Talking to Strangers – Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is the best. He has an insatiable curiosity which drives him to explore and examine everything. He finds something that is a little bit interesting and he dives into it to find the reasoning behind it.

His latest book is no different. He is exploring how we communicate with the people around us. He thinks that they way we have been programed to deal with strangers has led us down a dangerous path. And after his examination, I’m inclined to say he is not wrong. He uses famous examples of miscommunications to explore his ideas.

The most striking takeaway for me is the idea of defaulting to the truth. That we instinctually believe that people are going to behave as we do in a situation. This is when things can begin to go sideways. I found it to be startling simple idea that had a broad application to so many situations.

Malcolm Gladwell books are always a good read. He helps to stimulate my brain to look at things differently and to examine the world around me. I would also recommend listening to his podcast series Revisionist History. It is a one hour dive into Gladwell’s research interests.

Who has read Talking to Strangers? What did you think? What is your favorite Malcolm Gladwell book?

When Breathe Becomes Air

When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi was a beautiful book. I read it on a sunny day over the summer because I knew it was a sad story. How could it not be? A doctor diagnosed with cancer dying just as his child was born? I did not expect it to be so engrossing. I read the book in one sitting. One day would be more accurate. I broke it up by pausing to make myself some lunch.

The book is a reflection on life and death. Paul was a magnificent writer. His thoughts flowed well and had an ability to articulate his thoughts succinctly and clearly. It’s fascinating to me that Paul wrote this book in the last year of his life. To be able to examine your life and the future that will happen without you in such a thoughtful way is a gift. The world lost not only a promising doctor but an amazing author.

His wife, Lucy, writes the epilogue and that was when the tears started to come. It was hard to read it but it was beautiful. I heard a lot about the book but didn’t want to read something about someone who was dying. It seemed too sad a story but Paul didn’t allow it to be sad. It was thought provoking that made me think about my own mortality.

If you can’t tell, I absolutely loved this book. I highly recommend reading it if you get the chance. Everyone can take something away from this book. Who has read this book? What did you think about it?