59 Seconds: Think a little. Change a lot. is a self-help book masquerading as a book on psychology. Or, perhaps, it’s a survey on psychology masquerading as a self-help book? I’m not sure. It fits in a similar niche as Stumbling on Happiness and Satisfaction!, two texts that attempt to bring social science research to the unwashed masses (read: I can understand it).
Wiseman does some things rather well in the book. It may not be the stated purpose of the text, but the author devotes a decent amount of side effort to debunking commonly held misconceptions about self-help. Various frameworks and exercises ostensibly designed to help make people successful are frequently deconstructed and demolished.
More on the point of the text itself, he does some work to try to find scientifically proven approaches that are at least correlated (if not causal) with success and improvement. The research is explained in layman’s terms and then the take-homes for the reader are summarized. It’s a bit rote at times, but for the most part the approach succeeds.
The part I found frustrating is the hook: The author’s attempt to distill each chapter down to 59 seconds of advice and to in fact summarize the entire book in as much time. This simplification of the preceding text seems gimmicky and does discredit to the rest of the text.