www.whyville.net Apr 20, 2014 Weekly Issue

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Book Review: Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

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"Outliers is a compelling read with an important message: by understanding better what makes people successful we should be able to produce more successful (and happy) people."
- The Economist

The next time someone asks me what I want to be when I grow up, I'm going to tell them, "Lucky."

Does this seem strange to you? That's alright. Before I read "Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell", that response wouldn't have made any sense to me either.

"Outliers: The Story of Success" is a compelling, mind-bending analysis of all of the elements that go in to making an 'outlier'. Outliers, by definition of this book, are the people through history who have become wildly successful, those who somehow achieve miles above the average person. Bill Gates, The Rockefellers and Vanderbilts, successful lawyers, and professional hockey players are all encompassed within this book, along with many others.

Each chapter explores a new concept, challenging everything we believe we know about what makes an exceptional individual.

Do geniuses, some of whom have IQ scores fifty points or greater above the normal maximum, really have an advantage?

What is the significance of your birthday?

These and other questions, many of which you may never have thought to ask, are addressed in "Outliers".

I would classify this book as scientific non-fiction, but it dabbles in other genres: self-help and current affairs, as well as what I would describe as many small, very abridged biographies.

Does at least one of these sound interesting to you?

If not, don't worry! I haven't picked up many books from those sections either. I love fiction, and often find research-oriented non-fiction books, full of facts and statistics, difficult to read.

"Outliers", however, was completely an exception. If you love to ponder, to wonder, to analyze, if you have a taste for success and achieving your goals, then I think you will be fascinated by this book.

Something to keep in mind if you do choose to read this book, is that the author uses quite a volume of statistics and anecdotes to make his point, as well as leaping from one new idea to the next quite quickly. This makes the book a dense read at times. For that reason, I wouldn't recommend it to people younger than about fifteen.

Having said that, you know yourself best. If you're younger than my suggested 'age limit', but this book is something that sounds interesting to you, give it a try!

Regardless, I hope you all enjoy this book as much as I did!


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