I have spoken at length about my love of behavioral economics, but the type of book that I enjoy is fairly specific and difficult to outline. Given that I have difficulty defining it, I can’t really be mad when a book falls short.
This wasn’t bad, it just covered ground I’ve tread well. Atomic Habits owes a debt to Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit, and one it acknowledges, which itself owes a debt to Made to Stick, a book born of Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. I’m not sure if the book is derivative, or if I’ve just read too many books like it. There would be a passage about sports and I’d think, read it in Drive (the chess prodigy family I learned about in that book makes an appearance here). The idea of making a habit appealing? Chip and Dan Heath, table for two. Getting yourself to make small changes in order to make them palatable? Tversky and Kahneman would like a word.
But in another universe where I wasn’t a behavioral economics nerd, I could see this book being essential. There’s a lot here to like. Even I found something new to appreciate here, notably Clear’s recommendation that to keep a good habit going, don’t punish yourself for having an off day, just make sure the next day is back on track. One is an outlier, two is a trend.
It’s a great book for someone dipping a toe in these waters. I just need a book for the deep end. I’m giving it four stars for the average reader, three for me.