In the Habit

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday LivesBetter Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reviewers of Gretchen Rubin's books tend to fall into one of two categories: those who like her and those who don't. Given her mania for categorization, this is a distinction that Rubin herself might appreciate. However, it seems all too often that evaluation of the book never progresses beyond a visceral reaction to the author's personality. Personally, I find her self-assured epigrammatic style rather engaging, although others sometimes view her as a condescending know-it-all.

Perhaps, therefore, it is no accident that Ms. Rubin's favorite author is Samuel Johnson, the biggest know-it-all in the English language. Johnson is saved from being completely insufferable by wit and insight, and one might well say the same of Ms. Rubin. Her behavioral categorizations — criticized by some with a sniff as "unscientific" — are nevertheless a useful heuristic for separating different kinds of personalities. And Ms. Rubin's observation that when it comes to habits, one size does not fit all is a refreshing change from the singlemindedness of many "self help" books. Ms. Rubin is surely right when she observes that we can learn a great deal from people who are different from ourselves, and this is nowhere more evident in this quirky analysis of habits and how people form them.

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