enjoyed it and it made me think. ...more
Friedman's story was especially interesting to me, considering my own background. As I was reading, I often felt like I was looking into my own mind.Friedman's story was especially interesting to me, considering my own background. As I was reading, I often felt like I was looking into my own mind. I wish that she had written more about her recovery, though, and had included fewer rambling trains of thought that didn't seem to go anywhere. ...more