Growing up, I remember my mother telling me I could be anything I wanted to be; I just had to put my mind to it and work hard enough and I would be great. In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell’s third and latest book, he begs to differ. In his new book, he argues that we are who the world makes us to be and the great ones among us are the ones who have been given special opportunities, which, with hard work, allows them to excel beyond normal achievements.

This book analyzes some famous historical characters — such as Bill Gates, Bill Joy, and the members of The Beatles — and breaks down the reasons for their success as nothing more than being born in the right year or playing music for the right number of hours. He explains the hidden advantages of athletes, why Asians are good at math, and what country you should probably be born in if you want to be a good pilot.

If not for the fact that I have read some of Gladwell’s previous work, upon reading the jacket of Outliers at the bookstore, I would have thought this was another nutcase trying to sell me on some hocus pocus. After submerging myself and voraciously devouring the information in the book, however, I can confidently say that Gladwell is a genius who did not disappoint. The book was thoroughly researched (footnotes and sources were not lacking) and he gave very strong arguments for his case, arguments that will make you see the world and successful people in a brand new way. He offers many stories and statistics that may not be shocking, but the perspective in which he analyzes these pieces of the puzzle are groundbreaking.

For those of you who have a list of New Years resolutions longer than your grocery list, this might be just the book that will give you the right kick to start off the new year. It is empowering and offers a new perspective on history. If you’re interested in learning the formula of what makes great people great, this is the book for you.

Cost: $27.99
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Released: November 18, 2008