Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Title: Blink
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Genre: Nonfiction
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2005
Source: Library
Read for: Book club

Oh my goodness, guys, I read this one quite a long time ago. And with allergies tormenting my throat and a big busy week ahead of me, I'm not overly motivated to write this review. So why do it, you ask? Because it's something I can cross off my to-do list, and because I have been pushing this review back for ages. Sometimes you do what you can, you know?

Anyway, Blink is about snap-decision judgments. In general, we tend to think that stewing and marinating over issues is the way to make the best choice. However, the studies Malcolm Gladwell presents in Blink indicate otherwise -- that actually, often the best decision is the one that offers itself immediately.

There were two things that bothered me about Blink. One is fair and one is totally biased to me. But because I have to share everything, I'll start with the somewhat illogical one that just isn't Gladwell's fault, but made the book slightly less than enjoyable for me. So many of the studies he examined are things I've heard about ad nauseum over the last several years. I think that may be because Blink was such a hit when it first came out, but some of the studies just left me thinking, Okay, but doesn't everyone know that story?  I know that isn't really a fair assessment of the book, but reading about the marshmallow study again decreased my enjoyment of the book.

The second thing is more fair. Gladwell vacillates back and forth between the split-second judgment theory and the more elongated decision-making process. He makes his point in the end of which is better (is sharing the end of a nonfiction book considered spoiling? Well, if it is, be aware that one is coming: Gladwell's answer is that once you have expertise in an area, split-second judgments are the most accurate. Moving on). However, I moved from chapter to chapter, I felt a little jerked around. What are you trying to say, Malcolm? I wanted to cry. Which is better, and why won't you tell me? I felt like the thesis and organization could have been more direct without losing readers. The air of mystery lost me more than straightforwardness would have.

However, overall, it was an interesting read. As I said, I was familiar with many of the studies, but not the overall idea of the book. Worth a read if you are really into this sort of thing, but it didn't shatter my universe or anything.

3 stars

Warnings: Can't think of any. But I read this book like three months ago.


  1. My book club read this ages ago and I really wanted to read it if for nothing else, the discussion. Unfortunately I got horribly sick and was out of it for two months. Looks like I didn't miss much.

    1. It definitely wasn't my favorite. It may be because I read a similar book right before that was just far and away much better, but I am not interested in reading any other of Gladwell's books.

  2. I think I'll give this one a pass. I did a module on risk & decision making as part of my psychology degree, which I loved, but it sounds like this book would be a bit repetitive for me. I do like Gladwell though.

    1. Do you have a recommendation for other of his books? I didn't care much for this one but everyone loves him so much I am wondering what my deal is, haha. And your risk-and-decision module sounds interesting!


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