Friday, March 27, 2009

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

These were history's gifts to my family--and if the resources of that grocer, the fruits of those riots, the possibilities of that culture, and the privileges of that skin tone had been extended to others, how many more would now life a lofe of fulfillment, in a beautiful house high on a hill?

This is the first book I've ever read by Gladwell, although I'm pretty sure he's something of a big deal in the literary scene these days. I bet Oprah is a fan. Outliers started out a little dangerous for my tastes. The impression I got from the first chapter was that people are successful because they're lucky and their circumstances facilitate their rise to the top. Now me, I'm a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps type of guy. I was pretty irritated by the first couple of pages. Subsequent chapters make it clear that Gladwell actually thinks (and statistics show) that success comes from those who are lucky enough to find themselves in a situation where great success is possible and then work harder than everybody else in that same fortunate circumstance.

My only real complaint about Outliers is that it didn't seem to have any clear direction. I get that Gladwell is trying to explain all these statistical outliers, but he kinda just bounces all over the place and only ties the different sections together very loosely.

I don't have too much to say about Outliers besides that I think its interesting enough, well-written enough, and short enough that there really isn't any excuse not to read it. Oh, I'll say that Gladwell's explanation for why Asians are so much better at math than me (and my like) was very cool. And surprisingly not racist. Check it out.

Highlights: Explaining how Koreans are really good at math but really bad at not crashing airplanes
Lowlights: Making me feel like I could never play professional hockey not matter how hard I tried.

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