Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World



Adam Grant accomplishes the barely possible with “Originals”: he writes a non-narrative account of industry and social science that’s so readable, putting it down feels like walking away from a fascinating conversation.

“When we marvel at the original individuals who fuel creativity and drive change in the world, we tend to assume they’re cut from a different cloth,” Grant writes, before setting out to debunk that myth. We all have “ideas for improving our workplaces, schools, and communities,” he says, but “many of us hesitate to take action.” Grant seeks to change that, sharing fascinating “studies and stories spanning business, politics, sports, and entertainment” that prod us to encourage originality in ourselves and others.

In addition to writing in accessible prose with a good eye for what information and anecdote will move and amuse, Grant effectively organizes and emphasizes his points, providing the reader with a roadmap that facilitates both attention and retention. Add in stellar pacing, and you’ve got a five-star book.

When it comes to parenting material, Grant doesn’t disappoint. “Originals” offers information of interest to caregivers throughout such as “[t]eachers tend to discriminate against highly creative students, labeling them as troublemakers” and “[r]esearch on highly creative adults shows that they tended to move to new cities much more frequently than their peers in childhood.” The book also focuses in great detail on combating the statistical probabilities of birth order (“[y]ounger brothers were 10.6 times more likely than their older siblings to attempt to steal a base”) and raising children to have an internal moral compass (“give ‘explanations of why behaviors are inappropriate, often with reference to their consequences for others’”).

Grant writes in closing, “Becoming original is not the easiest path in the pursuit of happiness, but it leaves us perfectly poised for the happiness of pursuit.” This sentiment also applies to the parenting advice he offers: encouraging questioning and fighting one’s own impulses doesn’t make the day-to-day of raising children easy, but it prepares them for a fulfilling, fruitful, compassionate, and, yes, original life.


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