What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell | Review

Did the dog see a sneaker?

Did the dog see a sneaker?

Title: What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Narrated By: Malcolm Gladwell
Publisher: William Marrow/Hachette Audio
Publication Date: 2009
Length: 688 pages; 12 hours, 49 minutes
Series?: Standalone
Genre: Adult non-fiction/essay collection
Format: Audio book
Source: Borrowed from public library


What the Dog Saw is a collection of Gladwell’s early work in The New Yorker. The book is divided into 3 section:

  1. Obesessives, Pioneers, and Other Minor Geniuses
  2. Theories, Prediction, and Diagnoses
  3. Personality, Character, Intelligence

Each section contains 4-5 essays. Fans of Gladwell’s previous books (The Tipping Point, Blinkand Outliers), will find similar styles and subjects in this collection, just spread over nineteen essays instead of a single, cohesive book.


As always, Gladwell provided an entertaining read. The Tipping Point is still my favorite of his, but I did find What the Dog Saw to be a stronger work than Blink. I just love how he can make topics like ketchup varieties and mammograms interesting.

Essay highlights include “Late Bloomers,” where Gladwell discusses the early success of prodigies versus the success of those who work many years before getting noticed. Another highlight is “Most Likely to Succeed,” focusing on predicting talents in NFL players, and how that talent differs from college ball. I also found “Million Dollar Murray” to be particularly interesting in the current government shutdown/Obamacare debacle, as Gladwell investigates how much one homeless man costs his city in unpaid health care costs each year…and the solution the city came up with to solve the problem. Add in some discussion of Enron, dog training, birth control pills, rockets, job intervies, ladies hair dye, ketcup, and infomercials…and you’ve got a lot of fascinating tidbits to share at parties upon reading the full collection.

The Audio Book

I love that Gladwell narrates his own audiobooks! I enjoyed it with Outliers, so I knew that What the Dog Saw would be a great addition to a recent long car trip I found myself taking. I checked it out from the public library (yours probably has it, too) and flew through all ten disks. Non-fiction books with a high entertainment value are my favorites, and this was no exception. It never felt tedious and Gladwell effectively held my attention…even on the essays I thought I wouldn’t really like.

Final Grade: B 

Is it my favorite book of the year? No. I’ve read some stellar books, and non-fiction books rarely gain that distinction. Overall, though, this is an excellent audiobook for anyone who likes non-fiction, like me. I enjoy listening to NPR, podcasts, and full-length books in my car and on the bus. Even while brushing my teeth. This collection is perfectly suited for that, with each essay coming in around 45 minutes in length. It’s easy to find a stopping point and come back to it. Fans of Gladwell will find more of the same here, and I always recommend his books for first-time audio listeners. This might see circulation in a high school library (especially if you have Gladwell’s other books), and definitely will in a public library (let’s honest…you probably already have it).

What is your favorite Malcolm Gladwell book? Love him? Hate him? Share your thoughts!

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9 responses to “What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell | Review

  1. I hate to join the critical bandwagon–which seems to have soured a bit on Gladwell of late. But that said, I have to admit that I find myself liking Gladwell’s work a little less with each book. His shtick may be getting a bit long in the tooth. Still an enjoyable and thought-provoking writer, but the “eureka” moments of Tipping Point and Blink seem harder to come by these days. Not sure I’m going to read his latest.

    • I’ve now got David and Goliath on my TBR. Gotta get the Gladwell royal flush (Outliers, Tipping Point, Blink, What the Dog Saw, David & Goliath).

  2. I LOVE when authors read their own work on audio!!! I don’t listen to audio much, but it really seems to make a difference when it’s the actual author reading the book!

  3. Pingback: Extra Credit | Malcolm Gladwell | The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!The Librarian Who Doesn't Say Shhh!·

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