It’s already time for the first monthly book review of 2020! Although I did not mention it in my list of goals for 2020, I do hope to read at least 2 books per month this year (a slight decline in expectations after last year’s goal of 30 books in 12 months). I managed to finish two books in January and honestly could’ve read more if my library holds had been available a bit more promptly. Anyway, the (somewhat unintentional) theme for this month was “habits,” which is quite fitting for a new year.
The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
Unlike my usual book selections, this one was not something I heard about on a podcast or read about on a blog–I simply searched for “the year of” on Amazon. Honestly, I just really love a memoir framed by the 12 months of the year. I think this is why I was such a fan of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and Eve Schaub’s books. A year-long self-improvement project is my favorite genre! Anyway, this book is apparently the by-product of blogger Cait’s documented journey to spend less, although the habits developed are repeatedly applied to other realms of addiction: alcohol, food, etc. I quite liked the idea of this project: prohibit superfluous spending and only allow the purchase of true necessities. I contemplated trying it myself at least for a short time but decided that the year we’re building a new house was probably not the best time to take on such an endeavor. Overall, this was a quick read and I enjoyed the author’s telling of her (non) spending adventures. Parts seemed a little redundant and meandering, but generally I think Flanders does a good job of emphasizing that we all truly need less than we think we do. Adopting a few of her rules would probably help us all take a step in the right direction away from unbridled consumerism.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
I’ll admit that my decision to pick up this book was for both business and pleasure, in a way. Habits are a HUGE part of what determines success in weight loss, which is essentially what I’ve chosen to devote my life to studying. Duhigg is apparently quite a respected business reporter, and I can tell that he did extensive research in putting together this book. I learned a lot about the history of habit-ology (probably not a real word, but it conveys what I mean better than anything else…), and it also resonated on a personal level on several occasions. For example, I have been accused by a few people in my life of being “robotic” or “rigid” because I have routines, and I don’t like straying from them. But I think my love of routine comes from the fact that I have a few key habits that have brought me a reasonable amount of success thus far in life. A passage from the book reads: “Sometimes it looks like people with great self-control aren’t working hard–but that’s because they’ve made it automatic,” (quoting Angela Duckworth of University of Pennsylvania). Some chapters in the book really bored me, particularly the ones centered around a certain football coach and how he transformed his players by incorporating the science of habits into his strategy. However, I did love the section devoted to how corporations use habits (did you know that Target has reams of data to help them predict a pregnant woman’s due date due to seemingly irrelevant shopping habits?!). Generally, I liked this book, as it provides interesting insight into how habits impact our daily lives on a micro and macro level.
What did you read in January?