The Power of Habit
Charles Duhigg
Random House, 2011

This is a popular science book covering the research in psychology and marketing surrounding our habits -- from minor habits such as doing the laundry to major addictions. It has a lot of good information and is a good read, but many readers, including myself, find the writing style somewhat annoying.

There is a lot of information in this book, most of it quite interesting. Duhigg has researched -- and fact-checked -- a lot of material on human behavior. He covers subjects ranging across research on willpower, addiction both physical and psychological, planning, focus, social movements, and marketing. It is sometimes questionable whether his thesis is as unified as he would like it to be, as comparing the habits of individuals and organizations is a bit iffy. But all of it is interesting, and everything is explained in a clear manner.

On the other hand, the downsides are fairly severe. Duhigg tends to avoid giving numbers and technical details of the studies he quotes (unfortunately, that is the way these books are usually done). Even more annoying, the he has a writing style that involves starting an interesting segment, but then interrupting himself to tell us that there is one more important piece of the puzzle, and then giving us a couple of involved anecdotes that will (no doubt) illustrate this quite well... eventually. And then doing it again, and again.

Overall, this is an interesting read, and not a bad use of your time. The on-line reviews indicate that many people have found it a valuable read that has direct relevance to their lives, and that it is comparative minority who feel that the writing style overshadows the content. Even if you do find the writing style annoying, the book gives lots of jumping-off points for further reading, and whether or not you are not looking to form any life-changing habits, it is full of useful information for humans to have.

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