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10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Malcolm Gladwell — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Get enamored by human behavior and statistics

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Malcolm Gladwell — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Discover yourself with these awesome reads!

Malcolm Gladwell is a journalist and an author. He has written 7 books. He is also a podcaster and owns a podcast company called Pushkin Industries.

His book suggestions in today’s article focus on statistical analysis and human psychology.

Let’s go through a brief overview of each of them!

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Malcolm Gladwell — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

A cop and a prostitute… What’s going to happen?

Just like its predecessor ‘Freakonomics’, this book also examines how incentives shape the behavior of people. Incentives can be social, moral, or financial.

“People aren’t “good” or “bad.” People are people, and they respond to incentives.”

Humans can always be manipulated if we use the right levers.

The book examines a wealth of data and studies to bring us unique correlations. Some of them are funny. Others cause concern.

I do think that the book makes some oversights. But it is a good effort overall.

The authors talk about the decline in the cost of sex in the sex trade because of the increased availability of premarital sex. They also tell us that a Chicago prostitute is more likely to have sex with a cop than to be arrested by one.

The book also looks at various patterns such as the ages of soccer players.

“So it may be that going to the hospital slightly increases your odds of surviving if you’ve got a serious problem but increases your odds of dying if you don’t.”

The authors talk about solutions and fixes. Wearing seatbelts, and washing hands before an operation, are simple and low-cost solutions. That’s why they were easier to implement.

High-cost and complex solutions are harder to implement.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Malcolm Gladwell — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Why does a left tackle need to be tough?

This 2006 book examines football in America.

The book tells us about Lawrence Taylor and Michael Oher.

Lawrence Taylor was a New York Giants defender. He was offensive in his strategy.

Because of the defenders who played aggressively, the need for a strong left tackle arose.

“Courage is a hard thing to figure.”

Michael was a black teen who grew up in an impoverished environment.

Through luck, he found his way to a Christian Evangelical school, Briarcrest. There, he impressed the coaches at the school.

Later he grew close to the family of Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy and moved in with them.

The book tracks his performance as he chooses to play for the University of Mississippi.

The author also mentions an incident where Michael gets into a fight when someone insults Leigh Ann and her daughter.

Michael accidentally hurts a child in the vicinity and flees. The issue is kept under the radar and doesn’t affect his career.

“An NFL football field is a tightly strung economy. Everything on it comes at a price.”

Football fans would enjoy reading this book.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Malcolm Gladwell — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Are smartphones the cocaine of modern times?

It’s common sense. Technology addiction is dangerous for our psychological and physical health. And this addiction is on the rise.

“In 2008, adults spent an average of eighteen minutes on their phones per day; in 2015, they were spending two hours and forty-eight minutes per day.”

The book says that technology addiction is very common and acceptable as compared to substance addictions.

The internet is distracting. We itch to check our next notifications, emails, and messages. Why does it distract us?

Because it allows us to interact with a world beyond the one we are existing in. It also reprieves us from any kind of psychological pain.

“Addictive tech is part of the mainstream in a way that addictive substances never will be.”

Kids are more vulnerable to getting addicted. They score better on empathy tests and concentration when made to give up technology.

The book suggests replacing our habitual tech use with something productive.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Malcolm Gladwell — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

The power of looking into the eyes.

Brian Grazer is an award-winning Hollywood producer.

The message of his book is simple. Look up and connect face-to-face with people.

“People today are starving for genuine relationships, a sense of belonging, and the feeling of being known and understood.”

To communicate this, the author uses many of his experiences with people in Hollywood.

Grazer would avoid making eye contact with teachers in grade school. But in high school and college, his conversational and body reading skills blossomed.

The author says that he learns best by connecting with people. It is a central part of his life and helps him grow.

Grazer tells us about his various rejections. He learned how to use universal human emotions and stories when pitching his ideas. This was a game-changer.

“It is my secret to getting things done, reaching my goals, and feeling energized and empowered.”

Along with its very important lesson, this book will give you an inside scoop on Hollywood.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Malcolm Gladwell — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Early screening doesn’t necessarily save lives.

Is cancer testing more harmful than useful?

Let’s find out.

In this book, Welch discusses what the masses don’t know. Early diagnosis has very low to no effect on survival rate.

Instead, it allows for misdiagnosis and invasive treatment even when not needed.

You’ll be surprised to know this. Some cancers should be left on their own.

The author tells us about ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). That is sometimes diagnosed as breast cancer leading to invasive treatment.

Here is the reality.

40% of women in their 40s who died in car accidents showed evidence of DCIS. This was discovered through autopsy.

It means healthy women are living good lives with these cells. Most of the time they don’t cause any issues.

Reading the author’s thoughts reminds me of Nassim Taleb’s criticism of early medical intervention.

Here is what I think. When money is involved, be wary. In this case, the medical industry is earning.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Malcolm Gladwell — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Let’s dig out the hidden you.

We ignore our unconscious. But it is the one actually leading the way, most of the time without us knowing.

“A better working definition of the unconscious is mental processes that are inaccessible to consciousness but that influence judgments, feelings, or behavior.”

At a time, we are being bombarded with all sorts of sensory stimuli. Our unconscious mind picks up only the important ones.

Without it, we would have had trouble navigating this world.

What’s more?

Even children have an unconscious part of their mind that drives their behavior more than the conscious ones.

The author tells us that just like our physical immune system, we also have a psychological immune system that keeps us safe.

“… at any given moment, our five senses are taking in more than 11,000,000 pieces of information.”

Another interesting thing is that the adaptive unconscious doesn’t live in the past or future. It lives in the now only.

This book will help you meet the hidden you.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Malcolm Gladwell — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Pool or gun, what is worse?

The authors show us through examples from various fields of life… Things are not always as they seem.

For example: A swimming pool is 100 times more likely to kill a child as compared to a gun. But we hate guns, not swimming pools.


Because the image of a child dying through an accidental gunshot paints a far morbid picture in our heads.

“Experts depend on the fact that you don’t have the information they do.”

The book explores the asymmetry of information and how experts in every field rely on it.

Real estate agents keep their own homes on the market for an average of 10 days longer. They also profit more.

“It is well and good to opine or theorize about a subject, as humankind is wont to do, but when moral posturing is replaced by an honest assessment of the data, the result is often a new, surprising insight.”

The Internet has done a great job in shrinking this knowledge gap though. The authors acknowledge that as well.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Malcolm Gladwell — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

We see a pattern when there is none.

We don’t know what is going to happen, when it is going to happen, and what our role will be in it.

“No matter how sophisticated our choices, how good we are at dominating the odds, randomness will have the last word.”

The author opens our eyes to the truth. Life is random. It’s better to accept it.

Even in the case of financial success, luck has a great role. Taleb says that mild success can be explained by talent and hard work. But wild success can’t be explained by these only.

Taleb says that randomness and irrationality can be beneficial like in the case of art and religion.

Humans make decisions based on emotions. We were created to fool ourselves. And it is okay to accept that.

“It certainly takes bravery to remain skeptical; it takes inordinate courage to introspect, to confront oneself, to accept one’s limitations…”

This book will make you see the world differently.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Malcolm Gladwell — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Survival or well-being, what matters more?

Atul Gawande is a surgeon.

Through this book, he discusses end-of-life and hospice care.

“Living is a kind of skill. The calm and wisdom of old age are achieved over time.”

The author criticizes the fact that most of the time, the focus of medical staff, as well as family members is on survival rather than well-being.

He says that cancer patients who saw a palliative care specialist stop their chemotherapy sooner. They go into hospice, experience less suffering, and live 25% longer.

Gawande wants terminally ill patients to be informed about their mortality and to make decisions about it. He reflects that even doctors are ill-equipped to handle these important discussions.

“Two-thirds of the terminal cancer patients in the Coping with Cancer study reported having had no discussion with their doctors about their goals for end-of-life care, despite being, on average, just four months from death.”

The author says that those who did discuss the end-of-life decisions with their doctor had a better time at the end of their lives. Even their family members were less likely to fall into depression.

“Three Plagues of nursing home existence: boredom, loneliness, and helplessness.”

The book also examines the issues in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The activities of the elderly are severely diminished in the guise of care and survival. They are treated like preschoolers, the book says.

These facilities don’t want to be sued in case of injury or death.

10 Eye-Opening Books Recommended by Malcolm Gladwell — Prepare to Be Blown Away (Like I Was)

Doubt yourself!

Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist.

In this book, he tells us about our biases and blind spots.

“We listen to views that make us feel good, instead of ideas that make us think hard.”

The author motivates us to think like a scientist and to let data speak for itself. He also tells us to rethink and to be flexible.

One question that we should be asking ourselves and everyone else is ‘How do you know?’

In order to have a truly open mind and ability to rethink, we should be humble. The Latin roots of ‘humility’ means ‘from the earth’. It means being grounded.

Grant says that arrogance makes us blind to our weaknesses. Humility helps us see them.

Being humble isn’t equal to having low self-esteem. One can be humbly confident.

This makes total sense to me.

“Great thinkers don’t harbor doubts because they’re imposters. They maintain doubts because they know we’re all partially blind and they’re committed to improve their sight.”

This book will help you be more humble, flexible, and open-minded.


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If you enjoyed these book recommendations, check out the rest of my book lists on my blog-

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