Between the Lines

An overview of our favorite best-sellers.

by Jennifer Retter

The Power of Habit
Charles Duhigg

For Charles Duhigg, eating a cookie every day at work started to weigh down his life — literally. After the journalist gained eight pounds from his afternoon cookie-eating habit, he decided to change something. But to change his mindless eating habit, he thought, he must first learn how habits worked.
In Duhigg’s case, he noted that his cookie urge fell in the afternoon, typically around 3 p.m. He tracked his usual pattern: walk to the elevator, ride up to the cafeteria, buy a cookie. He realized that eating cookies and socializing with work friends went hand in hand. And from there, Duhigg cracked the code.
To break a habit, Duhigg said, one must identify the habit’s cues (in his case, the time), the routine (the elevator ride) and the reward (talking to friends). Once these steps are in place, you have your habit. To break the habit, however, consider how you could obtain the reward without yielding to your usual bad habit.
For example, let’s say you feel dreary in the mid-morning and always stop by the break room for your second cup of coffee. After continuing this habit for so long, you find yourself hooked on caffeine and simply can’t go on without those two cups in the morning. Your reward? That awake feeling that keeps you going.
Duhigg would argue that by replacing the habit with another activity that gives you the same reward, you can free yourself of your caffeine addiction. Consider walking up and down the stairs once or twice to get your blood flowing. Step outside and stretch. Peel open a banana at your desk. The possibilities are endless.


Don’t Mess With Travis
Bob Smiley

With the political season upon us, Don’t Mess With Travis is a timely read. This irreverent political satire tells the story of Texas Sen. Ben Travis who becomes governor and pushes for the secession of the Lone Star State. Author Bob Smiley explores all that is wrong with present-day politics through his character Travis that everyone wants to get behind.
Travis works to fight big government tyranny and restore a sense of sanity after taking his new position when his predecessor dies in an unexpected crash. Although he is ill equipped to take charge, Travis is not shy about his quest for secession after uncovering a dirty federal secret. He wins his public support based on his folksy attitude and no-nonsense approach.
As a bonus, Smiley incorporates the history of Texas politics and culture throughout his novel. Although Smiley makes his right-leaning values obvious, the political humor and witty dialogue will appeal to readers on each end of the spectrum.
Smiley also wrote the sports memoir Follow the Roar, which chronicled his journey as he followed Tiger Woods for every hole of an entire season. He also works in television and film.
To learn more about Smiley and to check out his politically based blog, visit


Went Out To Get a Donut — Came Home With a Muffin
Laura W. Eckroat

No, this isn’t a book all about food. Children’s author Laura W. Eckroat released her third paperback, Went Out To Get a Donut — Came Home With a Muffin, with the intent of focusing on something a little closer to her heart: her dog, Muffin.
Eckroat engages young readers with the story of a family going out for a routine day, then stumbling upon a surprising opportunity: a cute, fluffy, compassionate puppy. Should the family take him home?
If your child takes to this heartwarming story, look into some of Eckroat’s other publications. The Life of Bud tells the story of, well, a little bud growing on a tree. As the bud blossoms and grows old, it moves through life stages and eventually, sadly, reaches the end of its life.
Eckroat’s second publication, A Simpler Time, reminds the little ones that there’s more to life than iPods and video games.
Eckroat draws on her experience as a elementary school teacher and Fort Worth Nature Center volunteer to target her books to the audience she is most familiar with: your children. Heard of her from your child’s assignments? The mother of one encourages classrooms to e-mail her about her books with feedback.
Pick up a copy of the sweet and touching Went Out To Get a Donut — Came Home With a Muffin to read with your child this weekend.
Just don’t be surprised when your child wants to go out and find his or her own Muffin, too.