Recently, I finished my first Malcolm Gladwell book and became a huge fan, so it’s fitting that I found a copy of Blink by Gladwell between then and now and it became book #57 of the year. (I tend to get obsessed/consumed with things.)
So Blink is Gladwell’s second novel, written before Outliers. It could be the proximity between the reading of these two books, or I just wasn’t as engaged as I expected to be, but I wasn’t feeling Blink as much as. I finished Outliers in a day, and Blink took a little bit longer. I did still really like it and I did learn a lot.
The subtitle to this book is The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, which immediately grabbed my attention. I’ve always been interested in this idea of first impressions and how important they are in shaping relationships and interactions. We make so many snap judgments, consciously and unconsciously, within the first few seconds of meeting someone for the first time. That’s pretty insane when you think about it.
So Gladwell’s goal in Blink was to analyze those snap judgments, and help to discern when they’re useful to heed vs. when they become detrimental. He uses real-world examples ranging a wide variety of topics from ancient art to food and drink taste-tests to successful used-car salesmen strategies.
As in Outliers, here Gladwell shows his amazing talent for analyzing a lot of information and bringing it together in a cohesive way that proves a point one might not have thought of when looking at all the information separately. (Does that even make sense?)
I guess I just admire Gladwell’s curiosity. When setting out to write a book like this, I don’t know that I would have immediately gone to all of the examples that he uses, so that was pretty impressive. There was just something about it that didn’t grip me the way his last book did, but it was definitely still interesting.
Especially relevant was his chapter on an event that took place in the Bronx in 1999, involving four white police officers, 41 total shots fired, and the death of an unarmed black man. This is sadly a scenario, over 15 years later. Gladwell is calling into question why this kind of situation is so common.
He’s able to come up with some really interesting explanations involving a separate study done on people with autism. That was one of the most interesting chapters to me, so I’m being intentionally vague so you will read it and find out how he brings it all together.
My Malcolm Gladwell conclusions are as follows: I preferred Outliers, this still really made me want to read The Tipping Point, humans are still fascinating, and Gladwell is able to write about them in equally fascinating ways. ◊