Our first book of 2013 is Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: The Story of Success.
Malcolm Gladwell is a psychologist, journalist, cultural commentator, and writer for the New Yorker Magazine. His first book The Tipping Point captured the world's attention with its theory that a curiously small change can have unforeseen effects. His other international bestselling books include Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking and What The Dog Saw, a collection of his most provocative and entertaining New Yorker pieces.
'Gladwell is not only a brilliant storyteller; he can see what those stories tell us, the lessons they contain'
'Malcolm Gladwell is a global phenomenon ... he has a genius for making everything he writes seem like an impossible adventure'
'He is the best kind of writer - the kind who makes you feel like you're a genius, rather than he's a genius'
Malcolm Gladwell poses a provocative question in Outliers: why do some people succeed, living remarkably productive and impactful lives, while so many more never reach their potential? Challenging our cherished belief of the "self-made man," he makes the democratic assertion that superstars don't arise out of nowhere, propelled by genius and talent: "they are invariably the beneficiaries of hidden advantages and extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways others cannot." Examining the lives of outliers from Mozart to Bill Gates, he builds a convincing case for how successful people rise on a tide of advantages, "some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky."
Outliers can be enjoyed for its bits of trivia, like why most pro hockey players were born in January, how many hours of practice it takes to master a skill, why the descendents of Jewish immigrant garment workers became the most powerful lawyers in New York, how a pilots' culture impacts their crash record, how a centuries-old culture of rice farming helps Asian kids master math. But there's more to it than that. Throughout all of these examples--and in more that delve into the social benefits of lighter skin color, and the reasons for school achievement gaps--Gladwell invites conversations about the complex ways privilege manifests in our culture. He leaves us pondering the gifts of our own history, and how the world could benefit if more of our kids were granted the opportunities to fulfill their remarkable potential.
The session kicks off at 2pm and lasts approximately 2 hours. A sheet with a some key questions arising from the text will be used to frame the discussion. It's a creative session where everyone is encouraged to contribute and share.
If you didn't attend the previous meeting and need to get your hands on the book, Brixton Library has a few copies remaining. If you fancy a trip to Brixton you can take it out on loan (best to email me first before going!). Alternatively you can buy it on Amazon.co,uk for just over £6 here (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Outliers-Story-Success-Malcolm-Gladwell/dp/0141036257). Kindle version also available.
The library is in the heart of Brixton, with numerous travel options including tube, train and bus. If driving you should have little trouble finding free parking nearby on a Sunday.