Book Review: Blink

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
By Malcolm Gladwell

It's been a long time since a book blew me away like this. I must admit, the ideas and concepts proposed by Gladwell were extremely foreign to me and they were unsettling. The (very basic) gist of the book is that if you have extended experience with something, you can make the right decision within milliseconds - in the blink of an eye. The deeper I got into this book, the more freaked out I became.

Why was I so intimidated by this book? The first answer is that I find myself to be relatively well read and I had never heard of such a concept. It's such a new perspective that I hadn't even caught a whiff of it. Second, my life is very structured, especially in the realm of problems. I have a problem. I analyze it. I research it. I return to the problem with a plan and a back up plan. What Gladwell tells me is that I don't have to do all that if the area the problem is set in is an area of my personal expertise.

As a control freak, manic time manager, diligent source checker and overall OCD victim, the idea of making a decision, an important decision, in the blink of an eye is completely bananas. Yet, with Gladwell's fantastic writing, in depth research, clear examples and beautifully crafted argument, in the end I got it. The examples ranged from being able to tell the health of a marriage within 30 seconds to how a war game is won to the thinking process of a cop when he has to decide whether he's going to fire his gun.

Trust me that this review, nor almost any review, will be able to tell you how this book is going to effect you. It didn't hit home for me until I was at the last 50 pages. I have found that I'm starting to trust myself more, especially when I'm working in an area I've mastered, like librarianship. Even in writing I think I have this type of automatic response. Going with your gut is actually good form, despite the risks involved. I can't believe I just wrote that last statement.

This book is an exploration of instincts and the subconscious and it's a journey that I'm glad I embarked upon. It was very strange and very worth it.

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