BookList

Outliers: Malcolm Gladwell: Back Bay Books: 2011 (paperback edition)

My first economics class was AP Economics in high school. My teacher was… good enough, although one day, after assigning Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, he advised me to discontinue pursuing economics. He felt I didn’t have natural aptitude for the soft science. This would be fine if it were true, but, its not and I was offended. A bachelor’s degree in economics and a few Gladwell books later, I’m still a sucker for both. Few are capable of Gladwell’s concise insight and humor and I’m still so very pleased with his work.

Essentially, it’s a lot like the age old nature vs. nurture debate. To a degree… is success something that comes about through a strong, driven individual through his/her merit, perseverance and innate gifts? Or are people just like anything else… with enough money, attention, help, love and time, can they become the next Bill Gates? Bill Joy? Bill Clinton?

NYTimes Review snippet:

At the end of this revisionist tale, Gladwell asks Gates himself how many other teenagers in the world had as much experience as he had by the early 1970s. “If there were 50 in the world, I’d be stunned,” Gates says. “I had a better exposure to software development at a young age than I think anyone did in that period of time, and all because of an incredibly lucky series of events.” Gates’s talent and drive were surely unusual. But Gladwell suggests that his opportunities may have been even more so.

Many people, I think, have an instinctual understanding of this idea (even if Gladwell, in the interest of setting his thesis against conventional wisdom, doesn’t say so). That’s why parents spend so much time worrying about what school their child attends. They don’t really believe the child is so infused with greatness that he or she can overcome a bad school, or even an average one. And yet when they look back years later on their child’s success — or their own — they tend toward explanations that focus on the individual. Devastatingly, if cheerfully, Gladwell exposes the flaws in these success stories we tell ourselves.

Flow: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: Harper Perennial: 1990

This book was recommended to me by a homeless woman I met on Newbury street a few years ago named Ellen. The idea is kind of nice… boiling it all down leads to the belief that finding happiness stems from truly being in the moment and harnessing the beauty and complexity that’s encapsulated in our experiences, moments, tasks, what have you. It’s essentially a self-help book, if I had to commit it to a genre– I do tend to avoid self-help books, but when a sagely, lucid woman solicits your attention from a trash laden thrown on the steps of a church that’s probably overlooked by thousands of people a day, you take notice.

Ellen used to be a school teacher, as it turned out. She was poised, soft-spoken and sharp. If fate had handed her such a harsh set of circumstances, then no one’s really covered. And instead of being bitter about it, she pulled me into her world and suggested I read a book she thought was nice. Then she told me to come to the church on Thursdays because that’s when they get really great designer clothes that people donate because she thought I looked stylish and said she knew “how hard it is for students out there”. I was stunned into silence after that last part and I wanted to feel sad for her, but I just kept thinking about how much better she was than the general human population for wanting to still do nice things after all that she had (probably) been through.

If this were a Jim Carey movie, we would all find out Ellen was just a manifestation of the almighty as the final credits started rolling. I kept going back, unsuccessfully, every so often to see if I could see her again. She’s gone forever. But not from my heart. Miss you, Ellen.

Generic summary you’ll find on Google: “Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s famous investigations of “optimal experience” have revealed that what makes an experience genuinely satisfying is a state of consciousness calledflow. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, creativity, and a total involvement with life. In this new edition of his groundbreaking classic work, Csikszentmihalyi demonstrates the ways this positive state can be controlled, not just left to chance. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness and greatly improve the quality of our lives.”

The Social Animal: David Brooks: Random House: 2011

20110723-104529.jpg

One part behavioral psychologists digest. One part emotional account of the characters lives. Interwoven nicely so I’m not bored of the various experiment’s name dropping and explanations. Good, solid read through LIFE and the Way Things Work!

From The Guardian: To bring order to this messy-sounding fusion, he invents two characters called Harold and Erica, both contemporary Americans. Harold is “a popular, athletic high-school boy who also showed flashes of idealism”. White, middle class and slightly under-motivated, he has a comfortable, loving upbringing followed by an intermittently fulfilling career as a management consultant, then a historian, then a think-tank intellectual. His wife Erica is, in predictable ways, very different: half Chinese-American and half Mexican-American, raised in poverty and relentlessly driven. She sets up her own company, moves on to reform a giant conglomerate, and ends up a big player in Washington politics.

As Brooks follows Harold and Erica from childhood to retirement, and describes the other people they interact with, he weaves in digressions on everything from IQ to the unconscious, toddler development to school discipline, management fads to modern political campaigning. The book grows into a strange hybrid: part science primer, part polemic, part self-help, part satire and part melodramatic novel. The tone shifts wildly: from wide-eyed wonder at the discoveries of science to world-weariness at the current state of western political discourse. The factual sections, which draw hungrily on scores of academic and more popular sources, are sometimes deftly integrated into the story, and sometimes not. The fictional sections are sometimes delicately drawn, even moving, and sometimes embarrassingly schematic.

The Imperfectionists: Tom Rachman: The Dial Press: 2010

I really love books about a variety of characters who’s lives are intertwined because they offer a circumspect view of their interactions and experiences. We see their perspectives through their own subjective lens and we are offered a richness that well surpasses that of one continuous point of view. Rachman’s vocabulary is utilized almost perfectly, he’s witty and he navigates the endless ocean that lies between language and sentiment skillfully.

It all surrounds the newsroom of a decomposing English language international paper based in Rome and the theme that’s carried out through the stories of his characters is actually Joyce-like.  I liked this so much–it was one of those books I wished would never end.

Here’s a passage about Lloyd, my favorite story in his collection:

He peers into the back of the shop.

“They’re not here yet,” she snaps.

“Who aren’t?”

“The girls.”

“Your workers? Why are you telling me that?”

“You got here too early. Bad timing.” Charlotte claims that Lloyd has pursued every woman she ever introduced him to, starting with her best friend at lycée, Nathalie, who came along for a vacation to Antibes once and lost her bikini top in the waves. Charlotte caught Lloyd watching. Thankfully, she never learned that matters eventually went much further between her father and Nathalie.

But all that is over. Finished, finally. So senseless in retrospect—such effort wasted. Libido: it has been the tyrant of his times, hurling him from comfortable America all those years ago to sinful Europe for adventure and conquest, marrying him four times, tripping him up a hundred more, distracting and degrading and nearly ruining him. Yet now it is mercifully done with, desire having dwindled these past years, as mysterious in departure as it was on arrival. For the first time since age twelve, Lloyd witnesses the world without motive. And he is quite lost.

18 Responses to “BookList”

  1. love October 29, 2011 at 8:16 am #

    Greeeeeeeeat Blog Love the Infomation you have provided me .

    • Flite November 8, 2011 at 6:11 am #

      Great! Thanks for the share!
      Arron

  2. Tommie Maidonado February 1, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in Opera. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know. The style and design look great though! Hope you get the problem fixed soon. Thanks

  3. 抓姦蒐證 April 3, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    I find myself coming back to your web-site only because you have lots of awesome insights and also you happen to be at this a while, which is very impressive and tells me you know your stuff.

  4. lapson koo April 10, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    ove the site will be bookmarking for future reference. Keep up the good work pal.

  5. aminoacids April 12, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    This publication has inspired me to start writing on my own blog

  6. a amino acid April 13, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    You have remarked very interesting details! ps nice site.

  7. Chase Dersch June 11, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    Keep functioning ,fantastic job!

  8. Logan Reising February 6, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    I just want to say I’m very new to blogging and site-building and seriously liked your blog. Almost certainly I’m likely to bookmark your blog . You actually come with remarkable article content. Regards for sharing your web page.

  9. msvcp100.dll July 16, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!

  10. mobile games April 15, 2014 at 5:26 am #

    I hardly leave a response, but after reading through a few of the responses on
    BookList | Formula 457. I do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright.
    Could it be just me or does it look like like a few of these comments appear like they are coming from brain dead visitors?
    😛 And, if you are posting at additional places,
    I’d like to keep up with everything new you have to post.
    Would you make a list of all of all your social community sites
    like your linkedin profile, Facebook page
    or twitter feed?

  11. the quiet ones movie free April 23, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Article writing is also a excitement, if you be acquainted with after that you can write
    otherwise it is complex to write.

  12. pet rescue saga cheats May 1, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Piece of writing writing is also a fun, if you know after that you can write if
    not it is difficult to write.

  13. dumb ways to die cheats ipad May 1, 2014 at 3:20 pm #

    Every weekend i used to pay a quick visit this
    web page, for the reason that i want enjoyment, since this this web site conations really fastidious
    funny material too.

  14. real racing 3 cheats May 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    Can you tell us more about this? I’d care to find out
    more details.

  15. clumsy ninja cheats May 26, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    When someone writes an piece of writing
    he/she retains the thought of a user in his/her brain that
    how a user can know it. Therefore that’s why this paragraph is great.

    Thanks!

  16. lite forex May 27, 2014 at 2:43 am #

    В этом что-то есть. Буду знать, большое
    спасибо за объяснение.

  17. domain October 11, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. That is
    a really neatly written article. I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to learn extra of your useful information.
    Thank you for the post. I will certainly return.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: