Lately I have been wanting to read something different; although I still really enjoy reading young adult novels, I needed a break from adults trying to be teenagers! So, when Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell was recommended, I decided to give it a shot.
I remember the first time I heard about this book, I was in 6th grade and learning to play violin. We had to practice everyday for homework and sometimes little Charlotte was just too lazy. However, I still wanted to be the best in my class… I guess I was ignoring the connection between practice and improvement. Cue my dad and his lectures! He told my siblings and me that a person had to practice for 10,000 hours to master a skill. I was shocked, counting how long it would take me to get to that point. To say the least, this has stuck with me to this day (even if to my parents’ dismay I stopped playing violin).
The book itself is a pretty quick read that mainly focused on different statistics and was definitely different from what I normally read. However, I found it quite interesting! It focused on (you guessed it) the ‘outliers’ of society, meaning individuals that are the best at their profession or skill. It was written in a way where it felt like I was solving a sort of puzzle with the author as I slowly discovered circumstances that made an individual an outlier. It was also really nice to have it confirmed that experts weren’t just born geniuses and that hard work and circumstances lead to their successes. The 10,000-hours anecdote may be the most quoted part of Outliers, but the book had lots of interesting stories and analyses of the reasons behind what makes someone excel.
Although, I found it enjoyable to read, I have a few complaints about Outliers. First of all, you get the point about outliers pretty quickly. After the first few chapters/examples, I was finding myself getting easily distracted. I made it through the book and was glad I had, but the farther I read, the more tedious it became. Next, it wasn’t until someone pointed this out to me that I noticed, but the author only uses research that proves his point. I mean it is pretty obvious why any author trying to prove a point would do this. Nonetheless, I was still disappointed. Whenever someone writes an argumentative essay, anticipating the opposite opinion and trying to convince the reader of that as well, should be a goal. At least acknowledge different points of view! Otherwise, its just one sided and ones argument can that be undermined easily. I felt like someone could easily have found a similar amount of anecdotes and research points to give different conclusions than the author.
That said, I really enjoyed learning about how different aspects of life can have such a drastic effect on the rest of your life. The book is not only intriguing and well written but it is also educational so I recommend it. The chapters are mostly separate anecdotes that don’t build on one another, so you can also read them more like magazine articles in a stand-alone way, which I might recommend for a book like this (where all the chapters sort of make the same point).