Nov 28



by Malcolm Gladwell


Picture 2Non-Fiction
First Published in 2008
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Click to buy this book (free delivery)

Book Synopsis:

Why do some people achieve so much more than others?

Can they lie so far out of the ordinary?

In his provocative and inspiring new book, Malcolm Gladwell looks at everyone from rock stars to professional athletes, software billionaires to scientific geniuses, to show that the story of success is far more surprising than we could have ever imagined. He reveals that it’s as much about where we’re from and what we do, as who we are – and that no one, not even a genius, ever makes it alone.

Outliers will change the way you think about your life story, and about what makes us all unique.

bunnyMy Book Review:

Malcolm Gladwell’s books are the sort of books in which you unwittingly exclaim out loud while reading, immediately spouting out little facts and discoveries to whomever is within listening range. I had so many dinner time stories to share during and after reading this book, I felt like a little fountain of interesting and unique information.

I hesitate to bring up too many examples of the discoveries that Gladwell reveals in Outliers, for fear of giving the punch-lines away. Lets just say that it was an informative and smile provoking read that confirmed many of my suspicions about the path to success:

Hard work + Circumstances = SUCCESS!

For those of us who don’t really ‘get’ the word Outlier straight off, Gladwell starts the book with the definition:


1.something that is situated away from or classified differently from a main or related body.

2.A statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample.”

I was a little confused by this definition, but it soon became clear that it was about people who lay outside the realm of ‘normal’, who had special abilities, be it mathematical or musical genius, had earned piles of money or tons fame, or even a group of people who somehow managed to evade illness.

Outliers is about HOW these people got to the top. The results are surprising as well as obvious.

Minor Spoiler Alert!

I’ll bring up two examples and no more.

The first example that is quite obvious but still important to know:

It takes people 10,000 hours to become really great at something, be it playing the piano, or becoming a computer whiz. Hard work and practice, practice, practice are the key.

The second example is a surprising insight is about Canadian hockey players who manage to make it to the big league. Canadian hockey is thought of as a meritocracy, however, a vast majority of players are born in the early part of the year. This is because the cut off date for age class hockey is January 1st. Therefore, those children born in the early part of the year are naturally older and often bigger, giving them an early and immediate advantage. This advantage can stay with them their whole hockey career, having been given the seemingly minor but massive head-start of being born at the right time of year.

[Tip for parents to be, plan to have your child at a time that coincides with the primary school cut off date of your favourite sport.]

Gladwell demonstrates with interesting examples how ones economic and social circumstances, the year and even month they were born, and who their ancestors were contribute significantly to who you become and how you behave. Legacy plays an important part – legacies dating back generations have an effect on how you act and react in your daily life.

I enjoyed reading Outliers, the examples were surprising at times and although his insights sometimes seem obvious once you’ve read them, they act as a confirmation that you can work towards success (10,000 hours, here I come!), and also make you wonder what cards your circumstances have dealt you, and if you are limited or freed by them.

One of my favourite chapters was the one about how Korean Air (a previously freakily dangerous airline to fly on) transformed itself after acknowledging legacy.

Read it, you’ll feel smarter after.

x Julie

Non-Fiction Book Review

- Reading Like Rabbits

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  1. KK says:

    hey Julie,
    you sure read a lot, and fast!

    Outliers is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year.
    10,000 hours takes nearly 10 years to achieve. What will yours be spent on?