Monday, July 15, 2019

Gladwell kicks off nonfiction project

Welcome to the nonfiction project!

Perhaps it's only fitting that this project kicks off with Malcolm Gladwell, who has been a nonfiction superstar for at least a decade and was recognized on this blog as a superstar in 2010. Years later, the great thing about Gladwell is that his work stands the test of time.

So Gladwell is the first of 100 nonfiction writers to be recommended by the Snooze Button Generation. Why?

I would argue that he is to books as what the Real World was to reality TV. However, we're talking books and TV, and there is a real world of difference between the two mediums.

In reality TV, it turns out that it is 100 percent scripted. "Reality TV" actually is a misnomer. It should be called "reality-style TV."

With nonfiction writing, yes, indeed, fiction-type of conventions have been used since Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, the New Journalism and some memoirs and essays from back in the day. But I credit Gladwell with pushing a new type of thoughtful, research-based, counterintuitive nonfiction into the mainstream.

I've read Gladwell's entire collection, and bully for us, his sixth book will be out in September called Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know. He hasn't had a book out since 2013, so look out world, the market is ready for this. Talking to Strangers will be ginormous.

If you haven't read any of Gladwell's stuff, I say go straight to Outliers (2008), a tour de force. In it, we look at a boatload of counterintuitive concepts that ring true, including what it takes to be an expert and how in reality, circumstance trumps many cliche man vs. world notions of success.

Gladwell has been killing it for two decades. I also recommend Tipping Point (2000) and Blink (2005) and really all of his work. Heck, I loved Outliers so much as did the reading public that I brought it into my AP Lang class for a year or two.

Because he talks about the Beatles in Outliers and because he's so significant, I got to compare him to the Beatles. In fact, it is safe to say that Malcolm Gladwell is the Beatles of modern-day nonfiction.

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