Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden

book of may: outliers: the story of success


I have recently finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success.

I love this man. Ever since I decided to buy Blink on iTunes in the spur of the moment, on a whim – I kid you not – I have loved this man. I love listening to this man. I find him painfully interesting. And outside of the way he pronounces the word ‘year’ (and all cities in Massachusetts) I love his voice.

I am very sorry to say that I have now read all of his published books. (Or listened to him read them to me . . . . at work.) Worry in that I now have no more new books. Not all that sorry I guess, because I fully plan on re-reading them all. Multiple times. I promise I’m not a creep. Usually.

Outliers was definitely full of interesting points of view, and many fascinating studies – as is characteristic of Gladwell’s writing. I might be able to say that this is my favorite book of his. Which is difficult, because Blink comes in as an extremely close second. And pretty much any written word that comes from Gladwell’s mind is top-notch in my book.

I was, however, a little peeved when he implied that the age biases in the sporting world aren’t of that much consequence. Basically because it isn’t real life. Sure. OK. For all the junior hockey players, it matters. For the potential NHL players with the potential to make 17 million dollars in a year – I’d say it matters. And when he goes on in the book to repeatedly state and show that it’s a person’s ‘ecology’ that creates them – wouldn’t a child of an NHL player have a drastically different life, than they may have had otherwise? But let’s not get into that.

I will admit though, that there are things of higher concern on a global/social level. Which is what I think he was aiming to convey. I would just hesitate to claim that the hockey example is of no consequence. If you ask me. Which you did. By reading this.

This was, however, my one complaint in the four books I’ve read. I’d say that’s a pretty impressive track record. (Side bar: upon reconsidering this paragraph, I have a small number of other complaints, but I want to keep this post to a reasonable length. Although I do feel compelled to mention that although he says he’s embarking on a discovery of the success of men and women – he does not talk about successful women. Outside of his own mother, the only other woman he really even mentions is a sentence or two containing Cleopatra’s name.) Moving on.

I do want to say that this book was highly motivating. For some reason listening to all of these success stories really gets me going. (Not like that . . . . ew.) I’m so glad I have this book to refer to whenever I need a little pick me up/motivational speech. The book imparts the message that if I work hard enough for long enough, I can reach some degree of personal success. (Probably.) My goal isn’t to become a rock star, or a professional athlete (although I hear the soccer players in Linköping get paid a pretty penny…), or a multimillionaire (but, I mean, who would say no to that?). I believe I can have success in this life by finding happiness. Which is something you have to work on, but is very achievable.

At the end of the book Gladwell tells a story closely involved in his life. I found this one of the more interesting of the stories (again, a close call, they’re all painfully interesting). It also left me wanting to do a similar investigation into my own life, to really examine what it is that got me to where I am today. Not that I’m comparing myself to Bill Gates or the Beatles. (Although, I am pretty awesome.) But I think it would be a ridiculously fun thing to do. Maybe an activity for July, when we have three weeks off work. (Did I tell you all of Sweden pretty much shuts down for the month of July so we can all go on vacation? It’s pretty excellent.)

I had an immense amount of fun listening to this book, and I highly recommend all of his works to all of you. Immediately.

I know you’re intrigued, here are the links to buy Malcolm Gladwell’s books on iTunes:

Outliers: the Story of Success

Blink: the Power of Thinking Without Thinking

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures

(picture credit)


2 thoughts on “book of may: outliers: the story of success

  1. Pingback: book of october: david and goliath | Enjoy Not Knowing

  2. Pingback: eightteen. read a book a month | Enjoy Not Knowing

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