Book Cover - Book Review: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

Routines are key to many things in life, and I was more than happy to find an entire book dedicated to unveiling the routines behind the most brilliant human beings that Earth has ever known. But I was disappointed.

The book idea is really excellent. The main problem is the format of the book. The author chose to research the life of one famous artist (author, composer, painter, scientist) every day to find evidence about his or her daily habits. By choosing this path, the author had no other choice that to relate a very narrow view of their life, in one or two pages long. This is very problematic. The coverage is too short to gain practical insights. For example, several artists practiced meditation, and more suffered from an addiction (coffee, alcohol, sleep deprivation) but we cannot really understand the impact of these habits on their work in just a few paragraphs.

I would have preferred fewer artists (a few dozens instead of hundreds), and a bigger focus on the evolution of their habits over their life, showing correlation with their most popular achievements (maybe using timelines). What is really interesting about habits is how they contribute, favorably or unfavorably, in our accomplishments. I am conscious that it’s a daunting task if we consider routines are not the kind of information easily accessible — we often put too much focus on the result and not enough on the process behind the masterpieces of great artists. But less than two pages for personalities like Albert Einstein is not satisfactory, when several biographies were published about him.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading the book. But I was expecting so much from it that it explains in part my frustration. Why not a new edition with contemporary artists, available to answer questions about how famous artists are facing the challenges of our modern life full of distractions.

About the author

Julien Sobczak works as a software developer for Scaleway, a French cloud provider. He is a passionate reader who likes to see the world differently to measure the extent of his ignorance. His main areas of interest are productivity (doing less and better), human potential, and everything that contributes in being a better person (including a better dad and a better developer).

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