Atomic Habits – James Clear

I don’t like self-help books. I am not sure why I continue to bother with them.

But then again I am not sure why I bother with a great many things. And just like I commit to things I do not like doing to achieve a certain outcome, I continue to read self help books in the last ditch hope that at some point they will assist me in improving my life.

So far, the running record is pretty abysmal.

In lieu of explaining what the book is about (it’s about how to build better habits. Thank you for coming to my TED talk), I think it would be much more prudent to describe it by differentiating it from other books in the genre. This book felt much more actionable than many of the other ones I have read. I would like to believe that I have the normal self-help book pseudo-science formal pinned down: the only way the author of a self-help book can actually speak to an audience of several million is to be vague, and it is that vaguery that doesn’t allow the advice they give to be applicable to the nuances of your particular situation. This doesn’t follow into that trip, and it is wonderfully refreshing. It does this, by addressing exactly one point, but remains applicable to millions because it is something we all can work on – our habits. Thus all you get is the actual, actionable, meat and potatoes of this problem. And that is my favorite part of this book – it always felt actionable, and I never found myself asking ‘what can I do to apply this to my life?’ (a question that plagues every damn self-help book I read). No mysteries to this one.

Ok, enough gushing.

I didn’t read this recently. I read this damn near six months ago. But I waited to write the review intentionally. I was curious to see one thing: to what extent could I remember the points this book brings up later down the line. And here is the awful truth: I didn’t remember it them very well at all. There were a few that stuck in there, but for the most part, I couldn’t recite the steps of this book now if I were obliged to. Remember that word I liked from the paragraph above? Things you don’t remember are not actionable.

Which brings us to the real failure point of a lot of these books. People. People suck, I am a person, ergo I suck. Syllogisms are fun.

Self-help books have one fundamental difference between them and pretty much any other type of book in existence: we have a metric by which we can judge them – Do they get results? To the extent that this one can is still somewhat up in the air for me. But it was at least able to instill confidence in me that the method could work.

I took diligent notes on this. I think it is time for me to review those notes.


Frankly, I have no idea. And I am happy this way.

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