A Library for the People — Malcolm Gladwell meets Carlos Leite


Sunday, Oct. 2. LA Times

Today’s paper has a fascinating story. Times writer, Henry Chu introduces us to Carlos Leite (pictured with his partner Maria de Pena.) Two years ago, Leite, 51, an illiterate Brazilian laborer, saw value in six books that were being tossed from a construction site he was working at. He asked if he could keep the books and an idea sparked and held on.

In his community, there was no public library. He started collecting books from neighbors, friends, strangers. He now has over 10,000 books in his modest home…a home that has been christened the Community Library 19th street. He has moved his living space into the back room and the library is full with children, teens and adults every day, all day. For the full article, visit the link above.

The story is striking in many ways…but what struck me (always looking for connections) is how clever an illustration of Malcolm Gladwell’s (Blink) theories on intuitive decision-making this story is. Gladwell talks about informed intuitive decision-making. The instant decisions that we make and why the ones that are right are right. Our common sense combines with our lifetime of information so that we know what feels right before we can reason what is right.

If Leite stopped to think about the six books and the logic or value behind a poor, illiterate laborer starting a library, the library would not have been. But because his instinct pushed him forward, he has brought literacy to his town in a way that politicians, money from outside sources, or planning could never have done.

I’ve written about Leonardo, Plato and other 50 plussers who contributed to humanity after the age of 50. Leite is 51 years old. If he lived in the US, he’d be a Gen-Plusser. Need I say more?

One thought on “A Library for the People — Malcolm Gladwell meets Carlos Leite

  1. I happened to read the same article and thought what a great film it would make (of course, I live in Hollywood!). One wonders what a man with the intuitive genius of Leite could have done if he had grown up in a land of opportunity. I cried when I read tha his illiterate common-law partner confided that at night she dreams of reading the books. Great reporting!
    Laure from L.A.

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