Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell [TSS]

Title: Outliers: The Story of Success
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
ISBN: 0316017922
Pages: 320
Release Date: November 18, 2008
Challenge: Winter Reading Challenge
Genre: Non-Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5

From the dust jacket:

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.

Though I have heard a lot about Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers is the first of his books that I have read. I have his other two books sitting on my shelves, but I just haven’t gotten around to them yet. I can now say that I definitely want to read them sooner rather than later.

Outliers is an incredibly interesting book. The basic question is why are certain people successful and others not? Gladwell posits that you have to look at more than just the person – you must also look at their circumstances, their background, and their culture. I definitely agree with a lot of the book. He points out that higher socioeconomic status equates to more and better opportunities. I don’t think that many would argue that point. I also do think that culture affects people more than they realize, and that emotional intelligence is just as important as IQ.

I can’t say I 100% agree with all of the assertions made in Outliers because the analysis seems a bit flimsy. Gladwell seems to make broad generalizations from shaky data; because this isn’t a research oriented book, I think that’s ok. He didn’t convince me that he is completely right but he did prove that a lot of his ideas have merit. I think that his ideas are definitely on the right track.

The thing I liked the most about Outliers was its sheer enjoyability. I often have trouble getting through non-fiction books because they are often dense and difficult to read, but Outliers was definitely very easy to read. It was also fun; there are all kinds of random facts and trivia contained within the book, which is great for keeping readers interested. He never bores the reader with inane facts or details; the book is meticulously crafted around keeping the attention of the reader and thoroughly entertaining him or her.

I definitely recommend Outliers to anyone and everyone, especially if you want to read more non-fiction but have trouble with the genre. It’s a really good book; I can’t wait to go back and read his other two!

A big thank you to Kelly at Hachette for sending me this book to review and for making sure it got to me!


  1. I think I should buy this for my niece!

    My TSS post is up!

  2. I have this one and I really want to read it!

  3. I’ve been on the fence with this one – I think for the same reasons you avoid non-fiction.

  4. I haven’t read Outliers, but I enjoyed The Tipping Point.

  5. His writing style is so much fun isn’t it!

  6. I saw him on The Hour (CBC) with George Strom. He had some very interesting ideas. Love that crazy hair!

  7. I didn’t agree with all his logic either, but he definitely got me thinking about things in whole new ways!

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