Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Outliers: The Story of Success
Malcolm Gladwell
4 / 5

Published 2008

First Sentence
"Roseto Valforte lies one hundred miles southeast of Rome in the Apennine foothills of the Italian province of Foggia."
Publisher's Description:
The most successful may not be the smartest or hardest working. Shift rather to where they are from. What is their culture, family, generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing? Where and when were they born? From Asian maths students to the British Beatles, stereotypes can be addressed through different eyes.
Dear Reader,

Okay, I'll admit it: I have a soft spot for pop science books.  Gladwell reminds me often of another favorite, Oliver Sacks.  Both get me wanting to discuss everything I've read, share tidbits I've gleaned, recount odd phenomena which I've encountered in their works.  I love the accessibility of these authors and those of their ilk, who find ways to engage the general layperson public.  It's been years since I've taken a biology or psychology class; I wouldn't be able to relate to a dense textbook-like book.  But these publications are great ways to get me thinking and questioning the world around me again.  And I love it.

This book was particularly surprising to me because I didn't really have any interest in reading it!  I'd enjoyed others of Gladwell's works, but I only picked this one up because it was the required reading for a library instruction class I was to teach, and I wanted to familiarize myself with the material.  I'm glad I did, though: I ended up discussing the book so much with my boyfriend.  I even made him read a chapter that I found particularly interesting; it discussed the different ways people respond to aggression, based upon what region of the United States they are from.  The reasoning behind this finding fascinated me!  I found the same to be true of the chapter which discussed why Korean airline pilots had such a high rate of accidents in the 90s - so many, in fact, that there was a point where Korean Air was close to being shut down for good.  And the introductory chapter, about one of the reasons why some people become sports stars.  -- Really, every chapter in the book had parts which surprised me.  And that takes me back to the reason I really enjoy reading these kinds of books: while every "reveal" shocks me a bit, it then begins to really make sense, and helps to explain human nature just a little bit better, in my mind.  I love it.  (Did I mention that already? Haha.)

One thing I love about Gladwell's writing is that if you've ever heard him speak (or audiobooked any of his works), you can really hear him speaking his words as you read along.  Usually I think I have some sort of generic man or woman relating the story to me in my head while I read.  But with Gladwell, it's definitely his voice I hear.  I don't know why, but that does help me get into the pace of his works more.

Whether you read or audiobook this one, I definitely recommend it.  At the very least, it gives you plenty of interesting conversation topics for your next dinner party!

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