What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures is a compilation of essays that Malcolm Gladwell wrote for The New Yorker. Gladwell is full of fascinating facts, but along with that he is a wonderful storyteller. In this book, he explores such questions as why there are many different varieties of mustard but really only one ketchup, the history of hair dye and the womens’ movement, and why mammography may not be as reliable as we want to think it is. His chapter on Cesar Millan’s work with dogs had fascinating information about body language and inspired my husband and me to start watching The Dog Whisperer. It has become one of our favorite shows. The chapter on birth control and how we think about it was very enlightening.
If for no other reason, I’m glad I picked up this book for the chapter on “late bloomers.” Being in my 40s and just now realizing that I have more potential than I ever dreamed, it was encouraging and inspiring to read about other people who didn’t find success until their 50s or even 60s. I’ve always been interested in writing, and especially in music, and yet I’ve never felt like I’m good enough to really do anything with it. Reading about artist Cezanne and how he never felt good enough until he was much older made me think that my success could still be ahead of me. Maybe I wasn’t good enough in my 20s, but that doesn’t mean I’ll never be good enough. As Gladwell puts it, “The Cezannes of the world bloom late not as a result of some defect in character, or distraction, or lack of ambition, but because the kind of creativity that proceeds through trial and error necessarily takes a long time to come to fruition.”