Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear. Avery, 2018. (320 pages, $27).

Atomic Habits by James Clear

James Clear is a writer and speaker focused on habits, decision making, and continuous improvement. He is the author of #1 New York Times bestseller, Atomic Habits. The book has sold well over 5 million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 50 languages. Within the pages of Atomic Habits, James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, offers practical strategies for forming good habits, breaking bad ones, and mastering tiny behaviors for remarkable results.

Clear’s first act in his book is to define habits for the reader. He describes habits as the small decisions we make and actions we perform every day. According to researchers at Duke University, repeated habits account for about 40 percent of our behaviors on any given day. Clear states that while there are some outside influences beyond our control, your life today is greatly shaped by the sum of your habits. He insists that how in shape or out of shape we are is likely a result of our habits, how happy or unhappy we are is likely a result of our habits, and how successful or unsuccessful we are is likely a result of our habits.

He goes on to say that what we repeatedly do, what we spend time thinking about and doing each day, ultimately forms the person we are, the things we believe, and the personality that we portray. Everything Clear writes about – from procrastination and productivity to strength and nutrition – starts with better habits. He believes that by learning to transform our habits, we can meaningfully transform our lives. In other words, Clear says that, while we make our decisions, our decisions ultimately make us.

Clear insists that if someone has trouble changing their habits, the problem isn’t them, the problem is their system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because someone doesn’t want to change, but because they have the wrong system for change, thus they do not rise to the level of their goals, they fall to the practiced routines of their systems. His book seeks to provide its readers with proven methodologies utilized by expert therapists to overcome such hurdles in our lives. It also provides a peek into the inner workings of our thought processes, especially those pertaining to habits and motivation.

I found reading his book to be a very positive and informative experience, and due to my interest in scientific topics, I was intrigued when Clear brought up raw data and even charts sourced from psychological studies and experts in the fields of therapy, psychology, sociology, and even a bit of neuroscience. I personally feel that knowing a bit more about how our human brains think and operate goes a good way in helping us trick ourselves into more positive habits! I would definitely recommend Atomic Habits to anyone with an interest in psychology, or anyone just looking to start a few new healthy habits.

Clear’s writings have resonated with many people across the globe who insist that this book has inspired them to take stock of their daily activities and better regulate them in order to point their lives into a more positive trajectory by implementing healthier daily habits over time. While we here at Alamance County Public Libraries do not currently carry Atomic Habits in all 50 languages, we do carry it in English, Español, eBook, and eAudiobook form. If you read it soon, you’ll have time to come up with some great ideas for your New Year’s Resolution!

James Clear is a regular speaker at Fortune 500 companies and his work has been featured in places like Time magazine, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and on CBS This Morning. His free “3-2-1” email newsletter is sent out each week to over 2 million subscribers. Each message includes three short ideas from Clear, two quotes from others, and one question to ponder. The sign up for his weekly newsletter as well as the entire archive of his newsletters are available for free on his website,, where he has been posting his helpful musings since 2012. James Clear was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio and is a graduate of Ohio’s Denison University.

Donavon Anderson is a reference library assistant at May Memorial Library. He can be reached at