I had no idea who Malcolm Gladwell was until I took his MasterClass last year (2019). I have since read every book he has written. I’ve read a handful of articles. Granted, he as been working as a staff writer for the New York Times since 1996, so there are tons of pieces he has written and I doubt I’ll ever read them all. Several have been included in some of his books. I found Mr. Gladwell fascinating. Both as a person and as a writer.
I have not yet tried a podcast, but Gladwell has one titled Revisionist History that I have been wanting to look into. Perhaps it will be my introduction to the world of podcasts. What I enjoy most about his books is the fact that he takes a plethora of historical events, most seemingly unrelated, and blends them together around an encompassing theme. He remains objective throughout his writing and expertly pulls in facts, interviews, and testimonies to deliver a tangible truth for an altered perspective.
I think one key thing his work has done for me is revive my interest in nonfiction. I’d always been interested in certain areas of nonfiction like science, biography, memoir, or history, but Gladwell can blend together historical and current events to show a glimpse of a human truth. His most recent and what I consider most impactful book, Talking to Strangers, is insightful because it delves into how we react to each other as human beings and dares to review what information, however minute, we use to prepare ourselves when interacting with someone for the first time. It shows what split-second information we deem important which reveals a lot about who we are as part of a community.
I mainly read fiction but I have developed the habit of simultaneously reading a work of nonfiction, so I am always reading one work of fiction and one work of nonfiction at any given time. I usually read the fiction books much faster, but I like to continually be working through a book of essays or history or some form of nonfiction so I am learning something new about the world instead of always escaping into other worlds. Gladwell’s works really caught my interest and showed me areas in history I had never heard of before, or discussed current events I had missed or never knew what had actually happened.
I think being an informed citizen is important and getting information extracted from in-depth research is key to this. It is easy to simply read a headline without checking a source and leap onto a soapbox. It is another thing entirely to ensure the information is legitimate and based on fact instead of opinion. It is way too easy to spread ideas because of the internet. You can take this post for example. I’m spreading my opinion of Malcolm Gladwell simply on the basis that I like him and his work. I’m stating my opinion and you are reading this (thank you) because you are interested in either my opinion or Gladwell himself (or both). The “media” has been a hot topic the past several years and the distribution of information has been somewhat discredited, which is frightening because information has power. It can shape the way we think, act, or react. I don’t want to tangent into a rant about what is right or wrong or who should be believed here. All I want to say is that we should all be informed, check the sources, make sure we are not being told a partial narrative (or fabricated one), and try to do what we can to make things better.
I believe Malcolm Gladwell relies on facts and testimonies to bring his desired points across within his work. He doesn’t include his opinion or bias without explicitly stating that he is doing so. This is admirable. Which is why I decided to include Malcolm Gladwell in my On Authors series. He hasn’t written a fictional world I believe to be important. He writes about the real world in an important way. I hope you read his work if you have not already. He has covered a wide range of topics and a few are likely to catch your interest. I look forward to reading more his work myself.