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Friday, June 17, 2011

Outliers

I love Malcolm Gladwell's writing. His writing is clear, easy to read and sounds just like you're having a conversation with a good friend. He and Stephen King are probably the best two writers at making you feel as if reading is an effortless conversation.

Outliers is a group of stories about exceptional people. People who either accomplish rare things or are considered outstanding. He shows that even though we tend to think exceptional accomplishment and success come from merit, society actually has systems and rules set up that pre-dispose winners to be the people that we admire and aspire to emulate.

Unfortunately Gladwell is usually long on story and short on solution. He tells the story of how hockey and baseball players born at certain times of year are much more likely to go to the pros. Then he talks about how kids that are born after the school cutoff and thus are older in their classes are more likely to go to better colleges. Then he talks a bit about how wealthy people raise their children to ask more questions than poor people do. Then we're out.

That isn't a complaint about Gladwell, I don't mind a big thought provoking look at our society without a clear cut set of solutions. The only complaint I have is that book stores somehow keep putting his books in the business section. When I read a business book I'm expecting to have a problem diagnosed and a solution defined. I think his books would be better set in the philosophy or biography section. But small complaints about marketing aside, I still enjoy his work and the best part is that a large amount of his longform journalism is online for free!

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Hey I appreciate you leaving your thoughts behind! Be well my friend.