Outliers: The Story of Success

By Malcolm Gladwell

I can not count the number of times I have heard the stories and lessons in Outliers referenced, but suffice to say it has been often enough that I felt like the book was culturally required reading. Unfortunately, like Sapiens, I do not think Outliers lives up to its pop-sci hype. The lesson of Outliers is depressing. Essentially, the book teaches that hard work might help sometimes, but most of the time the amount you work will not influence your trajectory near as much as the opportunities you happen to have, and those opportunities are most likely to come to those already in power. So, if you are, I don’t know, maybe female, from a lower socioeconomic class, and gay, the odds are pretty stacked against you, and rags to riches tales are false flags of hope. Although the book is interesting and well written throughout, I’m not sure I would recommend it to anyone other than privileged people who need help understanding institutional biases. For those who have already come face to face with the limitations created by their identities, the book is little more than a sad reminder of the world’s lack of a meritocracy.