This collection of the best Malcolm Gladwell books are fascinating to read if you’re interested in psychology and sociology.
Some of the most famous books by Malcolm Gladwell are The Tipping Point and Outliers, which are among his earliest ones. They look at different sociological theories and make for interesting reading.
Some of his later books branch out into different areas, such as The Bomber Mafia, which looks at the development of precision bombing during World War II.
Books by Malcolm Gladwell are similar in their scope, with Gladwell using case studies to illustrate the theory he wants to put forward. While this makes for interesting reading, one criticism of his work is that these case studies and his research can be sloppy.
Keep scrolling if you want to see all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books in order with a brief summary of each!
Table of Contents
Best Malcolm Gladwell Books In Order
The Tipping Point (2000)
The Tipping Point looks at how ideas and cultural phenomena spread. The title of the book gives you an indication of the theme of the book.
Gladwell looks at how critical thresholds are met, ‘the tipping point’, that allows these ideas and phenomena to spread behind the small circles they’re currently in and become more popular.
A particular case study Gladwell mentions is that of Hush Puppies when sales of the shoes increased during the mid-1990s.
They were popular among a select group and that popularity spread beyond the group until wider society was caught up in the craze.
The Tipping Point is an interesting book to read and as it’s Gladwell’s first, it will introduce you to his style of writing and the topics he takes on.
Why you should read it: An interesting look at how ideas and cultural phenomena pass through select groups and become popular within wider society.
Blink is one of the most interesting Malcolm Gladwell books on this list and looks at how and why we make decisions in the blink of an eye.
Gladwell draws upon research from behavioural economics and psychology to explain how mental processes work with little information.
The main subject of the book is described as ‘thin-slicing’ which is when someone uses their limited information from a small experience to reach a quick conclusion. Gladwell looks at how this can be beneficial such as in expert judgment and negatives such as prejudice.
Blink is a fascinating read and will give you plenty of food for thought. Though the book was criticised by figures such as Professor Richard Posner who stated that Gladwell made unsupported assumptions regarding his theory of ‘thin-slicing.’
Why you should read this book: A trip into the adaptive unconscious to discover how and why we make snap decisions.
Outliers is the third Malcolm Gladwell and one that looks at how certain people are able to attain high levels of success in a variety of fields.
One of the core themes underpinning the book is that of the 10,000-hour rule. Gladwell asserts that the key to mastering any skill is to have had 10,000 hours practicing it.
It’s an interesting concept, though it’s important to mention that the authors of the study Gladwell are sceptical of his claims and interpretation of their study.
Still, Outliers is an interesting read and will provide you with a background into how successful people such as Bill Gates and Joseph Flom got their start.
Why you should read it: An interesting book that examines the various factors that lead to high levels of success.
What the Dog Saw (2009)
What The Dog Saw is a collection of 19 essays that Gladwell wrote for The New Yorker.
The common theme of the articles is that Gladwell attempts to explain the world through the eyes of other people, and sometimes a dog, hence the title of the book.
The book is split into three parts. The first is Obsessives, Pioneers, and other varieties of Minor Genius, which looks at people who are good at what they do but fly under the radar.
The second is Theories, Predictions, and Diagnoses, which looks at prediction and intelligence failure with an emphasis on the collapse of Enron, which embodied both of those elements.
The third part, Personality, Character, and Intelligence, looks at topics related to psychology and sociology such as criminal profiling.
If you’ve read Gladwell’s essays before and enjoyed them, then What The Dog Saw will be a great read as you can reread some of Gladwell’s essays and discover new ones!
Why you should read it: The book contains some of Gladwell’s lesser-known writing on a variety of topics that will be of interest if you’ve read some of his precious books.
David and Goliath (2013)
The title, David and Goliath, gives you an idea of what this Malcolm Gladwell book is about.
He looks at cases where a David has beaten a Goliath despite the odds being overwhelmingly stacked against a David.
Gladwell uses individual case studies such as the success of oncologist Emil Freireich despite losing a parent at an early age. A disadvantage that Gladwell states he was able to turn into an advantage in later life.
David and Goliath offers plenty of interesting case studies and examples to hammer home Gladwell’s point. The career of top lawyer David Boies, despite suffering from dyslexia, is one example.
It’s an interesting read and one that will introduce many fascinating individuals who’ve overcome the odds to succeed in life.
Why you should read it: An intriguing look at how people have succeeded in life against the odds. It’s an uplifting read, particularly if you’ve struggled in life yourself.
Talking to Strangers (2019)
Talking to Strangers is the seventh of Malcolm Gladwell’s books and looks at miscommunication and assumptions when people deal with those they don’t know.
As per his other books, Gladwell uses several case studies to highlight his case. Perhaps the most infamous one he uses is the meeting between Chamberlain and Hitler, which was assumed to have led to peace in Europe in 1938.
Gladwell makes use of Timothy R. Levine’s truth-default theory throughout the book. The theory posits that humans, by default are trusting, which Gladwell says is a good thing as a default to distrust would be bad for humanity.
This is highlighted by some of the stories in Talking to Strangers. It’s an interesting book and one you’ll enjoy if you like Gladwell’s previous works.
Why you should read it: This will show you that it’s often hard to understand those we don’t know and help you to improve your interactions with strangers.
The Bomber Mafia (2021)
Out of all the Malcolm Gladwell books on this list, The Bomber Mafia is the weakest.
It looks at the development of high-altitude precision bombing during World War II, especially Major General Haywood S. Hansell, who supported the strategy in an attempt to limit the loss of life.
The problem with the book is that Gladwell misconstrues parts of the story, is light on historical detail and tries to shoehorn what happened into a single big idea.
Gladwell is not a historian, and it shows in The Bomber Mafia. The actual story is interesting but this is not the book to learn more about this subject. It makes for an engaging overview but no more than that.
Why you should read it: I recommend you don’t.
Looking For More Books?
Best Michael Lewis Books – Lewis writes books that have somewhat of a similarity to Gladwell’s. However, they tend to focus on finance or statistics but will appeal to you if you like Gladwell’s books.
Best Ryan Holiday Books – Holiday focuses on stoic philosophy, although some of his books do look at business and other issues. Again, these are books you’ll enjoy if you like Gladwell’s writing.
Best Michio Kaku Books – Discover some of the most theories and thoughts on physics from one of the most renowned scientists of the modern era!