Discussing the Tipping Point

It was a beautiful evening, and time for our monthly book club excursion. It was also time to commemorate St. Patrick, and the celebrations were in full force in the tent outside the Irish pub at Hamilton Town Center. Once we finally found parking spots, I don’t think any of us minded the extra walk to Borders; the weather was especially nice.

Despite not joining in the nearby St. Patrick’s Day merrymaking, we still sported some festive green!

Armed with tea, coffee and our answers to the pre-meeting Mad Lib Sarah posted, we launched into our discussion of The Tipping Point. Certain parts of the book resonated with each of us more than others, but I think we all agreed that it was fascinating and could see points that Malcolm Gladwell brought up at work in the world around us. Here are a few highlights of what came up in our discussion:

  • We could identify some traits in us of connectors, mavens or salesmen, but none of us would strongly identify ourselves as one. However we all  could think of people who fit these roles. A couple of us, myself included, admitted that we failed the phonebook test miserably — we’re definitely not connectors! 
  • Each of us had experience with Sesame Street and Blues Clues and could see the stickiness factor of their messages at work. The way stickiness can be built in somewhat creeped a few of us out.
  • We were rather amazed at how powerful the power of context can really be. Cleaning up graffiti and prosecuting fare-beaters in the subway can start a reversal of crime in New York City. People will be prone to not help someone because they think someone else will. A harmful or lethal act will seem OK because the people doing it seem heroic and that can give someone else “permission.”
  • Several of us were so intrigued by this book that we have or are planning to read some of Gladwell’s other works.
At one point during our discussion, a group of St. Patrick’s Day revelers who were meeting at Borders before a concert in the tent asked us what book we were discussing. When they found out it was the The Tipping Point, they pointed to one of the guys in the group and said, “That is his FAVORITE book!” I think the fact that the conversation died out from there proved that none of us are strong “connectors,” I think a connecter would have been all over that, Not even a weak connection was to be had there! 🙂
If you couldn’t join us for our March meeting, I hope you can make it out for our April discussion of Three Cups of Tea. We’ll be meeting at Tea’s Me, so that alone will make it an outing you won’t want to miss. Hope to see you on Saturday, April 16!

Malcolm Gladwell: Author of The Tipping Point

It’s true. I’m a little obsessed with Malcolm Gladwell. I get that way about anyone who I think is doing something really well. And let me tell you, Malcolm Gladwell is REALLY good at what he does.

I read The Tipping Point last year and I could not shut up about it. Ask anyone who I talked to in the month or 3 after I read it. I was enamored with the way Malcolm could tell you something really applicable and interesting- even scientific- using a series of stories. He is a writer and a social scientist, and I don’t know which he excels in more.

Gladwell was born in England, raised in Canada, and is part Jamaican. He has written for many distinguished publications such as The American Spectator, The Washington Post, and The New Yorker (his current employer). Along the way he also wrote for Insight on the News which, from my brief review on Wikipedia, was an interesting and controversial publication, and is owned by some even more interesting people. I’m sure it was not nearly as colorful a place as Wikipedia makes it out to be. 🙂

The Tipping Point is the first of four books that Gladwell has composed. The second being Blink which I’m currently consuming. It’s about the part of our brain that thinks without us thinking about it. Why you should trust your instincts; why you shouldn’t trust them; and how to know the difference. It’s great, and I can’t wait to finish! The 3rd, Outliers: The Story of Success is just as fascinating as the rest. (I’d call it a must-read!) He explains why Mozart really shouldn’t be considered a child-prodigy, why those steel magnates all came to be so rich, and why Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are really very similar. He also spills the beans on the recipe for success. His most recent book, What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures is a collection of his favorite articles from The New Yorker. No, I haven’t read it. Yes, I will.

I conclude with, “But you don’t have to take my word for it.” Go and see for yourself! Another group of awesome people who are doing something well are the TED people. They said we should listen to Gladwell because, “his work uncovers truths hidden in strange data.” AND you can watch Malcolm do his thing (ie: uncover truth hidden in strange data) in a video of the talk he gave at a TED conference. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve watched this video at least 3 times. You know you want to know more about the history of Spaghetti Sauce in the US. 🙂

So read up and meet up! St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th), 7pm at the Hamilton Town Center’s Borders.

In One Word: Fascinating

What do Paul Revere’s ride, Hush Puppies shoes, Sesame Street and crime rates in New York City have in common? They all are examples of The Tipping Point, and you can find out why in this month’s book, The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell.

I have to admit that I was a little skeptical when we discussed adding this book to our reading list this year. I don’t get into nonfiction as much and more often than not have problems getting all the way through nonfiction books. The Tipping Point was definitely an exception. And the first word I would use to describe it is “fascinating.”

The Tipping Point proposes that some ideas, products, messages and behaviors act like viruses do, and when certain factors align, they reach a critical “tipping point’ and spread like an epidemic. The research and theories in the book are interesting, but it is the examples and stories that Gladwell uses that really make his theories come to life. I think you’ll find yourself saying, “Wow, I never thought about it that way before.”

This is one of those books that will make you think and start to notice more about the world around you. You just might find yourself applying some of the principles of The Tipping Point to the popularity of Silly Bandz and Beiber Fever.

Read the book and see what you think! And then join us to talk about it at the Borders at Hamilton Town Center on March 17 at 7 p.m.

Happy Reading!

The Chosen: A Recap

It’s official. Chaim Potok is definitely one of our favorite authors. He is an excellent storyteller! Did you read My Name is Asher Lev with us? We liked that one, too, and it was hard for us to decide which one of these books we liked best.

In short, The Chosen is the story of two boys, Reuven and Danny, who meet under hostile circumstances, live in different circles, and yet become very good friends. The story follows them through their growing up years, the end of World War II, and the death of president Roosevelt. Like My Name is Asher Lev, there is a sequel called The Promise which follows Reuven through the next phase of his life.

I marked up my book with quotes to share during our discussion:

Take a look at this awesome beverage: (a perk to meeting at Borders!)


Another perk of Borders? Comfy chairs!:


Some highlights of the story were the baseball game at the beginning, the themes of sight and silence that Potok worked in seamlessly, and the interesting characters Reuven meets during his time in the hospital. What about you? Did you read the book? What were your favorite parts?Can I also say that I am SO excited about our next book? The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell- another excellent storyteller. We’ll be meeting on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) at 7pm at Borders. See you there!