Books are cheaper than heroin, but they DO add up....

Amy, Carrie, Chanin and Sarah buy (and read and review) their own stuff. They've been known to shop around from dealer to dealer looking for the best price. If you're interested in slipping them something to try out, just contact us.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell

Personally, I'm a fan of Malcolm Gladwell's.  I love The Tipping Point so much that I make my Consumer Behavior students read it.  I thought Outliers was an amazing, and Blink is interesting (if frustrating because I don't think he ever answers his own core question.)  Not everyone agrees with me. Every once in a while I'll hear colleagues scoff at the mention of Gladwell's name; they'll claim that others write on similar topics with more depth.  Every once in a while I'll see acquaintances roll their eyes when I mention something from The Tipping Point; they tell me that Gladwell only writes about the obvious.

Here's what I have to say about that:
     a) every one of us is entitled to our own opinions, and
     b) really? You call that a critique?

(Err, so maybe I need to work on my application of the "live and let live" philosophy.  Peace.  Goodwill to men and all that.)

Gladwell writes, really well, for a non-academic audience.  His writing is as in-depth as is appropriate for his readers.  Also, OF COURSE it all seems obvious after you've read his work.  That means he's done an amazing job finding and retelling stories that support a general premise.  Perhaps he's writing about things you've already thought about, but he's taken those questions we all have and done something with them.  He's researched and retold the answers to questions that resonate with so many of us.  Gladwell writes about the things that make us go "Hmm."

I think for the everyday reader and the typical undergraduate student (two mutually exclusive categories, those) Gladwell makes for an excellent read.  It's with that opinion that I recommend What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures.  This book is a collection of magazine articles Gladwell wrote for The New Yorker.  For a consumer behavior junkie like me, this book simply rocks.  Even if you've never been fixated on brands and logos and service recovery, this is a a good read*.  There's a crazily interesting article about ketchup. (No joke.)  Have you ever considered that there are yellow mustards, brown mustards, spicy mustards, and plain mustards, but, for most of America, there's really just Heinz ketchup?  There's a great piece about Ron Popeil and the history of Billy Mays-like salesmanship.  How many items have you purchased based on the power of a demonstration?  There's also a really cool article about Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer.  What does the dog see, after all?

I'm also specifically recommending it for holiday reading because a collection of magazine articles has definitive stops and starts.  For those of you still shopping, wrapping, shipping, cleaning, cooking, and decorating for the December holidays, this book is nice to have right now because you can pick it up and put it down.  You can use it as a short break between tasks without worrying about getting sucked in to a 300-page plot that you just can't seem to ignore.  After 20 pages about ketchup, you can put the book down and process what you've read as you go back to your cookie dough.

*I liked this book enough that I'm willing to recommend it EVEN THOUGH the articles on behavioral profiling have pretty much ruined Criminal Minds for me.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm totally reading this. I need to brush up on my ketchup facts.