cover image Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

Gretchen Rubin. Crown, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-34861-4

Bestseller Rubin (The Happiness Project) returns with this fun and informative self-help tome on the ways we unthinkingly shape our lives with habits. As she shows, habits affect our lives in both positive and negative ways. By acquiring positive habits and eliminating negative ones, we can increase our overall happiness. “How we schedule our days is how we spend our lives,” Rubin asserts. The subtitle calls to mind Julia Child’s cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, suggesting a goal similar to Child’s: to collect all the available information on the subject and break it down into components for readers to apply to their own lives. Writing that “we can build our habits only on the foundation of our own nature,” Rubin goes on to identify four tendencies, or personality types, in relation to habit-formation: upholder, questioner, obliger, and rebel. Her style is clear, and her voice is accessible yet mildly egg-headed. Using quotations from William James and Samuel Johnson, citations of current research, and personal anecdotes, Rubin comes across as a quirky, know-it-all friend who really, really wants to help you improve your life. [em]Agent: Christy Fletcher, Fletcher and Co. (Mar.) [/em]