Book Review: Outliers

By Malcolm Gladwell

I have totally fallen for the writings and thoughts of Malcolm Gladwell just as I had for Ray Bradbury at one point. It's fun to get lost in an author that you LOVE, but my favorite authors to read over and over are generally fiction writers. Blink and now Outliers are two works that really have changed how I think. Outliers talks about an interesting set of characteristics and idiosyncrasies that lead successful people through their lives.

 It's about perspective for me. It's not necessarily that I agree with all of Gladwell's observations. Sometimes I don't even fully understand them. That's one of my favorite things about Gladwell. He makes me want to understand and want to discover new things by observing the mundane in a different light. And truth be told, sometimes the things he presents are a little unnerving, as many new and mind-blowing ideas are. In the end, the discomfort is worth the knowledge.

The people that Gladwell chose to explore in Outliers are truly remarkable and make for gripping stories: Bill Joy, Bill Gates, Christopher Langan, the Beatles and more. Gladwell goes over the "10,000 hour" rule, where to truly master something, you must have practiced it for over 10,000 hours. Gladwell wraps up by saying that society should be able to provide the same opportunities for more people, not just those that are privileged or are in the right place at the right time with all the stars aligned. I suppose I'm not sold on the fact that is possible. Seems a little overly idealistic.

A short time ago I had to explain to a library patron what the difference between fiction and non-fiction was and how both were arranged in the building. She ended up needing a best selling non-fiction book and so we popped over to the New York Times Best Sellers list. I really talked Outliers up and she was excited when I picked it off the shelf. I don't think I was halfway through the book at that time and I was already recommending it. After finishing it, I would stand behind my recommendation.

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