THE book to read for 2006

If you read no other book this coming year, you must read "Blink", by Malcolm Gladwell, the same author who wrote "The Tipping Point" (which is about why certain trends seem to just "take off" with no prior warning--case in point, the incredible rise of certain fashion trends, such as "Hush Puppies")..

I won't tell you what it's about except to quote the back cover; to do so would ruin the book's effect, to be blunt. The inside jacket reads,

In his landmark bestseller The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell redefined how we understand the world around us. Now, in Blink, he revolutionizes the way we understand the world within. Blink is a book about how we think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instance--in a blink of an eye--that actually aren't as simple as they seem. Why are some people brilliant decision-makers, while others are consistently inept? Why do some people follow their instincts and win, while others end up stumbling into error? How do our brains really work--in the office, in the classroom, in the kitchen and in the bedroom? And why are the best decisions often the ones that are impossible to explain to others?

In Blink we meet the psychologist who has learned to predict whether a marriage will last, based on a few minutes of observing a couple; the tennis coach who knows when a player will double-fault before the racket even makes contact with the ball; the antiquities experts who recognize a fake at a glance. Here, too, are great failures of "blink": the election of Warren Harding; New Coke; and the shooting of Amadou Diallo by police. Blink reveals that great decision makers aren't those who possess the most information or spend the most time deliberating, but those who have perfected the art of "thin-slicing"--filtering the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.

Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology and displaying all of the brilliance that made The Tipping Point a classic, Blink changes the way you understand every decision you make. Never again will you think about thinking the same way.

Don't let the hyperbole in the above inside jacket prose throw you--how I think about thinking will never be the same again. I knew, intuitively, that intuition (the best word I can use to describe that "blink" effect) is a powerful force, but I couldn't describe why. Gladwell articulates that point. Read it.