Nonfiction Mini Reviews

The latest books on my instructive nonfiction list: 10% Happier and Contagious. | Book reviews by

10% Happier

“After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. After learning about research that suggests meditation can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain, Harris took a deep dive into the underreported world of CEOs, scientists, and even marines who are now using it for increased calm, focus, and happiness. 10% Happier takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America’s spiritual scene, and leaves them with a takeaway that could actually change their lives.” (Summary via

I heard about 10% Happier from Gretchen Rubin, an author whose works on happiness and habits are always interesting, so I decided to pick this up. News anchor Dan Harris went from being a skeptic about all things meditation to being a total convert, claiming that the daily practice makes him 10% happier. It was fascinating to read about his personal journey and how meditation helped him, and it was even more interesting to see what wildly different groups use meditation (or “mindfulness”) as a technique for success. I’m definitely interested in reading more about this topic.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good


“Contagious combines groundbreaking research with powerful stories. Learn how a luxury steakhouse found popularity through the lowly cheese-steak, why anti-drug commercials might have actually increased drug use, and why more than 200 million consumers shared a video about one of the seemingly most boring products there is: a blender. If you’ve wondered why certain stories get shared, e-mails get forwarded, or videos go viral, Contagious explains why, and shows how to leverage these concepts to craft contagious content. Contagious will show you how to make your product or idea catch on.” (Summary via

If you’re at all involved in marketing or entrepreneurship, this book will be important to you. Berger talks about the things that make products and services contagious: Triggers, public, social currency, practical value, emotion, and stories. (If you think I’m going to explain what each of those means, you are way overestimating my memory!)

The best part about this book is the stories. Each of the concepts is illustrated by real life people and products. It’s useful if your livelihood depends on getting other people to buy your products. If that’s not you, it’s still a pretty interesting collection of stories.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

About Monica

I am obsessed with all things books. I'm a music teacher by day and a freelance editor by night.

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