David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is a best-selling nonfiction author several times over. A staff reporter for the New Yorker, he was recently cited on Glee—which is to say, he’s a genre-shaping writer with mass appeal, as well as a journalist whose work is more popular and trusted than that of many social scientists working in the United States today. He’s also a Christian.

I’ve been reading Gladwell for years. His 1999 piece “Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg” is a perfect example of why I love his stuff. That story begins with a richly detailed profile of a woman in Chicago, develops into an exploration of how social networks operate, and concludes with an insightful meditation on poverty. The idea came from Gladwell’s personal experience: Lois Weisberg is the mother of one of Gladwell’s college friends. The evolution of the piece from closely observed narrative to theoretical discussion demonstrates his signature, oft-copied style, which now includes a white book cover with the title printed in Caslon, an 18th-century font favored by Ben Franklin. (How’s that for signaling authority and pedigree?)

Gladwell’s new book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, is his first that touches on religion, and he credits the process of writing it to his renewed faith. He told Religion News Service that although he never had a singular conversion experience, telling stories of “people in extraordinary circumstances” led to a “slow realization of something incredibly powerful and beautiful in the faith that I grew up with that I was missing.”