Nonfiction Review: Better Than Before

July 10, 2017 Uncategorized 4 ★★★

Nonfiction Review: Better Than BeforeTitle: Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Source: Library

Summary: I didn’t think this was nearly as good as The Happiness Project but I do think it has lots of useful suggestions for anyone trying to make change their habits.

Gretchen Reuben’s Happiness Project is actually the book that inspired me to start blogging, so I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to pick up any of her other books. Better Than Before is a book about how we can intentionally form habits to make our lives easier. It includes 21 different habit-forming strategies, sometimes back by research and always demonstrated with interesting anecdotes from Gretchen, her family and friends, and her readers.

While I would love to say only good things about this book, since I’m so grateful to the author for inspiring the great experience I’ve had with this blog, it didn’t live up to my memory of The Happiness Project. The writing wasn’t chronological. It was instead grouped by types of habit strategy and felt more disjointed as a result. The 21 habits were a lot to keep track of and I would have loved to have a cheat sheet at the end. In The Happiness Project, I think Gretchen’s strategies to improve her life were typically backed by research. When they weren’t, however, it wasn’t a big deal, because she was just telling us the story of her personal attempts to improve her life. In Better Than Before, she’s trying to generalize habit forming strategies for everyone and so the fact that many seemed to be based on anecdotes bothered me.

The writing style reminded me of her podcast, Happier, which I’ve recently discovered and would highly recommend. It has definitely made my commute happier. Unfortunately, the style works much better for an informal podcast than for a book. The writing quality didn’t impress me. Despite the problems I had with this book, I did find it inspiring and think I could benefit from some of the author’s suggestions. Although I didn’t love this enough to recommend it to anyone, I do think it would be helpful to anyone looking to make some changes in their habits or feeling the desire to improve their lives.

4 Responses to “Nonfiction Review: Better Than Before”

    • DoingDewey

      Actually, I’d be tempted to revisit The Happiness Project as an audiobook. I really am enjoying Gretchen Rubin’s podcast, so I’m sure I’d enjoy her narration.

  1. Shay

    Unfortunately it sounds like her next book is going to be about the four tendencies framework that she made up wholesale in this book based on her anecdotal observations 😐

    • DoingDewey

      From what I’ve heard on her podcast, I think you’re right. It’s too bad, because I’m fascinated by happiness research, but your description of her framework captures exactly why I can’t get into it. I just don’t think the support is there!

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