Rhianna's Reviews > The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
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May 28, 12

Read from May 09 to 28, 2012

This may be a crappy review since its going up via iPhone. Sorry.

First caveat: I work in research. A big part of my job is creating these habit loops and seeing if they can be altered or enhanced via medication.

Second caveat: I'm a nerd and love journal articles, scientific writing, and technical reading, even off the job.

Third caveat: I only got to chapter eight.

I honestly don't know what I was expecting. By far and large, when there's big buzz about a book I inevitably dislike it with very few exceptions. I was hoping for something smart and eye opening; a different, more personal take on habits and addiction (which is really what a habit is if you think about it), and I was let down mostly by the writing and anecdotes. I realize this book isn't intended for scientific review, but when there were so many teasing moments of talking about the research going on, I guess I just expected a little more substance in laymans terms.

The biggest problem I had with the book was that I probably could have only read the first few chapters and have a total grasp of the theory. While some stories were interesting, they reminded me of Grandpa Simpson's storytelling. I don't think we needed so many examples that all said the same thing. Think of all the trees that could have been saved if a few were omitted.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a bad read. People with a non-neuroscience background can enjoy it and will learn something from it. Although how to apply it to your life is pretty much missing from the book (unless it was in the chapters I didn't get to yet). Yeah, find a new reward to break bad habits, but how? It would have been interesting to see those suggestions.

Overall, not horrible. Had it not been a book club read I wouldn't have picked it up of my own volition, but I'm not upset that I read most of it. I am upset that I kept reading hoping to get something different in the next chapter, which didn't happen. Just save the time and money and read his NY Times article (at least I think it was there) instead.
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Reading Progress

05/25/2012 page 320
80.0% "Actually I don't know what page I'm really on-- Ch 8-- but I'm done. I can't keep reading this." 1 comment

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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message 1: by Jason (new)

Jason Rhianna wrote: "I was hoping for something smart and eye opening; a different, more personal take on habits and addiction (which is really what a habit is if you think about it), and I was let down mostly by the writing and anecdotes."

It's so funny you say that...when I read Outliers: The Story of Success, I felt exactly the same way, that it was just a bunch of anecdotal stories put together and my fear was that someone picking it up without a science background or at least an understanding of statistics would think Gladwell was proclaiming something profound, which he was not.

Are you going to read our other book club book? It was actually excellent, and we're not doing 2 picks anymore. For June, it's just one.


Rhianna Yes. I actually started that one first and then went to this one. I loved Man on Wire, so it's neat that it's part of this story too.


Danielle I think it was good for people like me who don't have experience with the subject matter, it's a good gate-way book. But that Target chapter is quite compelling, I read that in the NYT and picked up this book as soon as I could.


Patrick Rhianna,

Too bad you did not finish chapter 9 because he basically agreed with your thesis that a habit = addiction. I agree with you that all an addiction is a bad habit that destroys your life but not all habits do this.


Rhianna Patrick wrote: "Rhianna,

Too bad you did not finish chapter 9 because he basically agreed with your thesis that a habit = addiction. I agree with you that all an addiction is a bad habit that destroys your life ..."


Thanks for pointing that out. I may go back and read it as it's still in my iBooks, so perhaps it would be a good mind flush for 50 Shades of Grey.


Arda Aghazarian "While some stories were interesting, they reminded me of Grandpa Simpson's storytelling." HAH! I also recommend you to finish the book (maybe you have by now), but I somewhat agree with this review.


Lesley Keller You are correct that the how to apply the theory was illistrated with one of the writers personal food habits as the appendix. I recommend to anybody who just wants a clear working plan of how to change a habit in four steps, just read that and skip the stories that make the writing memorable for most readers.


message 8: by Vis (new) - added it

Vis "Although how to apply it to your life is pretty much missing from the book (unless it was in the chapters I didn't get to yet)."

I'm going to guess that it's covered in the last chapter, because that's usually how these sorts of books are structured.


message 9: by Meghann (new) - added it

Meghann Van Dolzer Rhianna, is there a book on the subject that does get more into the research and neuroscience?


Anakana Schofield What a smart review! I barely made it past chapter 4. The Grandpa Simpson storytelling was insufferable and it was too leger on the neuroscience for me. Would love to hear your recommendations for something stronger on the brain science. Also the writing was weak and those endless diagrams annoying.


Cherith Gray Yeah also found the stories a bit much. Would have loved less examples and more hard advice or evidence. Going to try The Willpower Instinct next - from what I can see, that looks a bit more substantial.


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