Friday, April 3, 2009


I love Malcolm Gladwell. Maybe even really. I checked out his website, and he's pretty cute. Blink and The Tipping Point, his previous two books, are my go-to recs for pretty much anyone. He's very easy to read, has a smart but conversational style, and tells stories very, very well. I think he's especially fantastic on any kind of mass transit and a safe bet for "guys who don't read" aka the "undatable." Sorry, boys. But hey, you can replace me with a few hours spent with the scholarly but entertaining Mr. Gladwell, who as I mentioned above, is also quite the looker. In case you're interested.

Outliers is all about things that at first appear genuinely unusual (eg. sports stars, multimillionaires, successful law firms, first generation college goers, etc.) but that are actually not quite as unlikely as they seem. Gladwell's opening example deals with the months in which elite Canadian hockey players are most likely to have been born. Turns out being bigger then everyone else makes you look good when you're six, which gets you onto the advanced team, so you want to be just on the right side of the cutoff - in this case, January 1st. He explains this much better, so if I'm confusing you, go the matresses. In this case, the mattresses can be read as the library or the bookstore or your friend's bookshelf. If you don't recognize the original quote, watch The Godfather. Like now. If nothing else, the movie will make a lot of seeming non sequiturs make sense.

Reading Gladwell also makes a lot of apparently inscrutable things suddenly scrutable (this is a "neglected positive" and will be discussed in the review for The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and is really all P.G. Wodehouse's fault). Gladwell's careful and masterful blending of the technical and the human makes his books a joy to read.

5/5 Swallows

P.S. Please don't use "scrutable" in public, it's not a real word, and people will think you're an idiot.

If you liked Outliers, try Gladwell's other books, Levitt's Freakonomics, and Glibert's Stumbling on Happiness.

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