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10 Recommended Books by Malcolm Gladwell That Will Expand Your Brain(No, I’m Not Kidding)

Level up your thinking game

10 Recommended Books by Malcolm Gladwell That Will Expand Your Brain(No, I’m Not Kidding)

Let’s unlock the secret chambers of our brains.

We haven’t fully tapped into the power of our minds. Sometimes we are hindered by our own biases. Other times, we don’t have the right information.

Learning what we don’t know can open our eyes and help us make the right decision.

From ‘integrated thinking’ to the need for social connections, Maxwell Gladwell’s book recommendations spill the beans on all of it.

Reading them will be well worth your time.

10 Recommended Books by Malcolm Gladwell That Will Expand Your Brain(No, I’m Not Kidding)

Come down from your high horse.

In a world where everyone thinks they know the right thing, this book is like a breath of fresh air.

The author tells us to be humble by acknowledging that we don’t know everything. He opens our minds to our blind spots and biases.

Research shows that people who think they are better at something are usually worse at it.

“If knowledge is power, knowing what we don’t know is wisdom.”

Grant warns us to not think like politicians, preachers, or prosecutors.

In preacher mode, we stick to one view and think we are right. In prosecutor mode, we attack others’ positions. In politician mode, we change our opinion according to circumstances.

“We learn more from people who challenge our thought process than those who affirm our conclusions.”

We should think like scientists. Treating our opinions as hypotheses or assumptions while seeking opposing information.

Even if we genuinely think someone is wrong, we should be curious. How did they form their views?

By asking the right questions we can change people’s minds.

Intelligence is known to be the ability to “think and learn”. The author says that even more important is the ability to “rethink and unlearn.”

This is a very important read for everyone so we may be open-minded and more accepting of each other.

10 Recommended Books by Malcolm Gladwell That Will Expand Your Brain(No, I’m Not Kidding)

This book will freak you out.

An economist and a journalist wrote this book. They use their experience to draw the unseen out of the ordinary.

The results of various studies and research in this book will make you dumbfounded.

All human actions are governed by incentives. Incentives are of three types, economic, moral, and social.

Most people don’t commit crimes. Why?

  • They don’t want to go to jail, lose their jobs (economic incentive)

  • They don’t want to feel like they did a bad thing (moral incentive)

  • They don’t want others to label them as bad (social incentive)

“When moral posturing is replaced by an honest assessment of the data, the result is often a new, surprising insight.”

Studying the data on human behavior gives us interesting results about the real incentives behind people’s actions.

For example, when the people who donated blood were given a small stipend (economic incentive) for their donation, the blood donations went down. Getting paid trumped the moral incentive of donating blood.

A fascinating book that will make your jaw drop at every other page.

10 Recommended Books by Malcolm Gladwell That Will Expand Your Brain(No, I’m Not Kidding)

What do your smartphone and cocaine have in common?

Adam Alter sounds the alarm on technology addiction.

Tech addiction is like drug addiction although we rarely make that connection.

Scrolling on our phones gives us a dopamine hit. The amount of dopamine gets smaller as we scroll more. Hence we keep doing it to get to a higher level i.e. we get addicted.

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

As a result of technology addiction, our attention spans are getting smaller, our sleep is getting affected and we are unable to focus on work.

Alter doesn’t only tell us about the negative effects of technology but he also gives us solutions.

“To some extent we all need losses and difficulties and challenges, because without them the thrill of success weakens gradually with each new victory.”

The key is to rewrite your habit loop. For example, instead of picking up the phone, pick up a book or something else that you can do with your hands. Keep repeating until the new habit is formed.

If you kick your smartphone addiction to the curb, you will notice improvements in all aspects of your life.

This book intends to help you with that.

10 Recommended Books by Malcolm Gladwell That Will Expand Your Brain(No, I’m Not Kidding)

Story of two kids who wanted to make a name for themselves.

This book is a memoir of musician Patti Smith detailing her relationship with the photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe.

They started as kids, became lovers, and later friends.

“…I was a bad girl trying to be good and that he was a good boy trying to be bad. Through the years these roles would reverse, then reverse again, until we came to accept our dual natures.”

Their coming-of-age story is gripping and profound.

At one time, they lived in a cramped apartment while pursuing their creative endeavors. They even ate stale cookies for dinner.

“I had no proof that I had the stuff to be an artist, though I hungered to be one.”

Ultimately, the pair moved to the Chelsea Hotel and met many creatives of their time.

The author takes us through the various highs and lows of their life and friendship.

“It’s the artist’s responsibility to balance mystical communication and the labor of creation.”

Mapplethorpe died of AIDS with Smith by his side, a moment that Smith details in her book.

Not only is this an emotional memoir, but it will also give you a look into the New York artistic scene of the 60s and 70s.

10 Recommended Books by Malcolm Gladwell That Will Expand Your Brain(No, I’m Not Kidding)

Hate people? You might want to rethink that.

Humans aren’t meant to live alone.

Murthy, a surgeon by profession, makes us ponder on the importance and need for quality social connections.

Loss of social connection is the reason behind mental health issues and drug addiction.

“…this is the reality of being human, that we have the capacity to love people — family, friends, and strangers — even if we profoundly disagree with them.”

The most interesting thing in this book is the importance of solitude. The book is about combating loneliness. How come the author is telling us to embrace solitude?

When we are comfortable with ourselves, we form better connections with our fellows.

Activities for solitude include meditation, art, and spending time outdoors.

We are losing the human connection because of technology. Another reason is the cultural shift towards individualism.

“Today it’s widely understood that one of the most important factors in preventing and addressing toxic stress in children is healthy social connection.”

This book will make you reflect deeply on the need to combat the pandemic of loneliness.

10 Recommended Books by Malcolm Gladwell That Will Expand Your Brain(No, I’m Not Kidding)

The power of friendship in the Oval Office.

Most of the American president’s lives have been explored. Marriages, affairs, leadership qualities, and pets.

Ginsberg realized that there is one group of people who haven’t been talked about. That is the presidents’ best friends.

“…a First Friend is essential to presidential success..”

The author explores how close friends of various presidents shaped history.

There are nine chapters in this book, each exploring the friendship of a US president with his closest companion. For example, the 50-year friendship between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and Abraham Lincoln’s friendship with Joshua Speed which saved him from depression.

Harry Truman recognized the state of Israel because his friend Eddie Jacobson, son of a Jewish shoemaker stepped in with the right words.

“…those presidents who did have First Friends were almost always the better for it — and so was the country.”

What I found particularly interesting was that there is no chapter on Donald Trump.

Upon receiving questions about this, Ginsberg claims that he tried his best but found out that Trump has no best friends.

Whether that stems out of his fierce independence or narcissism, we don’t know.

This book will give you the perfect balance of history and human connection.

10 Recommended Books by Malcolm Gladwell That Will Expand Your Brain(No, I’m Not Kidding)

Are you in control of your life?

The key takeaway from this book is that people and the environment around us shape our behaviors and decisions.

We think we are making a certain decision rationally. Instead, there are a myriad of factors affecting what we do at any given moment.

These factors range from our names to the colors around us.

For example, did you know that people donate more to charities whose names share the initial of their name? In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, donations by people whose names start with K went up 150%.

“Each of us is an ongoing product of the world within us, the world between us, and the world around us — and their hidden capacity to shape our every thought, feeling, and behavior.”

Another example is the racial bias that we hold even when we say we don’t.

Research into death penalty cases tried in Philadelphia between 1979 and 1999 found that black men who looked stereotypically black were more likely to receive a death sentence.

“…our hidden, unconscious attitudes toward minorities evolve far more slowly than our overt spoken attitudes.”

An enlightening book that will make you pause before your next decision.

10 Recommended Books by Malcolm Gladwell That Will Expand Your Brain(No, I’m Not Kidding)

You don’t know yourself.

The unconscious mind affects our behavior more than the conscious mind. Sometimes, the two are at odds with each other.

Wilson is a psychologist whose research focuses on the unconscious mind. With studies and examples, he takes us to unexplored parts of our brains.

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

We talk of the brain as a single entity. However, it is a collection of mental processes.

An example of the unconscious mind at work is ‘The Cocktail Party’. Many people are talking around you but you focus on the conversation you are having. Suddenly someone mentions your name and it grabs your attention.

Consciously, you weren’t listening to all of the sounds. But the unconscious part of your brain was.

“…at any given moment, our five senses are taking in more than 11,000,000 pieces of information. … The most liberal estimate is that people can process consciously about 40 pieces of information per second.”

Habit formation is another example of how behavior goes from conscious to unconscious.

This book will acquaint you with the power of your ‘unconscious mind’.

10 Recommended Books by Malcolm Gladwell That Will Expand Your Brain(No, I’m Not Kidding)

Can two things be true at once?

This book has 8 chapters and uses 50 management case studies to make its point.

Martin focuses on what great leaders think instead of what they do.

He finds that all great leaders can hold two opposing ideas in their heads at the same time. The skill of holding two opposing thoughts is what he calls ‘the opposable mind’.

Without favoring any of the two, the leader then creatively resolves the tension between the two ideas. This is called ‘integrative thinking.’

“Fundamentally, the conventional thinker prefers to accept the world as it is. The integrative thinker welcomes the challenge of shaping the world for the better.”

Martin teaches us to unlock our creative power by thinking right.

Most people make the mistake of favoring one model from the two that they have in their heads. They want to pick the right option.

In doing so, they miss making a superior version that would have combined the elements of both.

This book will teach you to harness the power of opposable minds and make better decisions.

10 Recommended Books by Malcolm Gladwell That Will Expand Your Brain(No, I’m Not Kidding)

Behind closed doors, what secrets does Wall Street have?

The Big Short was published in 2010 and discusses the reasons behind the 2008 financial crisis in America.

It focuses on the few investors who predicted the financial crisis and hence profited from it.

The author himself has a history of working in Wall Street. He knows the ins and outs of the financial industry pretty well.

“The line between gambling and investing is artificial and thin.”

One of the reasons for the financial crisis was the underpaid rating agency analysts.

Mortgage bonds were a new kind of bond that the analysts didn’t understand.

Bad bonds were rated triple A and the worst were rated triple B.

“Complicated financial stuff was being dreamed up for the sole purpose of lending money to people who could never repay it.”

Whatever was done wasn’t illegal but it led to one of the greatest debacles in US financial history.

The author concludes that Wall Street still hasn’t learned from its mistakes. It has just changed the names and strategies.

I’d recommend this book to every finance student and future investor.


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