Book #3: Outliers

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I’m not a big nonfiction reader. I started experimenting with the genre several months ago when I was required to read a young adult biography of James Madison called The Great Little Madison. After reading it I realized how little I knew about the founding fathers and the birth of our nation. I haven’t yet read any books following up on this topic but I discovered that I can find answers to my questions by exploring the vast volumes of nonfiction literature.

I love to learn, but it isn’t the knowledge that makes it enjoyable. I prefer what I have to do to gain the knowledge. For example: I like to solve riddles and puzzles. They’re brain food and it keeps me feeling mentally fit. The fastest way to make a riddle or puzzle boring is by telling me the answer. Now I have the knowledge but I no longer care about it. I will never feel satisfied with it because I was robbed of the excitement that comes when I work through the mess to find the answer. Reading nonfiction feels like that.

It isn’t fast like it would be if I were looking it up online, but what I loved about reading nonfiction like the biography of James Madison was that I was able to walk with him. That is the main reason I like Outliers.

I’ve written research papers and given presentations about a variety of topics while in school. If I was to count how many of them were entertaining or captivating I might be able to say… one, or possibly two, but the point is that making research fun for others is no easy task. Malcolm Gladwell is able to do this and that is why he is so successful. The other reason for his success is because he asks the questions we all want to ask but never do because we don’t believe the answer exists.

In Outliers, Gladwell takes a look at date of birth, nationality, and culture to show what makes someone successful enough to be an outsider. Before you get critical and think: “Date of birth has nothing to do with success,let me share something from the book.

Who are some of the biggest computer and software tycoons? Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Bill Joy are some of the big dogs. Do you know when they were born? The biggest names in the computer and software industry were all born within the years of 1954-1956. Coincidence? Maybe, but Gladwell gives a strong argument to prove his theory.

Reading is the gateway to knowledge and wisdom. Whether you are reading books, newspapers, magazines, or internet websites, you are learning. (The quality of that learning is a whole other issue). Gladwell doesn’t just teach fun facts, but he shows readers how they can become outliers. A big part of his book is the 10,000 hour principle: According to Gladwell’s theory, 10,000 hours, at the very least, is necessary to achieve master status.

This book inspired me to pursue my own passions with a renewed sense of enthusiasm. I’ve started writing daily, aiming for at least an hour a day, and I’m looking into joining a ju-jitsu class because I’ve wanted to for a long time but never had the motivation.

If other people read this book I hope you are also inspired to renew your goals, whatever they may be. The world needs more passionate people to bring their gifts to the world.

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2 Responses to Book #3: Outliers

  1. Michelle Melville says:

    I often refer back to the notion that it takes 10,000 hours to become the absolute expert at anything and 5,000-7,000 hours to become great at something. This gives me hope for the things I am passionate about and frees me from guilt about those things I am lukewarm about doing.
    For more nonfiction, check out “Freakonomics” by Stephen Leavitt and their online podcasts archives on Freakonomics Radio.com

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  2. Thank you for the recommendation. Several other people have also recommended this book to me. At first I didn’t give it much thought but with so many people giving it praise I will have to look into it.
    It also gives me hope for the same reasons. The 10,000 hour theory helps me put things into perspective and give greater consideration to where I put my time.

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