Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What the Dog Saw - Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell's latest book is a collection of his New Yorker essays. Because one of the first things I do when I receive a new copy of the New Yorker is scan the table of contents to see if Gladwell has written anything for that issue, many of these were old hat. Gladwell has grouped his essays into three separate categories: those about great people, those about great ideas, and those about how we make such determinations. Mostly, it's a collection of Gladwell's best essays in getting his readers to think about an entirely new topic (such as why ketchup doesn't have as many varieties as mustard) in an entirely new way (such as why we - incorrectly - often equate genius with precociousness). Among my favorites was an essay about why people choke - or fail to perform at their peak potential. I also enjoyed the one about the man featured in the television program The Dog Whisperer. While I might not always agree with Gladwell's conclusions, I love his ability to look at the ordinary world and come up with the extraordinary. This was a fun read - I did not find each and every essay noteworthy or captivating - but I did like his explanation of how he comes up with what to write about, and more often than not, I find myself wanting to talk about his ideas and findings - most certainly a great indicator of a book well worth reading.

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