31 Days of Great Nonfiction: Outliers

OutliersOutliers: The Story of SuccessOutliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell by Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell is a favorite of mine – I featured his book The Tipping Point in last year’s series, but I couldn’t resist including another one this year.

One of my favorite parts of Outliers is when Gladwell discusses the role chance plays in success. Not luck precisely, but timing. While he acknowledges how important hard work is (this is the book that describes the key level of 10,000 hours of deliberate practice), there is also the matter of being in the right time and place for events to coincide with that deliberate practice and create that Outlier.

What do I mean? Well, in his well-known example of Canadian hockey players, those players who were born in the first half of the year were much more likely to succeed as measured by playing in the NHL. Born in the last six months of the year? Your route to the NHL got much, much harder, even if you had the same level of determination and talent and put in the same hard work.

If you find that interesting, the entire book is made up of fascinating tidbits and observations of the same sort.

Publisher’s Description:
In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

Brilliant and entertaining, Outliers is a landmark work that will simultaneously delight and illuminate.

31 Days of Great Nonfiction

In last year’s series, I featured Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, and it’s a great choice if you like Outliers. His book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without ThinkingBlink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell is also fascinating, and I enjoyed his latest, What the Dog Saw: And Other AdventuresWhat the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell, although it’s probably my least favorite of his books. He’s also got a new book out: David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling GiantsDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell. I haven’t read it (I’m way down the holds list at my library), but I’m hoping it’s good.

To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction, go to the series page.

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  1. I loved this book! I liked his others too. He’s a great story teller.

  2. I am glad to hear that you liked this book. It has been on my TBR list for a long time.

  3. Gladwell is one of my favorites as well. I’ve read Outliers, Blink and The Tipping Point. He gives great insight into the psychology and patterns of success and achievement. Great books for people who get tired of all of the typical business/success books focused on leadership, management and sales (etc.). Interesting insights that provide a different way to assess any given situation.

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