Have you ever thought about the books that influence thought leaders like Malcolm Gladwell? With over 4.5 million book sales and counting under his belt, Malcolm Gladwell is one of the most popular and successful authors alive today. His quirky narratives about the hidden nature of achieving success have propelled him to a media-darling status that only a handful of writers can relate to.
Gladwell possesses the rare skill set of being able to dig deep into subjects that deal with human behavior — such as Social Science and Psychology — and to pull away tiny little details that others would’ve probably overlooked, and then tie them into big ideas that affect our lives quite significantly…
It’s his attention to detail that resulted in his string of best-selling books and his stellar writing career as one of the world’s leading non-fiction writer. Several thought-provoking books influenced Gladwell’s way of thinking, which of course had a direct impact on his writing.
Here are nine that Malcolm Gladwell recommends you read.
#1. ‘Freakonomics’ by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Gladwell told The Week that Freakonomics was the book that turned a boring subject like economics into an entertaining topic, and it’s an enjoyable read to boot.
#2. ‘Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession’ by Janet Malcolm
Gladwell considers the author of Psychoanalysis, Janet Malcom, his “nonfiction role model.” Gladwell was quoted in The New York Times as having said the following about the book and its author:
“I reread Malcolm’s Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession just to remind myself how nonfiction is supposed to be done.”
#3. ‘Fooled by Randomness‘ by Nassim Taleb
This is the book that most likely inspired some of Gladwell’s assertions in his best-selling book, Outliers: The Story of Success, where he notes the lack of consideration we place on “opportunities” (luck, chance, or circumstance) when we survey the contributing factors to success for individuals like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.
Gladwell told the New Yorker that Nassim Taleb, author of Fooled By Randomness, “is to conventional Wall Street wisdom approximately what Martin Luther’s ninety-five theses were to the Catholic Church.”
#4. ‘The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game’ by Michael Lewis
Gladwell considers Lewis to be an inspiring role model. Reportedly, Gladwell even told The New York Times that he reads Michael Lewis’ books for the same reasons he watches Tiger Woods play golf: “I’ll never play like that. But it’s good to be reminded every now and again what genius looks like.”
If Gladwell’s endorsement weren’t enough to get you to pickup the book — you should also probably know that The Blind Side is an extraordinary story about love and redemption that gets you thinking about how we’ve all got vulnerabilities — and whether we’re ready for it or not — life can “blind side” us when we least expect it. And it’s our ability to get back up that makes us successful in the long run.
#5. ‘The Opposable Mind’ by Roger Martin
Bookstores — both online and off — are crowded with books about how great CEOs and leaders stand out from their peers. According to Gladwell, The Opposable Mind is the only one you need to read.
“I realize that there are thousands of business books on the subject, but, trust me, this is the first to really answer the question” Gladwell says.
#6. ‘Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do’ by Tom Vanderbilt
Traffic is an investigation of how our behavior behind the wheel relates to human nature… this seems like a tall mountain to climb, until of course, you think about how otherwise normal and well-tempered people turn into total maniacs when they get behind the wheel.
Gladwell says that the author of Traffic, Tom Vanderbilt, has a clever way of writing. Which is suitable, seeing as though you’d have to be pretty savvy to put together a best-selling book about why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us) — and then to have it make Malcom Gladwell’s list of recommended books.
#7. ‘Nixon Agonistes: The Crisis of the Self-Made Man’ by Garry Wills
This book is an outlier when you compare it to the rest of this list, but it’s a classic nonetheless, at least according to Malcolm Gladwell it is.
Here’s what he told The Week about the book: “A classic from the early ’70s by one of the great political writers of his time. Written just before Richard Nixon resigned, it’s as devastating a portrait of him as has ever been written.
#8. ‘Should I Be Tested for Cancer?’ by H. Gilbert Welch
This is a book that brings together a wide body of little-known medical research — and presents this data in a compelling argument against the constant testing for cancer in the world of medicine — which seems to result in unintended consequences by way of invasive treatments, misdiagnosis, and much, much more.
This book asks a simple question: are there situations when you shouldn’t be tested for cancer? The author’s answer brings data together in an engaging and stylish way that really gets you thinking. Which is precisely why it makes Malcom’s list of books for you to read.
#9. ‘The Person and the Situation’ by Richard Nisbett
Gladwell told the New York Times that the author of this book, psychologist Richard Nisbett “was the most influential thinker in my life.” Gladwell attributes his world general way of thinking about the world to Nisbett and his book, The Person and the Situation; saying that “if you read that book, you’ll see the template for the genre of books that The Tipping Point, and Blink and Outliers belongs to. That book changed my life.”
Okay, now that you’ve the nine best books straight out of Malcolm Gladwell’s library — which one will you read first?