Talking as Fast as I Can PDF Summary

Talking as Fast as I Can PDF Summary

From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls

Well, it’s pretty far to say that Lauren Graham is currently winning on two fronts.

As an author and actress, she is undoubtedly transforming into a real gem and inspiration for thousands of people all across the globe.

We were skeptical about the possibility of her excelling in two fields, but she proved us wrong.

Let’s delve into her message!

Who Should Read “Talking as Fast as I Can”? And Why?

How fast can you talk?

Is it the speed of uttering words, or the concept of saying the right ones?

Well, the narrative behind this interesting book places emphasis on life as a whole, and how things unfold.

As such, it would be totally imprudent to exclude a group of people or to prioritize one over the other. With that said, we believe that “Talking as Fast as I Can” deserves all the merits and as such it’s suitable for everyone.

About Lauren Graham

Lauren Graham

Lauren Graham’s recent achievements can’t be put into words. Critics describe her recent take off in the professional realm as merely a glimpse of her unwavering potential.

We couldn’t agree more.

She is the author of:

“Talking as Fast as I Can PDF Summary”

In the beginning, Lauren looks back at some of the things that hold a special place in her memory. Born in Hawaii, Lauren didn’t have enough time to work on her tan, as they moved to Japan shortly afterward.

While in Tokyo, she discovered that her favorite food is in fact: mashed peas. They had to stay with her grandmother for a while and had a Japanese nanny, who Lauren loved dearly. She even remembers that her first word in Japanese was o-heso (which can be roughly translated into belly button).

Lauren’s mother grew up in Japan and had no problems at speaking in Japanese.

Back in the days, when there were just a couple of TV channels in the States and even fewer in other countries, her mom was aired on national TV in Japan.

Appearing on a TV with the size of a tablet, Lauren’s mother as a non-native Japanese speaker got the attention of Japan.

Her rise to prominence and traveling made it difficult to fulfill the traditional duties as a mother and wife.

As a result of that, her parents decided to go separate ways, because they couldn’t make their marriage work. The urge to pursue a career as a singer urged Lauren’s mom to split up her marriage in a friendly manner. Soon afterward, Lauren was on a plane to the US.

For quite some time, she recalls of sleeping on a bunk-bed-type placed in the kitchen. Their “residence” was actually a houseboat, which from today’s perspective seems kind of weird when you think about it. So, Lauren decides to call her dad and find out what was the reason behind it.

The chit-chat didn’t pan out as well as Lauren had imagined. After a lot of beating around the bush, we finally get to the bottom of the mystery:  

It was a strange place, I’ll admit, that marina—but friendly. Very bohemian.
Everybody there was sort of dropping out from society, which we were too, in a way—for weeks after we’d left D.C., I’m pretty sure my mother still thought I worked on Capitol Hill.
But I got to spend more time with you, which was 13 the goal. It was beautiful there.
We drove around a lot and went to the beach.
It probably seems strange to you now, but it was a 1970s thing to do, I guess. And we had fun.

No one knows why, but most of the people back in the days had some weird perception regarding the life of an actor. The closest thing you’ll ever get to watch on TV was Star Search and perhaps American Idol.

Same as nowadays, there were some major publications all working in feverish haste to publish the latest scandal or rumor.

We are pretty sure that it won’t come as a shock to you but back then, you couldn’t lean on Social Platforms to get media coverage.

Despite all of this and the lack of genuine knowledge of what to expect once she unleashes her talent, Lauren was determined to enter the big door in Broadway.

In the meantime, Lauren exerted herself to become a member of Actors’ Equity to fuel her ascend. She realized that one of the ways to achieve that was to earn enough hours in order to get in line for membership.

There was a faster route, but it was even harder to pull off. She had to figure out a way to get casted in an Equity role. As it turns out, that was easier said than done. Lauren put a lot of pressure on herself, especially on the part “special skills.”

It’s hard to stand out from the rest if you don’t possess a special set of skills and flair that will eventually put you on the pedestal.

Many actors were auditioned, and Lauren miraculously managed to leave a very good first impression. Maybe even too good, for the directors and members of the Equity Company.

During the audition, Lauren was caught off guard, and her vulnerability appeared on the surface.

At one point, she felt like a failure because in her opinion some of the things could have been done a lot better. The overall embracement took a toll on her performance as she realized that there’s still a lot of ground to cover.

Yes, it became clear that Lauren wasn’t psyched up for the challenge, mostly due to her burning desire to obtain the Equity card. When you are prepared to cling on anything out of desperation, you know that something isn’t right.

Years later, Lauren pushed her way through the obstacles and made it to Broadway.

It was one of those moments; you’re so thrilled that you don’t know how to react. It was literally a dream come true.

It was not all milk and honey, to say the least, but there is some magic in the idea of exceeding your expectations day in and day out.

Lauren was also given the honors to play Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls.

The Rise of Gilmore Girls

The Gilmore Girls script was delivered to Lauren’s home, long before the whole show commenced. On the flip side, she didn’t read it the first time. Lauren acknowledged the possibility of becoming too fond of the storyline and feared that a potential bond could end in separation.

But, despite this early pessimism, she was still in the game!

The whole world turned upside down the minute Lauren got the role to play Lorelai Gilmore, the thirty-two-year-old mother of a sixteen-year-old girl.

People close to her voiced concerns about the potential twist that could happen if her character gets the wrong label as the “Mom.” Lauren Graham claimed that she never once thought about that, and even less worry about something like that.

Lauren quickly realized that she is not one of those actors/actresses who want to see and critically observe themselves onstage.

When you’re committed to such an important project that does 22 episodes per season, you must know where you draw the line. Watching every single scene could take too much of your time, and make you totally engrossed into it.

Why would someone consider Gilmore Girls to be special?

Is it really that easy to discern it from all the rest? – Lauren had fallen in love with the script, and the story it portrays.

Later on, you’ll come to some important details that explain why Lauren craved to return and be a part of Gilmore Girls, once more.

It surely wasn’t easy for Lauren to say goodbye. As an “unemployed” actor afterward, she struggled to organize her daily activities, and cope with the new lifestyle. When that transition emerges, it’s tough to move on, especially when you were a part of a successful project such as Parenthood or Gilmore Girls.

The same holds true for other professions or jobs that are just as enjoyable as Parenthood.

It was a confusing time for Lauren, as she tried to get through this tough period in life.

When things get out of hand, we feel this need to ask for help, or at least to have someone special who can lighten the burden.

On the other side of the fence, are those moments when you feel so excited about something that you can barely sit still. Don’t you just hate it when a person you know, or a celebrity can’t keep their mouth shut about having a brand-new car, or getting a raise, or whatever?

Yeah, congratulations!

Are we done here? – How lucky they feel; it’s not our primary concern!

Lauren believed that the same reaction would ensue after appearing on a show like Parenthood. Nobody actually believed that Lauren could be as annoying as that, but let’s give her the benefit of the doubt, shall we?!

In this chapter, Lauren lavishes praise upon the cast, the crew, the screenwriters, the directors, all the fellow actors, and proves her point.

One big family is how she prefers to describe it!

Key Lessons from “Talking as Fast as I Can”

1.      Keep the fire burning
2.      Find the beauty in the small things
3.      Don’t abandon your dreams

Keep the fire burning

When things get rough, people often collapse on all fronts. You must not succumb to this pressure, and keep this momentum going.

Before you know it, life will tip the scale in your favor without any preparation whatsoever.

Your job is never to give up and keep blazing the trail for others.

Find the beauty in the small things

Like we said, somewhere down the road you’ll get greedy. You’ll forget about the things that made you happy and filled you with excitement regardless of their trivial nature.

Never fall under the thumb of “more” just keep pushing but remain vigilant.

That is the formula for achieving ultimate prosperity.

Don’t abandon your dreams

If you are given the option to fast forward to all the great moments and skip the hardship, what would you do?

If you are like most people, you’d probably take the fast track to success. But in doing so, you’ll abandon your dreams, which are consisted of both dangers and rewards.

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“Talking as Fast as I Can Quotes”

Because who wants to Fast Forward anyway? You might miss some of the good parts. Click To Tweet Because here's the thing: I was fine on my own, and so are you. But it can be hard when you feel ready for Happy Couplehood, and you seem to have missed the train. Click To Tweet So don't let your plans have the last laugh, but laugh last when your plan laughs, and when your plan has the last laugh, laugh back laughing! Click To Tweet If absolutely everything important is only happening on such as a small screen, isn't that just a shame? Click To Tweet Every bit of advice below was actually given to me by a fancy person or someone who knows a fancy person and the methods they use to stay fancy. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

We highly doubt that you haven’t watched at least a single episode of Gilmore Girls, but if that’s the case, we urge you to give it a go.

Apart from that, we love how personal and enlightening this book is. It truly opens us our eyes to the fluidity of life, and how we can leverage that.

You should most definitely give it a quick read.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Very Good Lives PDF Summary

Very Good Lives PDF Summary

The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination

Very Good Lives is an illustrated and somewhat edited version of J. K. Rowling’s 2008 commencement speech at Harvard University.

And it’s profoundly moving, funny, and inspirational!

Read ahead to find out how in our summary.

Who Should Read “Very Good Lives”? And Why?

If you like inspirational commencement speeches such as David Foster Wallace’s This Is Water, then you’ll more than enjoy Very Good Lives.

The same holds true if you watch TED Talks to find meaning and direction in life; speaking of which, you can find large portions of this book in J. K. Rowling’s TED Talk, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure.”

About J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling is a British novelist, one of the bestselling authors in history.

She is best-known for her Harry Potter books, which have sold almost half a billion copies worldwide (that is not a mistake) and have been translated into no less than 80 languages.

Unsurprisingly, all of them have been turned into blockbuster movies, the last two of which were produced by Rowling herself.

Since completing the Harry Potter saga, Rowling has written five books for adult readers: The Casual Vacancy, The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, Career of Evil, and Lethal White. The last four have been published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, and form the Cormoran Strike series.

J. K. Rowling has received an OBE for services to children’s literature and supports many charities.

“Very Good Lives PDF Summary”

Very Good Lives is the book version of J. K. Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech, sharing her wisdom and knowledge on, mainly, two topics: “the benefits of failure” and “the crucial importance of imagination.”  

J. K. Rowling’s Youth and the Realities of Poverty

“Looking back at the twenty-one-year-old that I was at graduation is a slightly uncomfortable experience for the forty-two-year-old that she has become,” says Rowling at the beginning of this book.


Because, as almost everybody knows, the 21-year-old J. K. Rowling was not at the right place in her life. And that is an understatement: as she says, by any conventional measure, she was an epic failure!

Now, how did that happen?

Difficult to say.

She was always interested in writing, but, since she came from a poor family, this was a career her parents hadn’t encouraged one bit, thinking that writing would never pay a mortgage or secure a pension. (“I know that the irony strikes with the force of a cartoon anvil now,” Rowling notes jokingly)

So, they didn’t allow Rowling to study English Literature, and, as a compromise to them, she chose Modern Languages. But, as she says, even before her parents’ car had rounded the corner at the end of the road, Rowling decided to “[ditch] German and [scuttle] off down the Classics corridor.”

Basically, this means that the compromise resulted in the worst decision imaginable (in the eyes of Rowling’s parents): choosing a subject even less useful than English Literature.

It didn’t matter that Rowling was a good student; simply put, nobody needed anyone to tell him the names of the Greek gods and nymphs.

Fast forward a few years and…

An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.

The Rock Bottom and The Benefits of Failure

Now, it is important to note that Rowling doesn’t blame her parents for trying to steer her in a different direction.

Poverty is not an ennobling experience, she says, and since her parents had been poor for most of their lives, they knew full well the realities of poverty.

“Poverty entails fear,” Rowling goes on, “and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships.”

Only fools would ever want to romanticize it.

However, even at her poorest, what Rowling feared the most wasn’t poverty, but failure. And then she realized that her epic failure – even though no fun by any measure – was the greatest thing that could ever happen to her.


Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.
Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter and a big idea.
And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.

Failure gave Rowling “inner security” that she never attained before by passing examinations. It taught her things about herself that she could have learned no other way.

Among other things, Rowling discovered that she had “a strong will, and more discipline than [she] had suspected;” even more importantly, she also discovered that she had “friends whose value was truly above the price of rubies.”

Amnesty International and the Crucial Importance of Imagination

Looking back, Rowling realizes that her failures were great formative experiences; and the same holds true for one of her earliest day jobs as well.

Namely, in her 20s, Rowling worked as a bilingual secretary and researcher at the African research department at Amnesty International’s headquarters in London.

There, she worked with many ex-political prisoners, “people who had been displaced from their homes, or fled into exile, because they had the temerity to speak against their governments.”

And those were her co-workers!

What her job entailed was even worse:

There in my little office I read hastily scribbled letters smuggled out of totalitarian regimes by men and women who were risking imprisonment to inform the outside world of what was happening to them. I saw photographs of those who had disappeared without trace, sent to Amnesty by their desperate families and friends. I read the testimony of torture victims and saw pictures of their injuries. I opened handwritten, eye-witness accounts of summary trials and executions, of kidnappings and rapes.

Why is this important?

Because Rowling had never experienced anything even remotely similar to this and, yet, she was able to empathize.


Rousseau answered that question centuries ago: because of the power of the human imagination.

“Unlike any other creature on this planet,” Rowling reminds us, “humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places.”

And that is an enormous power!

True, it can also sometimes be a burden, since, no matter how happy your life may seem to be, you can still suffer profoundly because of the pain people you don’t know are going through.

Even so, Rowling doesn’t envy the people who never employ their imaginative powers. They suffer from mental agoraphobia, she says; and they are often more afraid.

Ancient Quotes for the Modern Students

J. K. Rowling ends her speech by quoting two ancient authors and reminding the modern students how relevant their words still are.

The first is Plutarch, a Greek biographer and Platonist, who once wrote that “what we achieve inwardly will change outer reality.”

“This is an astonishing statement,” notes Rowling, “and yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses, in part, our inescapable connection with the outside world, the fact that we touch other people’s lives simply by existing.”


Well, first, you should remember that Very Good Lives is a book version of a commencement speech for the 2008 Harvard graduates.

And as Rowling explains to them, what Plutarch was trying to point out two millennia ago, was relatively simple.

Namely, being a Harvard graduate isn’t such a minor thing.

First of all, it means that you’re an American, citizen of the only remaining superpower in the world.

Secondly, it means that you’re either very wealthy or very smart – not everyone can afford to be a Harvard graduate or be awarded a Harvard scholarship.

And thirdly, it means that you’ve gotten the very best education an institution can offer.

So, in other words, some of the Harvard graduates of 2008 who listen to J. K. Rowling’s speech may one day become the people who decide whether the US should bomb another nation or help the refugees from a different one.

If Rowling’s speech touches them, they may make a more humane decision, and, thus, help the world in an exceptional way; and the reason for that: a single speech which changed them inwardly.

Rowling ends her speech with another quote, this one by Seneca: “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

Key Lessons from “Very Good Lives”

1.      Your CV Doesn’t Define You
2.      Failure Strips Away the Inessential
3.      Imagination Is the Root of Empathy

Your CV Doesn’t Define You

“Given a Time Turner,” writes J. K. Rowling, “I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement.”

And she goes on: “Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.”

And this comes from someone who was as poor as one can be without being homeless; and became the author of the bestselling book series in the history of mankind.

Failure Strips Away the Inessential

Failure is not a nice thing; however, it does have some benefits.

J. K. Rowling found out this the hard way: at the age of 30, she was a divorced mother of a three-year-old daughter with no job or money; and her mother had recently passed away; the future seemed more than bleak; she was, in her own words, an epic failure.

However, that’s where things started getting better.

Not because something magical happened, but because, simply put, nothing magical could have happened.

Bob Dylan sang that “when you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose” – and that’s the place J. K. Rowling was before Harry Potter made her so famous.

But, she says, she could only write it because her failures revealed to her that nothing else mattered. The worst had happened, and she was still alive.

If she had succeeded in anything, she implies, she would have probably never finished Harry Potter, because she would have always had something to rely on.

The same is probably true for each and every one of us.

We have dreams, but we stop short of turning them into reality because our lives are comfortable enough to make us forget that we are not immortal.

Imagination Is the Root of Empathy

Human beings are exceptional in more than one way; one of the least talked about ways, however, is their capability to simulate the effects of something that has never happened to them, merely through the imaginative powers of their brains.

Rowling says that these powers can save humanity; because empathy stems from them, from our capability to identify with people who suffer.

And because:

If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change. We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

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“Very Good Lives Quotes”

As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters. I wish you all very good lives. Click To Tweet We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better. Click To Tweet You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Click To Tweet Unlike any other creature on this planet, human beings can learn and understand without having experienced. Click To Tweet Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Even though Very Good Lives is a fairly short book, it’s undoubtedly one which can effectively change your life. And that’s not used in the usual cliched way, nor it is an exaggeration.

One of the all-time most inspirational speeches and, thus, one of the best graduation gift books ever.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning PDF Summary

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning PDF Summary

How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter

Marie Kondo made tidying up not only a fashionable habit but also a life-changing one.

Margareta Magnusson is here to offer some tips and tricks from the practices in her own home country.

Ladies and gentlemen, time to learn a little something about:

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.

Who Should Read “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning”? And Why?

If you are a hoarder who wants to change his/her lifestyle as soon as possible, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning may be the first book you need to read – and straight away, if you ask us!

The same holds true for anyone who doesn’t know what decluttering is, and has a problem finding space in his/her apartment for his new piece of clothing, or even a pencil.

Also, if you enjoy watching Marie Kondo YouTube tutorials and reading her books (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy), there’s no reason not to enjoy Margareta Magnusson’s debut – their books may have a different starting point, but essentially they do have the same message.

And for all their differences, it’s only natural once you finish Tolstoy, to read Dostoyevsky, isn’t?

About Margareta Magnusson

Margareta Magnusson

Margareta Magnusson is a Swedish Stockholm-based author and artist, dubbed by at least one author “the Marie Kondo of death.”

Not younger than 80 years nor older than a 100 (she is shy about her age), Magnusson is a graduate of Beckman College School of Design and has had her work exhibited in many galleries around the world, most notably in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Published in2018, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is her debut book; it became a New York Times bestseller and quickly rose to the top of many “best of” lists of 2018.

“The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning PDF Summary”

“Part guidebook on how to how to declutter your home, part meditation on coming to terms with aging and how to make the process of downsizing less painful,” The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning is precisely what you’d expect from a book with such a title.

“The only thing we know for sure,” writes Magnusson in the very first sentence of the book, “is that one day we will die. But before that, we can do anything.”

Apparently, one of the most important things one can and should do is decluttering his/her house.

Because, as our favorite modern lyricist Leonard Cohen says (quoted by Magnusson): “Putting your house in order, if you can do it, is one of the most comforting activities, and the benefits of it are incalculable.”

So, let’s see what this means in practice and how tidying up your home can be – or even is – related to death.

Döständning, or One Last Sweep Before You Die

Let’s start with an inevitable fact: one day you’ll die, and you’ll leave a lot of items behind you. Have you ever thought about what will happen to them once you’re gone?

As it should be only obvious, your loved ones will one day have to go through them. You can guess the results: they’ll throw away some of them, they’ll keep others, they’ll try to decide who deserves what of the most valuable ones.

This process is both physically and psychologically taxing; in many cases, no wonder that, in many cases, it can result in acrimonious disputes.

Take, for example, Margareta herself.

On her deathbed, her mother left her a charming bracelet. However, unlike her mother, Margareta has five children, so she knew full well that no matter what her choice would be on who to inherit it, that bracelet will probably cause much more sadness and bitterness than joy and laugher.

Her solution?

She simply sold the bracelet; as valuable as it was (of course, emotionally much more than financially), it wasn’t nearly as valuable as family bliss.

The selling of the bracelet was part of Margareta’s döständning, Swedish for “death cleaning,” or, as we would like to say “one last sweep before you die.”

It may sound strange, but it is a fact of life in the Scandinavian countries.

Just like it is a great idea to clean your house before you leave on vacation (so that you are not shocked once you come back), the Scandinavians believe that it is an even better one – nay, a duty! – to comb through all of your belongings and throw away the unnecessary stuff before you live this planet.

After all, who knows them better than you? And why should you bother others with your useless items?

Decluttering Is Bonding – If You Do It Right

In other words, if you care for your loved ones, then it’s only fair to spare them the emotional and physical burden of cleaning up your stuff.

Start with your attic or basement (depending on which one of the two you have) and with the big items: furniture, books, items that take up a lot of space…

It’s not that you can’t start with the small items in that secret box under your bed, but let’s face it – it will take you forever to make any progress if you do that.

Not that it’s easy to get rid of your old dollhouses or twice-used sports equipment!

After all, these items will remind you of your happy childhood days just as you’re nearing to your death; and, as we learned from Citizen Kane, nothing can be more poignant and heartbreaking than that!

However, think of the problems your books or toys may cause between your loved ones once you are gone; and should we remind you that you won’t be there to mend them?

So, ask yourself for each item: will you ever need this again? Will someone else need it?

Granted, as tricky as it is, the first question may be a bit easier to answer than the latter one.

Magnusson has a solution for that: if you don’t know if something will be useful to some of your loved ones, well, call them and ask them!

While you’re alive.

There, now you’ve created a great opportunity for the family to bond!

Because not many of them will know everything about the younger “you,” and some of them – like your grandchildren, for example – will probably discover a completely new “you.”

Nothing bonds as much as a walk down memory lane.

Here’s your chance to walk it – while you declutter!

Döständning and Being Discreet

As you’ve probably guessed, it’s a bit dangerous to invite your loved ones over to help you declutter if some of the things you’ve kept throughout the years, you’ve kept hidden from them for a reason.

Take a page out of Margareta Magnusson’s book.

After the death of her parents, she was death cleaning their house and found a few unusual items; for example, secret cartons of cigarettes hidden in a linen closet.

Apparently, her mother was smoking in private – something she didn’t want anyone to know or find out. Margareta included: she realized that she might have been happier if she had never found about her mother’s vice.

More mysterious and even scarier, in her father’s desk, Margareta discovered a large piece of arsenic dating from at least three decades before her father’s death.

Since her father passed away in the 1970s, it was evident to Margareta that the arsenic was acquired when her parents had feared that Sweden might be invaded by the Germans.

However, why did it remain in the cabinet for so long? Did her father – or even her parents – had another secret that Margareta would probably never find out?

Once again, do you really like your children and their children to wonder about things such as these once you’re not alive to offer an explanation?

So, be very careful before you start inviting your relatives and gifting them your memories. Some of your memories are not supposed to be given away.

Yes, that is especially true for your diaries and your love letters!

Read them carefully and see if there’s anything in there you don’t want anyone to find out.

If so, ask yourself whether it’s smart to keep them still.

That’s right:

Time to throw them away or, better yet, burn them!

The Throw-Away Box and the Cabinet for the Ugly

Now, Margareta knows that it’d be almost impossible for you to get rid of things as personal as diaries, letters or photographs.

If that’s the case, Margareta suggests putting them in an easily disposable “throw-away box,” adorned with a sticker: “please throw away this without opening it.”

This should certainly help since it bereaves you of the burden of throwing away something you cherish in addition to relieving you from your doubts that these things will eventually be seen by someone else after your death.

But, let’s face it: there’s no guarantee about the latter.

If you don’t believe us, just ask Franz Kafka!

So, we suggest the strategy above: when you are confident that something of yours should be seen by nobody other than yourself, make sure that you are the last person who’ll ever see it.

On the subject of throw-away containers – Magnusson mentions another type:

I do know people who maintain what we in Sweden call a fulskåp, a cabinet for the ugly. A fulskåp is a cupboard full of gifts you can’t stand to look at, and which are impossible to regift. Usually these are presents from distant aunts and uncles that you put on display when the giver comes to visit.

You don’t need Magnusson to tell you that “this is a bad idea.” It both occupies space and inspires others to give you similar gifts.

If those gifts are not who you are – be honest.

If you’re a girl and you vax, you know what we’re talking about: the rip of the Band-Aid hurts like hell, but everything’s both better and cleaner soon after.

Key Lessons from “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning”

1.      Decluttering: A Lesson from the Vikings
2.      Swedish Death Cleaning: The Art You Should Master
3.      Decluttering and the Two Questions You Should Ask About Each Item You Own

Decluttering: A Lesson from the Vikings

Once you die, you leave behind many of your items on this planet. Of course, these become a responsibility of your loved ones: they need to clean your stuff up.

That’s not very fair on your part if you ask Margareta Magnusson.

So, take a page out of the book of the Vikings: when they died, they were buried (or cremated) together with their belongings.

This way, the Vikings believed, they wouldn’t miss their favorite items in Valhalla; but also – speaking in more practical manners – this way the surviving loved ones wouldn’t have to quarrel over who should own them.

For example, in Greek mythology, Ajax went mad and killed himself after Odysseus got Achilles’ armor soon after Achilles was killed.

Yup, that’s a very cruel, but also good, metaphor for the problems your bracelet may cause once you die – if, say, you have more than one daughter.

Swedish Death Cleaning: The Art You Should Master

There’s a better way to tackle this problem.

It’s called döständning in Swedish, a word which can be translated as “death cleaning” in English.

And it means exactly what you think it means: getting rid of the stuff you don’t need so that your surviving loved ones don’t have to once you leave this planet.

It’s not only good manners – but it’s also a great way to spare your loved ones the psychological burden of painful memories even long after you’re gone.

“Let me help make your loved ones’ memories of you nice,” says Magnusson at one place, “instead of awful.”

Decluttering and the Two Questions You Should Ask About Each Item You Own

An excellent way to decide whether an item should be thrown away or kept is by asking two questions about it.

The first one is the obvious one: “Will I ever need this?”

The second one becomes more important with every day you’re nearing to your death “Will anyone I know be happier if I save this?”

If you don’t know the answer to the second question, invite your loved ones and ask them in person. Thus, decluttering becomes a great way to bond with them.

However, don’t ever forget:

You can always hope and wait for someone to want something in your home, but you cannot wait forever, and sometimes you must just give cherished things away with the wish that they end up with someone who will create new memories of their own.

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“The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning Quotes”

Start with the large items in your home, and finish with the small. Click To Tweet I often ask myself: ‘will anyone I know be happier if I save this?’ Click To Tweet The one thing we know for sure is that we will die one day. But before that you can try to do almost anything. Click To Tweet You really can't take everything with you, so maybe it is better to not try to own it all. Click To Tweet It is amazing, and also a little strange, how many things we accumulate in a lifetime. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Before The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, we didn’t even know that there was such a thing as “death cleaning.” Now, it’s suddenly all we think about.

“A fond and wise little book,” writes Dwight Garner for The New York Times. “I jettison advice books after I’ve flipped through them. This one I will keep.”

We too, Dwight. This one’s a great, great, great book.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

What the Dog Saw PDF Summary

What the Dog Saw PDF Summary

And Other Adventures

You’d think that we’ve summarized all of Gladwell’s books, right?

Well, there’s still one left:

What the Dog Saw.

Who Should Read “What the Dog Saw”? And Why?

If you read Gladwell’s New Yorker column regularly, then you shouldn’t read What the Dog Saw: the book is a collection of his best (and best-known) essays, so the chances are you’ve already read it.

However, if you don’t have a New Yorker subscription, then buy this book; it’s Gladwell, so you’ll never regret that decision – even if you subscribe to the New Yorker in the future.

Some of the essays in this book deserve to be read more than once.

About Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is a bestselling Canadian author and long-time staff writer for The New Yorker.

He has written five books, and all of them made it to #1 at The New York Times bestseller list: The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath.

Gladwell is also the host of the popular podcast Revisionist History.

Read more about him here.   

“What the Dog Saw PDF Summary”

 “Nothing frustrates me more than someone who reads something of mine or anyone else’s and says, angrily, ‘I don’t buy it,’” writes Malcolm Gladwell in the “Preface” of What the Dog Saw.

“Why are they angry?” he goes on:

Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. Not the kind of writing that you’ll find in this book, anyway. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone else’s head — even if in the end you conclude that someone else’s head is not a place you’d really like to be.

What the Dog Saw is a collection of 19 articles – all previously published on the pages of The New York Times – in which Gladwell tries to show the world through the eyes of the others, be the others alcoholics (as in the second article of the second part) or dogs (as in the last article of the first part – the one which gives the book its title).

The best part?

By his own admission, out of the countless articles he has written while working for The New Yorker (which is ever since 1996), these 19 are his favorites.

The even better part?

All of them are available on the site of The New Yorker.

And we’ve provided the links!

That way, if you’d like to, you can read this book in its entirety today.

Part 1: Obsessives, Pioneers, and Other Varieties of Minor Genius

The first section of the book includes six essays and is, in the words of Gladwell “about obsessives and what I like to call minor geniuses — not Einstein and Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela and the other towering architects of the world in which we live, but people like Ron Popeil… and Shirley Polykoff.”

The Pitchman: Ron Popeil and the Conquest of the American Kitchen

First published in 2000, The Pitchman won Malcolm Gladwell the 2001 National Magazine award. It discusses Ron Popeil, an exceptional direct response marketer and the inventor of things such as Showtime Rotisserie and the Veg-o-Matic.

But, wait, there’s more!

No, there’s not. That’s just another thing Popeil has invented.

Yup, we’re talking about the phrase.

(Read the full article here)

The Ketchup Conundrum: Mustard Now Comes in Dozens of Different Varieties – Why Has Ketchup Stayed the Same?

Back in the 1970s, a guy named Howard Moskowitz did a detailed study of the different types of spaghetti sauce on the market and realized something groundbreaking.

Namely, that there isn’t a perfect spaghetti sauce, nor either one of them is better than the others. Simply put, perfection has a plural nature, and intermarket variability became a thing.

And that works for many things – except for ketchup. Many entrepreneurs – the story of Jim Wigon is told here – have tried displacing Heinz’s regular tomato ketchup from the top, but not one of them has succeeded.


Moskowitz shrugs: “I guess ketchup is ketchup.”

(Read the full article here)

Blowing Up: How Nassim Taleb Turned the Inevitability of Disaster into an Investment Strategy

Nassim Nicholas Taleb needs no introduction – especially not from the guys who’ve introduced him quite a few times and summarized all of his books.

If you’ve read at least some of them, you already know everything you need to know about this essay, which is more than worth the read, because it reveals the roots of Taleb’s Socratic and crucial discovery: we’ll know more once we admit that we don’t know all the things we say we do.

How times change, though!

Just a year after What the Dog Saw was published, Taleb stopped being a minor genius and grew to become one of the celebrated cited thinkers of our time and age.

Some would say even a lot bigger than the guy who profiles him here.

(Read the full article here)

True Colors: Hair Dye and The Hidden History of Postwar America

True Colors tells the story of two exceptional female copywriters of the 1960s: Shirley Polykoff and Ilon Specht.

The first one, irresistibly vain and flamboyantly brilliant, worked for “Clairol” and came up with the branding slogan “Does she… or doesn’t she?” and the tagline “Hair color so natural only her hairdresser knows for sure.”

After this, the percentage of women who dyed their hair jumped from 7% to 40% in less than two decades!

Ilon Specht worked for a competitor of Clairol, L’Oreal. She came up with the slogan: “I use the most expensive hair color in the world, but I don’t mind spending more for L’Oreal, because I’m worth it!”

As you can see, both women summarized the particular feminist sensibility of the day in memorable epigrammatic phrases.

One of the best articles in the book.

(Read the full article here)

John Rock’s Error: What the Inventor of the Birth Control Pill Didn’t Know About Women’s Health

John Rock was an American gynecologist and obstetrician.

Also, a devout Catholic.

Which makes the title of the article already a bit strange: who would have guessed that it was a Catholic who invented the birth control pill? (Monty Python certainly not.)

Now, what the article deals with the most is a possible, and interesting, side-effect of the pill; namely, the fact that it guarantees 12 periods a year means that Western societies – and especially American women – are more prone to cancer.

It’s a taxing task for the body to be subjected to more than 400 menstrual cycles in the space of 40 years!

“What we think of as normal – frequent menses – is, in evolutionary terms, abnormal,” writes Gladwell.

In other words, women may pay more than what they bargain for when using the pill often.

(Read the full article here)

What the Dog Saw: Cesar Millan and the Movements of Mastery

In case you don’t know him, Cesar Millan is the Mexican-American host of the National Geographic show Dog Whisperer. In this essay, Gladwell tells his story, from his humble beginnings on his grandfather’s farm in Sinaloa – where he was called El Perrero, “the dog boy” – to his present-day successes.

The epiphanic moment in Milan’s life: when he realized that “to succeed in the world he could not be just a dog whisperer. He needed to be a people whisperer.”

And his techniques have done precisely that – because they now help two species communicate better. Gladwell unravels what goes on through Milan’s head while he trains a dog – but also what probably occurs in the dog’s head when it is being trained.

(Read the full article here)

Part 2: Theories, Predictions and Diagnoses

“The second section,” writes Gladwell, “is devoted to theories, to ways of organizing experience. How should we think about homelessness, or financial scandals, or a disaster like the crash of the Challenger?

Well, let’s see!

Open Secrets: Enron, Intelligence and the Perils of Too Much Information

That it’d be possible for people to one day start a sentence with “Enron was…” would have made little to no sense to anyone as late as 2000.

And yet, just a year later, Enron, employer of almost 30,000 people and “America’s Most Innovative Company” for six years in a row, filed for bankruptcy.

You should have already learned a lot about the Enron scandal by now, so why should you read Malcolm Gladwell’s article?

Here’s a great reason:

Because it uses the scandal to unravel one of the paradoxes of our age.

Namely, how it is not lies and secrets, but an abundance of available information that obfuscates the darker sides of the complex organizations in the modern world.

(Read the full article here)

Million-Dollar Murray: Why Problems Like Homelessness May Be Easier to Solve Than to Manage

This article is already a classic.

It follows the daily struggles of Murray Barr, “a bear of a man, an ex-marine, six feet tall and heavyset,” but also a hopeless alcoholic roaming the streets of Reno, Nevada.

His routine?

Getting drunk, falling over, then being taken by police officers to the hospital; when he is released, he starts his routine all over again.

Gladwell’s interest in Barr?

Patrick O’Brien and Steve Johns – the policemen who had spent almost two decades years picking up Murray – realized that Murray’s hospital bill is higher than anyone’s in the country.

O’Brien surprising conclusion: “It costs us one million dollars to not do something about Murray.”

(Read the full article here)

The Picture Problem: Mammography, Air Power, and the Limits of Looking

The Picture Problem – at least if you ask us, the least interesting article of the collection –deals with the extent of the faith we put in images.

You see, we are pretty aware nowadays that we see in many images precisely what we want to see in them; and even though sometimes finding the right info in them is similar to searching for a polar bear in a snowstorm, we believe that we are able to do that.

However, that’s not how the Iraq War started.

(Read the full article here)

Something Borrowed: Should a Charge of Plagiarism Ruin Your life?

This article deals with the play Frozenby Bryony Lavery, first performed in 1998 to great acclaim. In fact, in 2004, the play made it to Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play.

However, that very same year, Lavery was accused of plagiarizing some parts of it, taking at least 675 words from the book Guilty by Reason of Insanity by Dorothy Lewis and a, especially, a 1997 article about Lewis written by none other than Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell uses the event to discuss the difference between plagiarizing and borrowing and the copyright laws and its limitations.

(Read the full article here)

Connecting the Dots: The Paradoxes of Intelligence Reform

In Connecting the Dots,Gladwell examines the notoriously secret world of military intelligence and turns it on its head (as he usually does).

His goal?

Figuring out a better and more effective way for intelligence agencies to identify terrorists and terroristic patterns.

And, of course, stop them before its too late.

(Read the full article here)

The Art of Failure: Why Some People Choke and Others Panic

There’s a difference between choking and panicking, says, Gladwell, and it’s a big one.

Namely, choking is a kind of failure which results from thinking too much over matters you’ve previously mastered.

This often happens in sports: no matter how good a player is, sometimes the pressure of a moment overwhelms him, and he suddenly leaves the comfortable world of the unconscious and is suddenly unable to shoot properly.

On the other hand, panicking is a failure which results from the absence of knowledge.

In this case, you’re in a situation you’ve never been before, and you have no idea what to do.

As you can see, there’s a big difference between the two. Gladwell paints it vividly in this essay.

(Read the full article here)

Blowup: Who Can Be Blamed for a Disaster Like the Challenger Explosion? No One, And We’d Better Get Used to It

This essay is about the Challenger disaster, and Malcolm Gladwell offers a fresh pair of eyes to it.

His conclusion is a depressing one: no matter what we do, in some spheres of life, disasters will always happen, simply because there are just too many factors which can contribute to them happening:

What accidents like the Challenger should teach us is that we have constructed a world in which the potential for high-tech catastrophe is embedded in the fabric of day-to-day life. At some point in the future — for the most mundane of reasons, and with the very best of intentions — a NASA spacecraft will again go down in flames.
We should at least admit this to ourselves now. And if we cannot — if the possibility is too much to bear — then our only option is to start thinking about getting rid of things like space shuttles altogether.

(Read the full article here)

Part 3: Personality, Character and Intelligence

“The third section,” writes Gladwell, “wonders about the predictions we make about people. How do we know whether someone is bad, or smart, or capable of doing something really well?”

“As you will see,” he adds, “I’m skeptical about how accurately we can make any of those judgments.”

Late Bloomers: Why Do We Equate Genius with Precocity?

In this article, Gladwell shows that there are two different types of creative geniuses: child prodigies and late bloomers.

He uses Pablo Picasso as a metaphor for the former; and Paul Cézanne as a metaphor for the latter.

But that’s not where the differences stop.

According to Gladwell, the Picassos of the world create impulsively and quickly; the Cézannes slowly and incrementally; the former know what they want to do before they start doing it; the latter experiment with their vision while creating it.

The point?

Well, see the title: both are their own type of geniuses, and it’s wrong to consider only the Picassos of the world.

(Read the full article here)

Most Likely to Succeed: How Do We Hire When We Can’t Tell Who’s Right for The Job?

In this article, Gladwell tries to point many of the problems inherent in the process of predicting job performance and evaluating talent in numerous different spheres.

He mainly focuses on three: financial analysts, teachers, and quarterbacks.

Gladwell’s analysis of the failings of the NFL Draft caused a very energetic debate in the intellectual spheres of the Internet soon after this article was published, mainly because it seemed strange to say that the NFL Draft was fraught with errors.

According to Gladwell (and the Berri/Simmons study he cites), per play, “quarterbacks taken in positions 11 through 90 in the draft actually slightly outplay those more highly paid and lauded players taken in the draft’s top ten positions.”

Among others, Steven Pinker noted that this “is simply not true.”

It turns out that it is; but, then again, it’s far from simple why and Gladwell may be wrong on this one.

(Read the full article here)

Dangerous Minds: Criminal Profiling Made Easy

In “Dangerous Minds: Criminal Profiling Made Easy,” Gladwell yet again casts doubt over our capability to predict some future event based on the present.

In this case, he examines the methods and practices of the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) of the FBI and shows that, in reality, “the whole business is a lot more complicated than the FBI imagines.”

In other words, that, for all those CSI TV shows, psychological profiling has never been empirically proven.

(Read the full article here)

The Talent Myth: Are Smart People Overrated?

To those who read us regularly, the idea that talent is overrated should be nothing new.

In The Talent Myth, Gladwell revisits this idea through the example of Enron, a company which took so much pride in its employees that one of its CEOs once noted: “The only thing that differentiates Enron from our competitors is our people, our talent.”

 “Enron hired and rewarded the very best and the very brightest,” Gladwell writes in this thought-provoking essay, “and now they are in bankruptcy.”


Let us answer that question with a rhetorical question: “What if Enron failed not in spite of its talent mindset, but because of it? What if smart people are overrated?”

(Read the full article here)

The New-Boy Network: What Do Job Interviews Really Tell Us?

Story-driven – as all Gladwell articles are – The New Boy Network tries to answer the question posited in the subtitle “what do job interviews really tell us?”

Apparently, some of the things they do are not the ones you’d expect them to.

The main reason: something called the Fundamental Attribution Error.

The Fundamental Attribution Error – or FAE, for short – is “the tendency to believe that what people do reflects who they are.”

In job interviews, it means that interviewers believe that interviewees would always behave the way they do during the interview.

This, of course, is not the case: excellent workers are sometimes very nervous during an interview, while excellent rhetoricians may be pretty average workers.

You want to avoid making the FAE?

Instead of informal conversations, use structured three-way interviews.

(Read the full article here)

Troublemakers: What Pit Bulls Can Teach Us About Crime

Breed-specific legislation (BSL) – in case you don’t know – is a law which prohibits the keeping of particular types of dogs.

The reason?

They may be dangerous.

The usual culprit?

Pit bulls.

In this article, Gladwell argues that it’s not that simple; in other words, that any dog can be trained to be evil, and that no dog is genetically predisposed to violence.

If you don’t believe us, just think of Pete the Pup, the dog from The Little Rascals; yup, he was an American Pit Bull terrier.

The simple solution?

Laws should target dog owners and not dogs.

(Read the full article here)

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“What the Dog Saw Quotes”

You don't manage a social wrong. You should be ending it. Click To Tweet What does it say about a society that it devotes more care and patience to the selection of those who handle its money than of those who handle its children? Click To Tweet To a worm in horseradish, the world is horseradish. Click To Tweet Happiness, in one sense, is a function of how closely our world conforms to the infinite variety of human preference. Click To Tweet There is more courage and heroism in defying the human impulse, in taking the purposeful and painful steps to prepare for the unimaginable. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

What the Dog Saw is Malcolm Gladwell at his best; and that’s basically as good as any modern popularizer of science at his/her best.

But, really, don’t take our word for it.

Check this book out and see for it yourself.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF: