As a whole, Outliers took a really interesting approach towards answering the question about why some people are much more successful than others. I t...moreAs a whole, Outliers took a really interesting approach towards answering the question about why some people are much more successful than others. I think with Gladwell though, you have to read him and take what he's saying as something meant to give you a different perspective.
I agree with some of his critics that some of his theories are not thoroughly explained. The trap of Gladwell is that you might get enticed by his admittedly fluid writing style and take what he's saying as absolute truth. But if you take the trap of treating his theories as complete poppycock, you're also doing a disservice and not getting anything from his books.
Ultimately if you read this book, the best thing to do is to just take in what he's saying as an alternative explanation for success and see how it applies to your life. He brings up some really valid and interesting points, like how your birthday, background, and work ethic really make a difference in an individual's success. It's interesting, and thought provoking which is what a good book *should* be. Yes you should read it critically, but reading critically doesn't mean finding flaws and hating a book because its popular to do so/it's not perfect.
I will criticize his definition of "success". Success is relative and Bill Gates' kind of success may not be success for the majority of people.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and Gladwell really knows how write in terms of making non-fiction read like a story. It's engaging and interesting and the validity of its content is wholly up to the reader. But I think it's worth a read. (less)
Some books have great word of mouth. This is not one of them. Among my book-nerd friends, Gravity's Rainbow was described with words such as "difficul...moreSome books have great word of mouth. This is not one of them. Among my book-nerd friends, Gravity's Rainbow was described with words such as "difficult" and "dense," or met with scrunched up noses of disdain. One friend saw me carrying the book and threw her hands up with a cry of "Oh god, Pynchon !?!?!"
After 3 months, I can understand why Pynchon and Gravity's Rainbow can elicit such a reaction from even die-hard book lovers. It's by no means an easy read; it is dense, jam-packed and at 776 pages, a bit of a mental marathon. If you're not familiar with World War II's general timeline of events, the setting and the plot can seem like a giant maze filled with twists and turns of unrelated references, digressions and pages upon pages of pointless distractions. It is definitely hard to keep up with the astronomical number of characters--some who only appear for one "chapter"--who appear and reappear seemingly at random.
However, I can recognize that there is indeed a spark of genius within the madness. Whether or not that genius is something that speaks to you, however, very much depends on your personal preferences for literature. If you want a fast page-turner, this will not be your cup of tea. Pynchon is certainly skilled with his wordplay and there's quite a bit to chew on intellectually--but the information deluge can be understandably overwhelming.
Perhaps foolishly, I tackled Gravity's Rainbow without reading Crying Lot of 49 or V. Some say that reading either before Gravity's Rainbow makes it easier to read and appreciate. In my personal opinion, I don't know how much merit that holds and depends on the individual. I think even the most seasoned reader will have to double back over certain passages. This is definitely a book that's meant to be read multiple times to get the full force of what Pynchon is trying to say.
Was the possibility of understanding that meaning worth the monumental effort? I'm not sure I got the "message" and most certainly didn't understand everything that was going on. I enjoyed a lot of passages, but powered through a lot of them as well. Will I pick up this book for a re-read? Maybe, but not anytime soon. But I'm not about to run away and cry in despair should I see another Pynchon book in the future.