Learning is so much fun when Malcolm Gladwell (The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers) is the instructor. Gladwell’s calm but engaging style is the common thread in this anthology composed of nineteen essays previously published in the New Yorker magazine. There is just enough cohesion among the essays to make for smooth transitions. Yes, Gladwell cites some facts and studies used by other authors; however, his use of the material takes on a new look when seen through his question and answer format.
This reviewer was fascinated by the piece titled, “The Ketchup Conundrum.” The reader is presented with the statements, “Mustard now comes in dozens of varieties. Why has ketchup stayed the same?” This is a condiment that dominates most others, whether it’s in a booth at a burger joint or on a family’s kitchen table. One brand in particular rises above the rest in taste tests, and that’s Heinz. Gladwell provides a charming history of ketchup along with the various challenges that have been made to the Heinz dominance of the field. After reading the essay, I felt compelled to buy a bottle of Heinz for my own taste test. Mind you, our household is rarely the scene of actual cooking so I had to be creative in using my purchase. Happily, the flavor of Heinz blends perfectly with cottage cheese resulting in a pseudo-macaroni and cheese flavor without the carbs.
The preceding example is indicative of the connections that can be made to the everyday life of the reader. This anthology is by no means a heavy-duty literary work; rather, it prompts conversations with family and friends. Isn’t that what knowledge does?
This review was written by Ruta Arellano. A copy of the book was purchased for her.