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Seven: The Number for Happiness, Love, and Success [Hardcover]

Jacqueline Leo , Edward Burger
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 7, 2009
What is it about the number seven that has such a hold on us? Why are there seven deadly sins? Seven days of the week? Seven wonders of the world, seven colors of the spectrum, seven ages of man, and seven sister colleges? Why can we hold seven numbers or words in our working memory--but no more? Author Jackie Leo explores everything about this mystical, magical, useful, and fun number in her new book.


1. SEVEN is a tool to improve the quality of your life.
It is a way to define time, synthesize ideas, and keep your mind performing at top speed in an era of distractions.

2. SEVEN is culturally significant. It pops up everywhere, structuring our world in ways so fundamental, we notice them only when we pause to look. Across the ages and across cultures, the number has acquired a huge scientific, psychological, and religious significance.

3. SEVEN is intriguing. Why, out of hundreds of recipes in a cookbook, do people return to the same seven, over and over? Why, when asked to choose a number between one and ten, does such a large majority of people choose seven? Why does it take seven rounds of shuffling to obtain a fully mixed deck of cards?

4. SEVEN is influential. You'll learn how the number seven shapes our thinking, our choices, and even our relationships.

5. SEVEN is practical. Throughout this book are Top Seven lists covering the best ways to get someone's attention, to build your personal brand, and to put yourself in the path of prosperity and good luck.

6. SEVEN is fun. You'll encounter surprising facts, intriguing puzzles, and hilarious anecdotes.

7. SEVEN is wise. You'll hear stories about the meaning of seven from Mehmet Oz, Sally Quinn, Liz Smith, Christina Ricci, and many others.
Artfully designed and full of enough insights to keep you engaged in conversation at the water cooler for years, SEVEN will provoke, enlighten, and amuse.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A better, more enriching life is as easy as 1, 2, 3... 4, 5, 6, 7, according to Leo's first foray into authorhood after a long career as editor-in-chief and editorial director of such publications as Child magazine and Reader's Digest. Leo presents a laundry list of arguments, expert opinions and historical factoids for her theory that the number seven is an organizing principle because, as research shows, the brain can only handle seven pieces of information (such as digits) at one time. Seven, she says, can improve productivity, memory, love, learning and life in general by simplifying the overwhelming modern world. She lists seven behaviors for emotional intelligence, education expert Howard Gardner's seven types of intelligence, the seven things that made her friend Ed happy and so on, ad nauseam. Leo's background in short-feature editorial is tightly woven into her narrative structure, and the invasion of mindless tidbits, graphics and number seven sidebars busy up the pages, creating the kind of overstimulation it vows to cure. Advice seekers ought to consider the classic 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for a recipe for success. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Media guru JACQUELINE LEO has held a number of high-level positions in publishing and television. She founded and launched Child magazine in 1986, and went on to be editor in chief of Family Circle magazine and editorial director of the New York Times Women's Magazine Group, where she launched Fitness magazine. She was senior producer and editorial director of Good Morning America, editorial director for Consumer Reports, and vice president and editor in chief of Reader's Digest. She is currently director of digital operations for the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. She lives in New York City.

-- Mehmet Oz: "I decided to be a heart surgeon at age seven."
-- Christina Ricci: "Every seven years, everything changes: your physical being, your emotional being, the way other people look at you. Everything."
-- Sally Quinn: "I have always had a thing about birthdays with a seven in my age: seven and seventeen and twenty-seven, thirty-seven, etc. I can't wait to be seventy-seven."
-- Liz Smith: "Like Sophie Tucker, I've been rich and I've been poor and believe me, rich is better. It is, as long as you know the difference. And the difference for me was seven years."
-- Jeff Greenfield: "I always thought Mantle would forever be the most memorable 'seven' of my baseball fandom-alas, that was not to be the case."
-- Danny Meyer: "When I opened my second restaurant, Gramercy Tavern, I knew we'd make it. Why? Because we were given the following phone number: GR 7-0777."
-- Jacqueline Novogratz: "Seven was the organizing principle for our wedding, a reference to the wisdom of many religions, our way of bowing to those who came before us."

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve; 1 edition (December 7, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446542695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446542692
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,234,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SEVEN December 5, 2009
Seven by Jacqueline Leo
Rating: 3/5

Seven is an intriguing book about the phenomenon of the number seven, the appeal we feel for it, the psychology behind the appeal, and so on. Unlike some non-fiction, Seven is very readable and interesting, and is written in a way that doesn't make it funny or witty, but doesn't make it dry either. There is the perfect balance of information and interest to make it quite enjoyable.

Seven is filled with interesting stories, ranging from Tiger Woods' religion to Josh Waitzkin's martial arts experience to robot's facial expressions. Seven has many lists of sevens that make a lot of sense--seven reasons why people still smoke, seven strategies for a successful start-up in a company, comparing the seven media items in 1956 to the thirty-five (at least) in 2008, and so on.
Seven is a thought provoking book that will hopefully give its readers insight into the psychological attraction to numbers, and also some valuable advice for day to day life.
Recommendation: Ages 12+. I would recommend reading a chapter here and there on a lonely boring rainy day (hey, it worked for me!) with a cup of hot tea at your side. Leave plenty of time for musing and meditation while you read this one, and be prepared to entertained by this read!

**Thank you to Anna from Hachette for providing my review copy!**
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review by February 8, 2010
This is a clever and whimsical exploration of the role that the number 7 plays in our lives. As the dust jacket says, it is full of anecdotes and odd bits of information about 7 that will stand one in good stead for water cooler discussion.

I found this wonderful book to be far more than a collage of information relating to 7. It is an optimistic, engrossing exploration of life, set forth in an interesting step-by-step order. The chapters denote the critical elements of happiness - simplicity, happiness, love, learning, winning, life, and wonder.

7 begins, simply, by advising that our lives are the results of the choices that we make (actually, we are "prisoners" of those choices, for better or worse). We then learn that there are 7 character traits that define positiveness: optimism, kindness, curiosity, strong work ethic, empathy, self-awareness, and integrity. If we choose to be these things, the choice will define our life, as will the choice to not be any of these things (achieving negativeness).

The remaining chapters contain similar types of information, anecdotes, homilies, and a continuously happy and optimistic view of life. Indeed, the whimsy of focusing on a number and centering a book around the role that it plays in our lives is a curiously cheerful way to communicate life skill advice.

7 provides a veritable buffet of food for thought about life and happiness. I thoroughly enjoyed reading and thinking. This excellent book would make an ideal basis for discussing life in book club, church circle, or other group, male or female. The discussion would be every bit as entertaining and inspiring as is 7.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Seven in a Whole New Light February 27, 2010
According to author Jacqueline Leo, the number Seven is more than just a lucky number, it is "the brain's natural shepherd, herding vast amounts of information into manageable chunks." That is, "seven digits, letters, words or other elements" are the approximate short term memory limit for the human brain.

Armed with this insight into the biological underpinnings of Seven's popularity, Leo traces the number Seven throughout society. Each chapter analyzes the referenced topic through the prism of Seven. Before reading Seven I had no idea of the impact of the number Seven. From holding the keys to happiness (according to Confucius there are seven ways to a good life: "love and be loved; participate in your community; work hard: have fun; respect your body: seek knowledge: and be responsible") to setting the natural limits of acquisition (for instance the average cookbook buyer only uses an average of 7 out 1,000 recipes); Seven holds the key.

Seven is an interesting book that would have made a great magazine article, but is a bit tedious as a full fledged book. Then again I think if I had read Seven in snippets, as each chapter is self contained, rather than all at once I would have enjoyed it better. Still I have a new found respect for the number Seven.

Publisher: Twelve (December 7, 2009), 272 pages.
Advance Review Copy Provided Courtesy of the Publisher.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Light read June 8, 2010
The author tries to build the hypothesis that number "7" is a magic number and loses the way and tries to box this hypothesis into a great earth shattering fact and misses the point miserably.
Lots of fluff, recommended for light/ amusing read.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seven book rates a 7 out of 7 from fellow "7" author December 1, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Number seven has fascinated me for years. As a fellow author and septaphile, I am delighted about the publication of "7, the Number for Happiness, Love and Success," by Jackie Leo. I may be one of the first seven people in the world to comment publicly about Leo's seven book which is an intriguing and thought-provoking literary exploration of the wondrous world of seven.

I applaud Leo and her publisher TWELVE for recognizing the cultural, mystical and scientific influence of the number 7, as I did in my book "7: The Magical, Amazing and Popular Number Seven," which Aventine Press published this past March. I ordered my copy of Leo's delightful "Seven" book more than seven weeks ago through and I was thrilled to read it.

Here are my seven favorite things about Jackie Leo's collection of sevens: 1. "Seven Siblings" story about Kristin van Ogtrop's (editor of Real Simple) father as one of seven children 2. Striking book cover with a shiny gold image of my favorite number 3. Feast of the Seven Fishes celebrated in Southern Italy 4. "Odds on Seven" piece about dice rolls 5. Walter Anderson's "Seven Steps to Self-Fulfillment" 6. Delightful "Counting on Seven" piece by Washington Post writer Sally Quinn 7. "Seven on Seinfeld"--a 7 factoid which I also enjoyed including in my book about seven which describes Seinfeld's "The Seven" episode #123.

I wish Jackie Leo huge success with the launch of her book on 7 December. I regard our two books as complementary because they each document and validate the significance of the number seven throughout recorded history. If you're a septaphile--a fan of the popular number seven--no book collection about the number 7 would be complete without buying both "7" by David Eastis ( [...] ) and "Seven" by Jackie Leo ( [...
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