Saturday, February 21, 2009

BOOK: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, 254 pages
The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Dewey Decimal Nonfiction: 153.44

Great little pop psychology book for my first Gladwell book. I look forward to his other books, The Tipping Point and Outliers. The premise here is that we make complicated decisions in the 'blink' of an eye, based on complicated brain processing. He examines how we can do that, and uses lots of examples and anecdotes to back this up. He also gives examples where this instant thinking can let us down, with brain theory and psychological studies into the brain.

By writing with lots of anecdotes, Gladwell makes this immensely more readable than a psychology book, but he is more present as an author than in a more scholarly article and I found his opinions and some conclusions a little jarringly appearing out of the blue. For example, when referring to Tom Hanks, being cast in his first major movie Splash, he says "All he had done was the now (justly) forgotten TV show called Bosom Buddies." Why that justly had to be included there surprised me because it doesn't add to the book, it just tells me that Gladwell didn't like that show, and since I did, it was jarring. Little editorial comments like that were sprinkled throughout the book and took me out of the reading periodically.

The descriptions of facial muscles required to produce different emotions was very interesting, especially connecting it to how autism doesn't react to mind reading and face reading of emotions. The descriptions of the actual muscles moving for every emotion got a bit tiring and sometimes if felt like the book couldn't make up its mind as to whether is was a scholarly book, with specific details of the scientific studies, or a lay man's version summarized into real life examples. These two examples are small concerns however, and I really enjoyed the look into how I made up my mind about someone or something, or get a bad feeling, with out perhaps knowing why. My subconscious knows why, it just doesn't always let me know.


  1. One of these days I need to get around to reading this author!

  2. I don't read psychology books but this sounds almost approachable! Major props to the author :o)

  3. I've just finished Outliers and have this one on my list. And, for the record, I enjoyed Bosom Buddies.

  4. "My subconscious knows why, it just doesn't always let me know." Well said.

    I'm looking forward to reading this having just finished Tipping Point. I may really like all the talk about the face muscles - sounds interesting.

  5. I so enjoyed this book! The Tipping Point was also rather fascinating - he talks about the different types of people who have to get involved in something for it to really take off. His website has a number of his columns from the New Yorker as well, which are always interesting!

  6. I read Outliers and really liked it, so I want to read this and The Tipping Point. Thanks for the review!


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