Malcolm Gladwell Does It Again

May 8, 2009

I'm posting so very late today because I was somewhere all day away from the computer. A very weird day. I wasn't able to draw where I was (not enough light). But I was able to read (just enough light). I spent all day, with constant interruptions, reading Malcolm Gladwell's new book Outliers: The Story of Success.

I first became aware of Gladwell's writing because I subscribe to the New Yorker and is on the magazine staff. Because of his articles I read Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, then went back and read The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference.

I could go on and on about Gladwell, but it's late, I'm tired, and I only have a small portion of this book left to read, and boy do I want to finish it. So this is what I'll say about Gladwell—he always seems to find curious things that most people take for granted. And then he looks at them again because he is curious. And then he writes engaging prose to explain what he has discovered, so that you can learn it too all the while showing you the connections you might not have seen before in the broad topic.

My copies of his books are filled with underlinings and marginal notes of all the other things he makes me think of that relate to what he is talking about: things from my life, things that I've learned that now make sense, little bits of knowledge that have been rattling around in my brain and now have a home, a context. It's just plain fun to read his books. Like having a really good dinner companion with whom to chat.

I think his books are important too. If you want to live in the current world you need to read them. Even if you are going to disagree with him. Either way, go read them. His books have at their core an overwhelming sense of the positive. Knowledge and understanding matter, and change is possible if you have knowledge.

While you're at the bookstore pick up the May 11 issue of the New Yorker  and check out his article on Davids vs. Goliaths. He was on NPR being interviewed yesterday or the day before about this article and I couldn't wait for it to arrive, but by the time I had arrived back home and walked to the postbox it was THERE!

  1. Reply

    Roz: I read this book too. I really like Gladwell’s stuff as well. There is a wonderful video presentation of him talking about genius that you can find on the New Yorker web page. I just love the 10,000 hour theory. Great stuff.


  2. Reply

    Here’s the link to the talk…

    I love the hair. J

  3. Reply

    I love it – another Malcom Gladwell fan!

    I’ve written a couple of posts on my blog building on the points he makes in his different books

    This is the outliers one which looks at how you get good art art – Outstanding performance – a talent or 10,000 hours of practice?

    Then we have the Blink one which is all about painting – In the blink of an eye

    • Roz
    • May 9, 2009

    Katherine, I guess I could put it off as simply liking his theories because they agree with mine (I’m always telling people to put in more time if they expect to improve in their art), but I think there is so much there!

    • Miguel Marcos
    • May 9, 2009
  4. Reply

    I heard an interview with him that I enjoyed and have read and enjoyed his two previous books. I put his books in the same category as Freakonomics, which I found extremely interesting as well. I love getting to peer into the thought process of these brilliant people who have new and unique ways of looking at the world.

  5. Reply

    I should have provided more of the title of the book I was relating to Gladwell’s: “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything” by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner….

    • Roz
    • May 10, 2009

    Miguel, I didn’t realize they posted full stories on their site! I should look more often. I so love my paper copy!

    But thanks for the link, everyone should read this!

  6. Reply

    Gladwell is definitely insightful and lays it all on the table, even things we don’t want to hear. We can spend the 10,000 hours to master a skill, but we also need the right opportunities to come our way. Even ones like, being born in the right month. :T

    • Roz
    • May 19, 2009

    Daryl, one of the things I so enjoy about Gladwell is that because he gets down to the details of something like the issue of birth month in the Hockey leagues in Canada he is also unearthing a possible fix. If they had two divisions to feed into the system, one for early in the year births, and one for later in the year births, there could be twice as many naturally talented people competing.

    While that change isn’t happening I like knowing that there are approaches we can take.

    And I also appreciate how he debunks the sense of “self-made” and instant success. These are all things we can learn from when making life-choices, and as we get on with our 10,000 hours!

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