Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Power of Habit Readalong: Part 3

I'm getting this in just under the wire, but it is still Wednesday so I got it posted on the read-along day.

I finished The Power of Habit and overall I found it interesting and thought provoking. 

Chapter 8 explains how a social movement grows through strong social ties (friends and acquaintances), followed by weak social ties (friends of friends and neighbors), and finally by entering the social fabric of the community as a shared value. The examples that are used are the Montgomery bus boycott and the church of Rick Warren. I thought this was the best chapter in the book. The way Duhigg wove the two stories together made the ideas he was explaining really clear. I didn't know the details about how Martin Luther King's got involved in the boycott and I found that history very interesting.
Chapter 9 of The Power of Habit compares a compulsive gambler to a man who killed his wife during a sleep terror, asking us to think about how much personal responsibility we're willing to assign habitual behavior. I thought this chapter overdid the compare and contrast angle. Ultimately I agree with the conclusion that because the gambler knew about her habit and the husband didn't, she was responsible for her actions/choices. 

The Appendix of The Power of Habit presents a framework for changing habits. The author uses a daily cookie habit to illustrate how to break down a habit and figure out how to change it. I wanted this information, a practical application of the theory, when I read the first part of the book. I'm glad he finally got to it.
I found the book easy to read and I think the mix of anecdote, research, and self-help worked. I would have preferred to have the self-help bits mixed into the book more instead of all at the end. I thought the sections that looked at the bigger picture (about companies and communities) were more effective in illustrating the principles than the more personal sections were. If found the personal sections a bit of a muddle. Overall it was an interesting book and worth reading.

 Check out Joy's Book Blog for thoughts from other read-along readers.   


  1. I'm glad it worked, overall, for you! I really enjoyed this re-read because I was doing it as a group. Your insights were very helpful. Thanks for participating!

    Joy's Book Blog

  2. I thought the author wrote better about the companies and organizations than about the neuroscience, too. It seemed as though business is more his usual beat, as a journalist. (I don't know if that's true, but he graduated from business school.)


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