The Tipping Point – Malcolm Gladwell

I started this book perhaps a year ago. I really liked it but got distracted and picked it up again fairly recently. It is interesting to me how much things relate in our world, so when I read the chapter about Columbine just weeks before the Aurora shooting, my brain made an eerie-feeling connection. But the existence of that connection and its relationship to epidemics in our world (think fashion trends, not Ebola) is precisely what The Tipping Point is all about.

Malcolm Gladwell seems to know how to write about all those things you wondered about but never really delved further into exploring. Like how deja vu works, or how Southern idiosyncrasies like saying “y’all” came to be denoted as such. He opens with a fashion example (hello female audience he has now ensnared!) — how is it that “trends” happen? Who gets to decide what is going to be the next big trend? And please tell me those horrible rompers are going away soon…

He compares trends like fashion to the spread of infectious disease, i.e. an epidemic. It is his theory that anything that becomes mainstream or widespread has a certain thing that happens (tipping point) to make it so. The book reads much like a psychology experiment (a VERY interesting one) and it really makes you think about why you act the way you do. It is frightening how much we follow the crowd. But you knew that.

One of the things I found most interesting was the way he described the parts of a tipping point epidemic, as if you could almost engineer one with the right steps and right people.

Overall, this was a highly interesting, intellectual read. I want to read his other books and to think more about the way we think and act as a society.

Read away – this one is a keeper!


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