Years ago, when I first read Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, I really, really enjoyed it. I talked about it a lot to Mr. CR, and I recommended he read it. I also liked it because it was a bestseller and a big word-of-mouth book that I actually felt good about giving patrons at the library when they asked for it (which they did, for years and years, and were still asking for when I quit, which was several years after its first publication). Sometimes now I think I should re-read it, and see if I still find it so interesting.
So it was always slightly disappointing to me that I was never really able to finish any of Gladwell's subsequent books. I started Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, and stopped somewhere in the second or third chapter, completely bored. (Mr. CR and I actually picked up an advance copy of it when we spent one vacation at BookExpo in Chicago, but Mr. CR puts a lot of faith in the process of thinking, so it wasn't really for him either.) And then Outliers: The Story of Success came out, and although I brought it home, even the thought of reading it bored me.
So why did I check out his latest book, titled What the Dog Saw? Well, for one thing, it's a collection of journalistic pieces Gladwell has done over the past few years, and I almost always enjoy essays and well-written journalism. For another, I still keep trying to understand why I haven't enjoyed all his books the way I enjoyed The Tipping Point. This book is good; I've read most of the essays (the one on the history of the birth control pill is particularly interesting, even if I don't know that I agree with all he has to say on the subject), and when I'm in the middle of a chapter, I don't particularly want to stop reading. But overall? I won't really tell anyone how much I loved this book, or how much I love Gladwell. It's due today, and I'm not done with it, but I'll be taking it back to the library without too much regret anyway. I just don't get it.
Gladwell's writing is skillful, and I don't mind that his writing is kind of "Gladwellesque"--if you didn't know who the author of this book was initially, if you knew Gladwell at all, you'd probably read a couple of the essays and guess it was him. He also jumps around quite a bit subject-wise, which I enjoy (and which is a favorite hallmark of William Langewiesche, whose style is also very unique to him, and who I never get tired of reading). But I'm just not loving it. It's a conundrum.