A collection of thoughtful, brilliant essays by Malcolm Gladwell, What the Dog Saw is just my kind of non-fiction. It should come as no surprise that I loved this book.
This was the first book I read for my bookclub upon returning to Texas and I’d read the essay about ketchup v. mustard just before my family arrived for Ella’s baby blessing.
I found it so fascinating that I read them several pages aloud. Then, concerned that my fourteen-year-old brother might be wondering what kind of vacation this was, exactly, where he sits listening to his older sister read essays about condiments, I started to put the book away.
“No, no,” he protested. “Finish it!”
And then after I’d read them the whole section, he borrowed the book and read quite a lot of it over the course of the weekend.
It’s a really interesting book, is what I’m saying.
I love Malcolm Gladwell, of course (I’ve now read all four of his books). So this book was not a hard sell for me. Unlike his other books, though, that more or less follow a single theory, this is a collection of some of his essays written for The New Yorker. They are on all sorts of topics, some very broad, some extremely specific.
His style is pretty identifiable – often he compares things that, at first glance, don’t have a whole lot in common (recruiting quarterbacks to the NFL and hiring school teachers), and you get used to reading a couple of pages about one topic before he switches gears entirely and then brings them both together later on. Or he launches the piece with the story of a person before backing up to give the history of a company or the traditional method of dealing with an issue. I rather feel like, after reading this book, that I could pick out a Gladwell essay from a mile away.
One of the things I love about his writing is that he can make practically anything interesting. Who knew I could so deeply enjoy fifteen pages of small text about hair coloring? And I love that reading his writing gives me an enormous fodder of things to talk about with Bart, with my friends and family, and, um, do I talk to anyone besides those people? Perhaps not. . .
As you can imagine, the discussion at book club was excellent. I think I bored Bart with the details for three days after.
This is the only one of his books that I’ve read in print, rather than listened to, and I enjoyed it every bit as much, which amazed me since I find his narration to be top-notch
I read them out of order (look at me, living on the edge, like the rebel I am). You can read most (if not all) of the articles that make up What the Dog Saw on his website, if you’re so inclined, in any order you like. Give the ketchup one a whirl.
Copy checked out from my local library