Anyone reading or who has recently read [Outliers]?

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Anyone reading or who has recently read [Outliers]?

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Jun 7, 2011, 6:01am

I just finished reading Outliers and wrote a comprehensive summary of it (not a review). This is the first step of a paper I'm working on, regarding the efficiency for long-term recall of reading summaries of non-fiction books vs. the actual book as a memory refresh tool.

It would be great if someone who has recently read the book could take a look at the summary and tell me how "good" it is. A "good" summary of a non-fiction book would have the following qualities:
* neutrality (not injecting personal opinion or other elements of a review)
* however, updates since the book was published are permitted, provided they cite reliable sources and do not constitute original research (a policy very similar to Wikipedia's)
* accuracy (the book author's ideas, rather than the summary author's, are correctly represented; the caveat from "neutrality" applies still, in that factual criticism could be mentioned, if properly referenced)
* coverage (the most important ideas in the book should be covered; a chapter-by-chapter summary would likely attain good coverage)
* encyclopedic style (clarity, precision, relevance, logic)

What do you think of the criteria for a "good" summary? How "good" do you think this summary is?


Mar 10, 2016, 9:37am

Hey! Here's a review I wrote on Malcom Gladwell's "Outliers"!

How Did the Tallest Tree Get So Tall?

Seeds grow. That is their job, their purpose. But what makes one tree taller than the other? Growing in the perfect combination of weather conditions, timing and location among other trees is what allows one tree to achieve the greatest heights of the forest. Bill Gates is a tall tree. Steve Jobs is a tall tree. Male hockey players born in January, February or March are tall trees too. But what sets these successful people apart from their counterparts is not their innate ability to “grow” but the special circumstances they so luckily encountered. In Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell explains this phenomenon and delves into the crucial events that shaped the lives of these successful people.
After reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, my view on success has been turned upside down. I used to be a big believer in hard work being the only thing holding you back from achieving your goals, but after reading I have realized luck has a lot more to do with it than I’d imagined. Success is the result of a mix of factors, not simply one’s individual talent. Gladwell makes compelling argumentative claims that the secret to success is not just talent but mix of timing, luck, demographic and roughly 10 thousand of hours of practice.
We as people like to believe in the story of the underdog who worked his way to the top with nothing but pure determination. Gladwell states, “our hero is born in modest circumstances and by true virtue of his own grit and talent fights his way to greatness” (18). But that is not the case. He continues, “people don’t rise from nothing. We do owe something to parentage and patronage” (19). If becoming someone successful, an outlier among the masses, requires a minimum of ten-thousand hours of preparation, there are only a few people who may have the opportunity to seize that much time for practice. If Bill Gates had not had access to top of the line computer in the eighth grade, he would not have been able to log his ten-thousand hours by the time he reached college. Mozart was twenty-one when he composed his first masterwork, which would not have been possible had he not been composing musical pieces since age ten. If the Beatles weren’t given the opportunity to perform at Hamburg where they would play for eight hours straight seven days a week at times, they wouldn’t have reached their success. If male ice hockey players weren’t born in January, February and March, they wouldn’t be physically mature enough to be selected for elite teams that offer more practice time. But how could these successful people reach their ten-thousand hours by young adulthood? With the help of their parents. Gladwell makes the claim, “you have to have parents who encourage and support you. You can’t be poor, because if you have to hold down a part-time job on the side to help make ends meet there won’t be time left in the day to practice enough. In fact, most people can reach that number only if they get into some kind of special program—like a hockey all-star squad—or if they get some kind of extraordinary opportunity that gives them a chance to put in those hours” (42). Without the parental support and financial means to get to ten-thousand hours, it is unlikely that anyone will succeed in those circumstances.
Once the reader understands how successful people are made, Gladwell addresses the idea of cultural legacies. He tackles the stigma of why Chinese people are better at math than people of other ethnicities. The explanation to why Chinese children dominate in math classrooms is because of their written language. The Chinese language makes numbers and mathematical concepts easier for young children to understand, therefore giving them an edge early on and making math easier for them to pick up. Gladwell then goes broader to make a statement about the American education system in general. Summer vacation takes away learning opportunities for less fortunate students as they are not able to access stimulating environments that wealthier students’ parents may give them. This issue with the schooling system hits a nerve with Gladwell to make the point that the poorer students will not be successful because they are not given equal opportunities.
In Outliers, Gladwell aspires to transform the way we understand success. He does a great job of presenting mind-blowing, controversial topics and making it easy for the reader to wrap their head around. Outliers was an easy read and hard to put down at times, so much so that I’ve already recommended it to a few friends. The voice Gladwell uses is very welcoming, I can’t imagine it was easy for an author with this merit and agenda for this book to avoid coming across as intimidating and overwhelming. Although there are many topics I know nothing about presented in this book, like men’s hockey, computer programming and composing musical masterpieces, I was able to gain a better understanding of numerous different fields.
Gladwell seeks to address society as a whole, as sort of a call to action to make the necessary changes for equal opportunity among all people. He brings all his arguments together in the statement, “to build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages that today determine success—the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history—with a society that provides opportunities for all” (268). Given equal opportunities of light and nourishment, every tree in the forest can grow to be its tallest.

Mar 10, 2016, 10:12am

>2 mcronce1: It's a FIVE year old topic. Your review appears to be a synopsis, except that I've read Outliers, and I'm not too sure you get it. In addition, you have zero books, and zero reviews here on LT, and you just joined today.

Consider paragraph breaks, and use a blank line between each paragraph for ease of reading. Are those things in parens page numbers? If they are, you probably should have noted that somewhere, as well as precisely *which* edition you're reviewing, since not all copies will have the same number of pages, or use the same typeface, among other issues.

I'm interested to note (for the sake of anyone else reading my vaguely annoyed rant) that your copy you seem to be referring to is the same as mine, which is a hardcover, ISBN 978-0-316-01792-3, US version, 2008, 309 pages. It doesn't exist in my LT library, as of yet.

Malcolm isn't always right about things. I'd be happy to poke holes in this theory some other day, but right now I'm content to understand why it is that you posted this review here, in this out of the way corner of LT, as one of your first moments here on LT.

Add some books. Lurk for a bit. Feel your way around.

Consider that your review would have been more useful added to the actual book (not that it needs more reviews, since it seems to already have plenty.

Feh. I need more coffee.

Mar 10, 2016, 1:55pm

I think this new member was just excited to be here and wanted to contribute their two cents for the day. The same review was put on a new thread as well, but that seems to have satisfied mcronce1