Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I still think Malcolm Gladwell is a genius, even though I didn't like this book as much as I have his others.

The whole premise of the book is that smarts and talent alone aren't enough to guarantee success - a measure of good luck and being born at the right time in the right place comes into it.

Gladwell profiles a number of highly successful people and looks at what how they got where they are. For most, including Bill Gates, it was something like having access to a computer lab at a time when such a thing was a luxury. If Bill Gates hadn't gone to a private school that installed a computer lab and hadn't been able to work at the lab at the University of Washington, Microsoft might never have come into being.

To prove his point, Gladwell also profiles a man who has one of the highest IQ scores ever recorded, and shows how the hasn't "succeeded" in life because he didn't have the same types of opportunities that others have had.

I found the book strangely depressing, and I can't quite put my finger on why.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Know-it-All

I read A.J. Jacob's book The Year of Living Biblically, and I loved it. So I finally remembered to put in a request for this book at the library. And, again, I loved the book.

The book chronicles Jacobs' task of reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover, a feat his father attempted and failed at. Jacobs, however, makes it. In the book, Jacobs does a good job of including fun facts he's learned and incorporating them into his life. He also writes about his trip to the EB publishers and his not-so-good attempt at editing an entry.

I love trivia and details and facts. My brain absorbs them without my even trying or realizing that I'm doing it. So there were many times while reading the book that I thought, "I want to do this!" But then I'd read about the sacrifices Jacobs made to complete this task, which took more than a year, and how gruelling reading could be, and I'd change my mind.

Maybe it would be better if I skim the EB instead.