sleeps9hours'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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Jul 17, 2012

it was ok
Read in June, 2012

I just read Kelly McGonigal's "The Willpower Instinct", so I can't help but compare the two.

Duhigg is an investigative reporter for the NY Times, while McGonigal is a research psychologist, and the differences come across in the writing. McGonigal has a much better grasp on the research and how to apply it, while Duhigg brings in stories that are entertaining but stretch his powers of interpretation. His most annoying stylistic problem is that he breaks his stories up, stopping one to start another and then coming back to it later. I assume he's trying to add a sense of anticipation and drama to what should otherwise be a straightforward nonfiction book, but I found it frustrating for him to be jumping back and forth for no good reason.

I did enjoy many of his stories though. The most interesting was in the section about social habits where he explains why the arrest of Rosa Parks was so influential while other black women at the same time had also refused to give up their seats but didn't spark much interest (Parks had social ties across dozens of groups, black and white, and knew some people of influence). The entire story of how Martin Luther King, Jr. became involved, and all the people who got the bus boycott rolling is so fascinating to hear in detail.
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Reading Progress

02/06 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-22 of 22) (22 new)

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Mutasim Makeen I 2nd that


message 2: by Harsh (new)

Harsh Can you tell me which book i should read first out of these two, Power of habits and The willpower instict.


sleeps9hours I would say The Willpower Instinct. That way you'll have a better understanding of the theory before taking on a more applied book.


message 4: by Harsh (new)

Harsh Thank you sleep9hours. I will follow your advise.


Ajibola The Rosa Parks chapter i thought would be the least interesting one, it turned out to be the most interesting chapter.


Margaret Mechinus I agree about his jumping around in his stories. I was listening to the audio book and several times thought I had the wrong disk in or that they were numbered wrong. Very confusing and frustrating.


message 7: by Connor (new)

Connor I was just reading the sample of Power of Habit, glad I came here and saw your comment before purchasing. Thanks!


Adriana I find the book very interesting and instructive. The methods work.


Petrapower I haven't read The Willpower Instinct yet, but thank you for the recommendation. As for the "jumping" in The Power of Habit, as I understand it, the author always revealed only as much as was relevant to the main topic of the chapter. I liked it because it meant I could only focus on one concept at a time. I didn't have to focus on the interpretation of too many details in every story, just the part that was important right then. But I do agree that one of the reasons for writing that way could be building of anticipation. :)


Thuthukani Mathonsi To me the book was very informative and interesting. So I like it very much, what you call jumping back and forth My understand is that he wants us to see similarities in reward but different routines.


message 11: by Taaj (new) - rated it 4 stars

Taaj F I personally really enjoyed how Charles jumped back and forth.. It kept me engaged


message 12: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Thanks for recommending the other book. I'm not very far into this book and he already got wrong what "Chunking" is and confused the brain's cortex with the neocortex, making the ridiculous claim that simpler animals don't have a cortex / outer layer of brain! I'd rather read a book by someone who did enough research to at least be equal to a first year psychology student. He clearly didn't make a habit of studying, research, or fact checking, so I don't feel like reading his book.


CeciliaChristine Thanks for writing about the Willpower Effect, got curious and read that one as well!


message 14: by Ryan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ryan Sawyers I kind of enjoyed the 'chunking' effect because I found it an effective way to link anecdotes together, but I can see why some would not find it enjoyable and a bit disjointed. Thanks for the Willpower Instinct rec!


message 15: by Jessie (new) - added it

Jessie Horvath Thanks for the review, I will be reading both now!


message 16: by Jessie (new) - added it

Jessie Horvath Thanks for the review, I will be reading both now!


message 17: by Mike (new) - added it

Mike Hatch Thanks for the review, sleeps9hours. I'm listening to the audiobook and paused at the 2 plus hour mark. It is true the author will refer back to the toothpaste invention story just as he is finished talking about Febreze.

I may pause this for now and listen to Kelly McGonigal's book. I was familiar with it before I read your review. She was on The Dr. Oz Show a couple of years back, and ever since then I developed a habit of brushing my teeth with my non-dominant hand (left). I did it more for brain health reasons. I don't feel it helped me with habit creation. Maybe the book will help.


Interp Ozer Stretching the powers of interpretation are truly the only way horizons are pushed.


message 19: by Josh (new) - rated it 5 stars

Josh Lloyd While his deviation from his stories is slightly frustrating, the content, science, & usefulness is excellent. I think 2 stars is harsh for that 1 small issue. I gave it 5 stars regardless. If you have habits you want to start or break, this is an excellent read.


Ahmed Al sanhani I totally agree with u about the story telling and not making his points straightforward for the readers.


Steven couldn't agree more! the middle section got quite tedious at times. I liked the gambler and the insomniac story though so i had to finish it.
sadly though, in the end you realize that not much had been said that could be used as psychological insight or general take away Points for life that hadn't been obvious all along.


message 22: by John (new) - rated it 1 star

John I came here to say this.


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