Seven by Jacqueline Leo

Part self help book, part meditation on the number seven and the way that it has popped up time and again throughout the course of history, Jacqueline Leo’s new book is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Leo covers a wide range of topics that try as I might to summarize leave my powers of summary in the dust.  There is a wide variety of information that is offered in this book.  Luckily I can share that she  has divided the chapters among seven principles which she explores in a little more detail and offers fascinating cultural and historical information as well as informative lists pertaining to each principle and the number 7.  The principles Leo explores are simplicity, happiness, love, learning, winning, life and wonder.

Leo had a lot of thoughts to offer on how much we are always on information overload, and the way that our brains are changing and adapting as we get used to the massive amounts of data that we encounter, and the new ways in which we process that information.  I was particularly interested in her thoughts on multi-tasking and its influence on the functioning of our memories or the lack thereof.

It seems that people young and old are having more issues with short-term memory than ever before and information overload, overcommitment and multi-tasking are the likely culprits. The recommendation, which I took to heart, was simplifying our schedules and committing to “to-do” lists containing a maximum of seven items each day.

The book is interspersed with articles by other notable figures on how the number seven has played an integral part of their lives in some way, and I read with interest as Jerry Seinfeld, Kristin van Ogtrop (the editor of Real Simple), author Derek Bok, and others shared their connection to this mystical number.  I also enjoyed the number seven based lists which were scattered throughout the book- like The Seven Keys To Good Luck, The Seven-Day Get Smarter Guide, and Confucius’ Seven Ways To The Good Life.

This book grabbed me and I was inspired and fascinated by a lot that I read.  As I was reading through this book I thought of friends I knew who would enjoy certain parts.  The section on winning was tailor made for one of my guy friends.  I called my mother to share a few key passages with her and already she wants to read it. Though I’m willing to share my copy with her, at some point, if she likes, she will have to get her own because I need a copy of this to refer back to from time to time.

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