Sunday, May 22, 2016


What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures
What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have been a fan of Malcolm Gladwell for years. In fact, I have most of his books and actually carry them back and forth with me to Arizona. I know...weird huh? But there you have it.

I find that his stories are ones that you read and say to yourself "wait" here it comes. And it always does. The punch line for an incident or even a whole chapter. He makes the connection that somehow I don't see coming.

I visited the bookstore last week and bought some books for the grandchildren, a puzzle book for my husband and What the Dog Saw by Gladwell for myself.

I began reading immediately, because a new book is very exciting. I read the introduction and the first chapter. Then I handed it to my husband with the instructions to read what I had read so we could talk about it. These Gladwell books are just too good to keep to yourself.

In this book Gladwell strived to explain what goes on inside the mind of a person that does what we do not understand.

The first chapter called "The Pitchman" is about a family of boardwalk pitchmen that lived and worked in NYC metro area. A family member was the pitchman that invented and went on to pitch the Veg-O-Matic, a spray on hair that actually looked real and the Showtime Rotisserie. Ron Popeil was the focus.

Gladwell told his story concluding with Popeil pitching his machines on QVC. In one hour Ron Popeil broke the rule books and the records for sales in that length of time. He did not do any of the marketing things we think of as normal in this day and age. For some reason, he saw what people wanted to hear and the voices in his head took him forward.

He sold a product by showing a group of people how it worked and then told them, over and over, that they needed it. He was a very old man when he pitched on QVC but it was evident that he still had the magic. The final sentences in that chapter, the aha moment went like this:
 "At that moment, on the other side of the room, the door opened, and a man appeared, stooped and drawn but with a smile on his face. It was Ron Popeil, who invented a better rotisserie in his kitchen and went out and pitched it himself . There was a hush, and then the whole room [of QVC executive and employees] stood and up and cheered."
I think that Gladwell made it very clear that inside Popeil's head what he saw when he pitched all those wonderful machines that really were as good as he said, was a room full of people rising to their feet and applauding. It was the connection, the aha moment I had been waiting for.

My husband and I will talk about this for a long time. I am only beginning but a really good book is always too wonderful not to share as the journey progresses. There will be more about this I am sure.

The bookseller liked my choice and then asked me if I had read any of Oliver Sacks books. They are on the list. reading great!


  1. You and I are enjoying reading synchronicity today. I loved Gladwell's Outliers and will read this new one you reviewed. And my blog post today is Oliver Sacks' memoir "On the Road: A Life", which I highly recommend.

    1. I read your review and then read about Oliver Sacks. Thank you pointing me in his direction.

  2. I've read Blink and The Tipping Point. This one sounds good, too, so I'll have to get it. Thanks for the recommendation!

    1. I also loved Outliers. Gladwell has a way of seeing things that others don't. Even at his worst he is better at the study of human nature than anyone else.

  3. I loved Outliers. I also read portions of the Tipping Point. He does have a way with words (and titles), and ideas, doesn't he? So this book is a collection of his writing from The New Yorker - something I knew nothing about - so thank you! As for Oliver Sacks, I grew up near the neighborhood where he practiced medicine in a local hospital complex (Beth Abraham, in the Bronx)in fact, both my grandparents on my mother's side were patients there in the early 1960's. For some reason I've had trouble reading the two books I tried to read and ended up abandoning. I don't quite know why he didn't click for me. He is worthwhile enough for me to try again.


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