The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande


I think it’s appropriate that I do this review in bullet-points, which are KIND of like a checklist… of things… that I have to say… (I’m reaching here, I know, just let me have it).

  • My first Atul Gawande book – he’s been receiving a lot of praise lately for Being Mortal, which I have on audio and still need to dive into.
  • I am fully aware that our minds and memories are not infallible – and yet, this was still very fascinating. We put so much emphasis on experience and knowledge, butΒ often a tiny, seemingly insignificant thing can be missed and have a huge impact.
  • I particularly nerded out when I learned that we basically won WW2 because of the invention of the flight checklist. (I’m paraphrasing, of course.)
  • Gawande takes a look at checklists in several different businesses – construction, aviation, and medicine – to see what effect they have on success, and the reduction of mistakes.
  • I am seriously considering trying to find out which of my local hospitals (if any) use a standardized checklist in their operating rooms and making it clear to everyone I know that I only want to be brought to one that uses a checklist.
  • Less than 200 pages, which I appreciated. Immensely readable.
  • I like that he scolds surgeons and doctors a bit for resisting the use of the checklist, because they feel that they’ve been doing their job long enough that they don’t need one. They are the most likely to need one.
  • I spent most of this book wondering how I could implement checklists more in my own life. I basically do, I make a whole bunch of “to-do” lists, but it’s sticking to them that’s the problem…
  • I do use a checklist for one of my job functions, and it’s SUPER helpful. I love adding to it and seeing what I can remove and just generally trying to make it better.
  • Makes me feel all motivated to be efficient and find room for improvement.

Aaand that’s all I got! The Checklist ManifestoΒ was an interesting read about a pretty common concept, that for some reason we rarely actually put to good use.

Sarah Says: 3.5 stars



  1. I think Atul Gawande is very engaging and I like his simple, direct approach to writing. I’ve read bits of this one but in its entirety, though I recommend Being Mortal and Complications if you want to move on to one of his other books.


    1. I have Being Mortal on audio, which hopefully I’ll get to eventually. I’m listening (and reading) Marvel Comics: The Untold Story right now which is like a billion pages long, and Missoula is available on audio through Scribd and I want to listen to that next. Luckily I own the Being Mortal audiobook, so no huge rush except I want to read it! I basically just want all the books in my brain now please.


    1. I make SO many checklists, really. Errands to run, bills to pay, groceries, blog to-do list, etc… Maybe instead of kind of making them up as I go along I could create certain templates to use to be more efficient. Hmm.


  2. Good to hear you got a lot out of this book. I am on the waiting list for it with my library’s ebook service. Even reading the premise of this book encouraged me to make a quasi-checklist to give to my team for some of the everyday work that they do. But like you mention in your review, people can be resistant to them because they think using one implies that they don’t know what they’re doing.


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