A Holiday Experiment

NOTE: This experiment has ended. Thank you to everyone who participated! I look forward to another special holiday promotion next year.


As a reader, some of my favorite moments have been personal connections with authors. The pen pal correspondence I had with teen horror novelist Ritchie Tankersley Cusick in the 5th grade (she encouraged me as I wrote my first and last mystery novel); the handwritten note from Judy Blume telling me she would think of me during my much-dreaded dentist appointment; the time meditation teacher Cheri Huber *gave* me two of her books (“Suffering Is Optional” and “The Fear Book”) when I couldn’t decided which one I needed more (trust me, I needed both).

This holiday season I’d like to participate from the other side. So here’s the experiment, and I hope you’ll participate in it!

If you would like to give any of my books or audio programs for a holiday gift, email me a copy of the receipt, and I will mail you a handwritten card personalized in any way that you would like, to give to the recipient. You can tell me who it’s for and what you’d like me to say. I can wish the recipient encouragement on a personal goal; courage during a life transition; whatever you think would be meaningful to the recipient.

To participate, email the following information to kellymcgonigalauthor@gmail.com:

1. YOUR name and mailing address (U.S. and Canada only)

2. Recipient’s name

3. Desired card type: Christmas, Hanukkah, General Holidays, Happy New Year, or Robots & Doughnuts (my personal favorite for The Willpower Instinct). UPDATE: I’m getting lots of non-holiday requests. It’s so much fun, I’m happy to do birthday, congratulations, encouragement, etc. cards also.

4. What kind of message you’d like me to write. Serious, funny, just let me know. (I appreciate that Jill Connor Browne used to sign books ‘To the only man I ever loved.’ If you want funny, you might have tell me what you think the recipient will find funny!)

5. Proof of purchase of The Willpower Instinct, Yoga for Pain Relief, or The Neuroscience of Change dated after 12/10/13. If you buy it online, you can forward your confirmation email or send a screen shot. If you buy it at an actual bookstore, God Bless You for keeping bookstores alive, and you can email me a photo of the book and receipt.

That’s it!

I love hearing from people who have given books to friends, loved ones, or coworkers — there’s absolutely no better “review” an author could get than finding out that a reader thinks it will help someone they care about.

I look forward to helping you make a holiday gift just a little more special.



UPDATE: When I announced this, I mentioned it was an experiment — but I didn’t reveal my hypotheses! I was curious who this project would allow me to connect with, who people would choose to share my books with, and what kind of surprising moments of connection and compassion might arise. So far, I have been delighted to write cards for children, spouses, friends, a doctor’s patients, a loved one in prison, and — to my surprise — about 20% of requests are from people who want a note of encouragement for themselves (that’s practicing self-compassion!). Thank you for allowing me to participate in all of these ways, and keep the requests coming.


Santa brought me a pre-release copy of The Willpower Instinct in 2011!

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5 Comments on “A Holiday Experiment”

  1. 10/19/2013 at 2:38 am #

    I like your proposal Kelly and will take you up on your offer. Kindest regards, John

  2. 10/21/2013 at 6:27 am #

    Love this! I am still working my way through the book and find it amazing! We librarians share books and ideas all the time – I wish more people would read books like yours, if so we’d have a better world. Peace, Dave

  3. 11/14/2013 at 5:07 pm #

    万年筆 ブランド

  4. 12/29/2013 at 7:17 pm #

    I hope I haven’t missed out on this. I’m loving the Willpower Instinct and would like to buy Neuroscience of Change for my wife and myself — especially if you’re still willing to include the personal message.

    One related question: Would you be willing to share what new studies you find particularly compelling? The bibliography of Willpower Instinct makes clear this is a rapidly changing field. While I look forward to your next book (or WI, 2nd edition), in the meantime I would love to know what citations you’re saving that make the grade in ‘willpower research’. Tweets would be great, but anything online would work as far as I’m concerned.

    Thanks, and Happy New Year,


    • 12/31/2013 at 7:15 pm #

      Hi Peter,
      If you see this, go ahead an email my author address with the info — the project is officially over but I can still send a Happy New Year card.

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