Lessons from the super successful include actress Laura Linney's advice that actors should work with directors they find compatible and educator Erin Gruwell's that teachers build up a network of "emotional support." Broadway producer Marc Routh advises aspiring producers not to reinvent the wheel. There is a formula for success, follow it. Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics co-author, advises those who want to write a bestselling book that "imitation gets you nothing." Puzzle master Will Shortz gives advice about how to write New York Times quality crossword puzzles, and ends by telling us to "think outside the box." High wire artist Philippe Petit talks about the importance of attending to detail while being willing to improvise. At times the advice seems contradictory, at times cliché. Perhaps most interestingly the one bit of advice rarely if ever advocated by any of these successes is reading books on how to be a success.
The Art of Doing is the kind of book best taken in short doses—a chapter here, two chapters there. Too much in one shot tends to get redundant, or perhaps success piled on success gets daunting. On the other hand it is always nice to read about people with big dreams, working to achieve them and succeeding.