Book Club: Books about success and what drives us

In this month’s book club, MCC’s resident book reviewer Bessma Bader selects fascinating books about success and what drives us from Tahmima Anam, Will Smith and Malcolm Gladwell


Is the drive for success something we are born with? Or is it something that is fostered in us? Does it come from fear or from confidence? I often wonder what it takes to be incredibly successful with so many people out there working so hard. What is it that makes you shine brighter than the rest? And, more importantly, is it essential? We can’t all be special, right?

The following three books will look at reluctant success and its effect on relationships; determined success and the price to be paid for it; and finally, the formula for success, a proper study in what it takes to be better than the rest.



The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam / Canongate Books

The Startup Wife by Tahmima Anam, published by Canongate Books

Asha Ray is a brilliant coder who builds an app that quickly eclipses all other social media apps in popularity. Asha is married to Cyrus, who creates rituals for a living. She writes an algorithm based on this and soon, with the help of their friend Jules, they explode in popularity. They have, essentially, created a new religion. How will Asha, Cyrus and Jules’ relationships weather the sudden rise to fame and fortune?

I won’t lie; this is not an incredible literary feat, but the subject matter is relevant, and Tahmima touches on gender bias, cultural clashes, race and technology. All very relevant and exciting.



Will by Will Smith and Mark Mason / Penguin Audio

Will by Will Smith and Mark Manson, audiobook published by Penguin Audio

If you are a child of the Nineties, this book is everything. I was reluctant to listen to it (as it must be listened to since Will himself reads it) because I like Will Smith. I was worried that I would discover something about him that would make me like him less. I can safely say this will always be one of the best books on my shelf. It was one of our November book club reads and we had so much to discuss concerning Will. One main point was Will’s drive to succeed. Some thought it was admirable. Others said it was too much. I am in awe of his discipline and commitment, but I definitely would not want to be swept up in that.

In this book, what stood out to me was his loyalty and dedication to his friends and family. His values are so similar to ours in this part of the world that they resonated so much. In my day-to-day life I find myself thinking of things that he said and repeating some of them to my children. This is even a book for the non-reader! I dare anyone to start listening to this book and not enjoy it. He is not humble. He will often talk about his success in detail, and it does not take away from the overall enjoyment, and honestly, he has earned it! No one likes a boaster, but it’s a book he wrote about himself, so if not here, then where else?


Outliers: The story of success by Malcolm Gladwell / Penguin

Outliers, The Story Of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, published by Penguin Books

Another Gladwell book for you. This is probably one of the first ones I read by him. This book, for me, answers the question of who becomes successful. Gladwell looks at people’s innate talent and finds that they cannot be successful in a vacuum. Many forces have to be in place to move that talented person from the norm to become the outlier.

Success is heavily reliant on the community, the family and how many resources (or luck) help push them above the rest. Family can affect students’ success by keeping them busy and learning in the summers. Athletic success can be affected by the month your child was born in. In the true Gladwell way, this book is full of anecdotes, statistics, and social commentary, which will keep you engaged and leave you with many answers and possibly a new drive to succeed!



Books with character you feel an affinity with
– The one book everyone should read
– Books to help overwhelmed moms
– Books to inform, inspire & entertain
– Audiobooks to immerse yourself in

About the author

Bessma bint Bader is an avid blogger and qualified parenting coach with a passionate interest in child development and education. She began her popular blog, Ya Mamma, in 2010 where she shares pertinent insights into the trials and tribulations of parenting, inspired by her five young children.

Since 2010, Bessma has been on the board of Saut as its treasurer – a charitable organization that promotes the welfare of people with Downs Syndrome. She is also on the board of the King Khaled Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the social and economic conditions for thousands of Saudi citizens.

Bessma is also the co-founder and owner of The Playroom – a play center in Riyadh, built around the belief that child-led play fosters creativity, encourages divergent thinking and builds good social skills.


Submit a Comment

Powered by Google Translate