I have always been intrigued by Malcom Gladwell’s books, such as Blink, Tipping Point, and Outliers. I find his explanations and theories fascinating as he chooses to make sense of the world and explain why things are the way they are. I was giddy to find his latest book at the book store called What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures.
This book is a collection of his countless articles from The New Yorker that he grouped into three sections: Part One – Obsessives, Pioneers, and Other Varieties of Minor Genius, Part Two – Theories, Predictions, and Diagnoses, and Part Three – Personality, Character, and Intelligence. Malcolm has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1996.
His writing does exactly what he says in the preface of this book: “Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. Good writing succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head – even if in the end you conclude that someone else’s head is not a place you’d really like to be. He calls his pieces adventures.” I love it!
So, why should you read and devour this book? Malcolm makes me wonder about things I never knew or thought about it before. He makes me question and ponder our strange, exciting, and creative world. Here are just some of the questions you will learn more about in this book:
Why has mustard been so successful in many varieties, but ketchup has stayed the same?
How did Ron Popeil revolutionize marketing in America?
Can you believe hair dye and their slogans (“Does she or doesn’t she?” or “Because I’m worth it”) revolutionized society for women in Postwar America?
How can we solve homelessness rather than manage it?
Can you be a “genius” by working at something for 20 years or more?
Is success of the late-bloomer highly contingent on the efforts of others or the team around them that makes it possible?
How long should you give your spouse to pursue their dreams if they are not making money? Would you (as a woman) be able to allow your spouse to follow their dreams for years on end while you made money to support the household?
Should we get rid of the space shuttle and other technological advances due to the possibility of catastrophe?
Do we really want the safest of all possible worlds?
Why do some people fail where others don’t under pressure?
Is “choking” or thinking too much and losing instinct a sign of failure?
Is mammography even worth it? Does it really save lives?
Why are more people not on birth control, especially if the birth control pill restrains cell division, and a woman who takes the pill for ten years cuts her ovarian-cancer risk by around 70 percent and her endometrial-cancer risk by around 60 percent?
Should teachers be judged after they have been hired? Should a different system be in place to whittle out the best teachers and keep those that are successful by offering them a healthy reward?
Do dogs that attack or are vicious have certain kinds of predictable owners?
Do dogs like pit bulls really have aggressive tendencies or are they a result of a category problem?
Can you determine the killer based on the crime scene?
Did you know there is a difference in personality type when there is an organized killer versus a disorganized killer?
Does a crime scene murder reflect the murderer’s behavior and personality?