Range: Book Review

Rating: 4/5

I have absolutely no idea how this book came into my reading list, perhaps I picked up from other blogs that I follow, or maybe goodreads adviced me to read it but it was a very interesting read.

The advice that’s given in the book is quite different from what the trend is usually in terms of education and any career choice that’s now available, with everyone targeting towards getting a specialisation in their field of choice. I have absolutely no idea if that’s right or wrong, but this book kind of provides some proof that there’s still work to be done for people who aren’t hyperspecialised, late bloomers, or like dabbling in different domains.

The book starts with the story of Tiger Woods (the hyperspecialist) and Roger Federer and how both of them dominate in their own sports, but Woods started playing when he was three (which is crazy) and Federer started quiet late, when he was in his teens. Federer dabbled in different sports before picking up Tennis in his late teens. Then there’s the example of the famous Chess sisters which dominated the world of chess.

As per Epstein, domains can be divided into Kind or Wicked. The Kind domain has rules pretty much set up, with no wiggling space, and would include domains like music and sports. The Wicked world has pretty wide open rules, some of them we might not be aware of, and where the human knowledge is mostly limited. In such world, we need to have cross domain knowledge, and one way of having that is dabbling in new and different domains, and use analogies to bring the knowledge across domains.

I found the advice to be a bit different from another set of advice espoused by Cal Newport in his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You where random dabbling and passions aren’t things you run after, but instead build capital in form of knowledge and specialisation. Both of the advices are good, and the books provide compelling evidence in their favour, but isn’t this a case of bias? I digress.

Each of the chapters is filled with a walk through history, and pretty exciting stories of some of the inventions and other tidbits.

The thing that I did not like about this book was it got too long and winding in the middle and all the way to the end. Given that the author put his case really well in the first few chapters, rest of them were being used to drill down the same ideas which felt extremely repetitive, so much so that I skipped out a couple of chapters at the end.

Overall, I really liked the book and would easily give it 4 points out of 5, taking away a point because some of the chapters were repetitive. I can say that I got inspired enough to pick up and start reading something other than computers and programming in a decent capacity.