outliers: the story of success

This is a breathtaking, fascinating look at what success means for today’s society, and I enjoyed this book more than Blink if only because this one is so much more optimistic and hopeful. It has important lessons for all of us in the dangers of thinking of a successful person as someone who made him or herself independently, without any outside help; the better, more productive way to think of success, Gladwell suggests, is as a group effort, a series of lucky breaks and opportunities combined with innate talent and hard work and never giving up or letting those once in a lifetime moments pass by. I cried reading about the achievement gap in schools. It would be so easy to fix the summer slide, a loss of learning during summer vacation that is especially devastating to students from lower-income families and that we are all complicit in because we act like summer vacation is a uncontested right of American children, but we keep wrongly associating failure with lower potential. Gladwell also addresses the importance of family history and cultural background in a very sensitive but also logical way – why Asians tend to be better at math, for instance, or what makes pilots from one country better or worse at avoiding plane crashes than pilots from another country. I’d recommend this book to everyone and will definitely be reading it again.

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