Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath (2007)

Genre: Nonfiction
Interest Level: Adult
Made to StickI love urban legends, and have used them frequently when presenting to groups of teens. Storytelling is powerful, and a good story well told can linger long after my more important explanation of how to use the Opposing Viewpoints database. Why? What makes one idea “stick”, and another disappear? Why do we remember the spider’s eggs in the gum, but not to solve a quadratic equation? The Heath brothers address this very question, and do a good job of getting their message across. They even provide a sticky solution – SUCCES. Ideas stick when they are Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and create a Story. Subway’s Jared – fat kid loses weight on fast food. Simple, unexpected, concrete (here are his old pants!) … see how this works? I picked up this business-focused self-help (a genre I usually stay away from) after a conference presenter recommended it. My work involves getting messages across, often to people who don’t want to hear them (university students!), so an “is it sticky?” test is really useful. Like most self-help books, it’s rather simplistic and repetitive, but I’ll admit I’d learned the lesson by the time I got to the end. Endnotes are used for those who want to know more, though some assertions go unsupported (apparently you are 300 times more likely to be killed by a deer than a shark – but no reference given). The index is pretty good – I found the shark entry right away, and it’s the sort of thing I’d look up because the idea stuck, but the details faded. Two unfortunate references to Lance Armstrong made me wince, but otherwise it feels pretty relevant and up to date. The writing is accessible and the brothers (one a Stanford prof and one an educational publisher) are successful in what they set out to do – get us think about ideas and what makes them stick, and then equip with skills to put what we’ve learned to work. Nicely done.
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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