This is the first book that I have read by Malcolm Gladwell, but if his other two books (The Tipping Point and Blink) are anything like this one, the man is a genius when it comes to synthesizing information. Synthesizing is not the exact word that I want, but what I mean is he has an incredible ability to bring together information from all sorts of studies, creating a pattern that he shows to his readers to make his point. His point in Outliers is that our notion of success is flawed. We love to believe in the self-made man, the super successful genius who pulled himself up by his bootstraps, came from nothing or nowhere, and became an icon of success. However, Gladwell shows that this myth is simply not true; for every super successful person, he can show examples of people who are just as talented, and could have been just as successful, but for whom life did not provide the lucky breaks it did for the success stories. (This is not meant to lessen the genius of those successes in any way - it just gives a different perspective on their lives.)
Gladwell's examples range from the Beatles to Bill Gates, from Jewish lawyers in New York to Chinese children and mathematics. In every single chapter there was something that I absolutely had to share with my husband while I was reading - really, I would have just read the whole book to him if I had the chance. The most fascinating information I found was his description of cultural legacies, and how those continue to affect us on all levels.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I was unable to provide a category for it in my labels, but anyone who enjoys reading will enjoy this book. It is fascinating, especially if you are a non-fiction reader. But even fiction readers will find themselves hooked!