09 November 2010

Book Banter -- Outliers

Title: Outliers
Author: Malcom Gladwell
Genre: Non-fiction
Length: 309 pages
Where Stacie's Copy Came From: Oshkosh Public Library

Plot Basics: Is success a matter of chance and circumstance? Or is an individual able to achieve greatness through their own ability?

Banter Points: Gladwell examines what makes people great. His targets for review include Canadian hockey players, Bill Gates and The Beatles. While it isn't merely an accident of one's birth that propels them to greatness, it is not solely one's ability either.

Take, for example, the 10,000 hour rule. In order to be truly great at something, Gladwell proposes that one must put in 10,000 hours or more on the activity. The Beatles were great, but they got that way because they played 8 or more hours a day while they were living in Hamburg. All of that practice is what pushed them over the edge. Gladwell has other examples that the 10,000 hour rule applies to. Bill Gates and his programming abilities is one.

Gladwell also examines heritage and background for its impact on who a person becomes. A society or culture of honor can develop. The South is an especially great example of this. Insult a Northerner and he'll shrug it off to some extent. But a Southerner? He will take the insult personally and track you down to avenger his honor. Or his girlfriend's. Or his mother's. Several feuds in the South can be traced to this very trait.

Maxwell has excerpts from the book on his site, Gladwell dot com.

Bummer Points: It was a fascinating way to look at the rewards and structure of our society. And how our society is set-up for a maximum amount of resistance in so many ways. All of it has been unintentional and quite arbitrary but monumental nonetheless.

Stacie's Recommendation: Read and savor this title. While it easily could be read in a single session (or two), reading one chapter a day is a delightful way to change your thinking.

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