HOW LUCK HAPPENS by Janice Kaplan


Using the Science of Luck to Transform Work, Love, and Life
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How to make yourself lucky.

Seneca said it best: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” In this genial, upbeat overview, former Parade editor-in-chief Kaplan (The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life, 2015, etc.) and risk-taking expert Marsh offer stories of those lucky moments in the lives of countless people. “To get lucky, you have to be in a place where opportunities are going to be around you,” said Marsh in one of the authors’ regular weekly conversations, which drive the narrative. Kaplan, a veteran journalist, is often out conducting interviews with famous and successful (and lucky) people, and she compares notes with Marsh, who provides insights from his own risk-related work (as a visiting researcher at Princeton and Harvard), as well as other findings in psychology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience. Time and again, their stories find luck occurring at the intersection of “chance, talent, and hard work,” whether in the case of the young carpenter Harrison Ford, installing cabinets for movie director George Lucas and winding up in the movie American Graffiti; or of aspiring actress Charlize Theron, discovered by an agent during a screaming fit in a Los Angeles bank. “You make luck through other people”—witness Mother Teresa, who found that flying first class put her next to wealthy donors. Not to mention social media maven Sree Sreenivasan, the former chief digital officer at the Met Museum, who, when he lost that job, got word out to his followers and soon landed a better-paying position. In a long succession of feel-good stories, not always about the famous but often so—from Thomas Edison to Lee Child and Deepak Chopra—the authors illustrate how individuals managed successfully to place the constellations of good fortune in alignment. They are quick to note that you won’t get lucky sitting home watching TV.

A brightly crafted, overlong diversion.

Pub Date: March 6th, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-101-98639-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2018


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