Freakonomics by Stevin Levitt and Stephen Dubner

As Levitt sees it, economics is a science with excellent tools for gaining answers but a serious shortage of interesting questions.  This book asks interesting questions.  If you want to know which teachers are cheating, which criminals are actually getting rich, and how the KKK is like a group of real estate agents, then Freakonomics is exactly the book you want to read.  Even if those particular questions haven’t been burning up your brain pan, the book is still a fun and interesting read, full of counter-intuitive ways of looking at the world around us.

Levitt’s blatant disregard for stereotypical economic applications (say that three times fast) allows for math and science to be used to measure something far more interesting:  people.  While the questions asked in the book are interesting (say, what do sumo wrestlers and schoolteachers have in common?) it is the answers that are absolutely fascinating.  Often the answers challenge our preconceptions and force us to really look at the world around us in ways that might be a little uncomfortable, but are almost certainly valuable.  Dubner’s writing style is smooth enough that the reader doesn’t feel like their face is being pulled off while they go through some of the data sets in the book (have no fear, there aren’t that many).  He also brings enough humor to the writing to offset any potentially “heavy” effects of certain questions that Levitt asks.

For anyone who enjoys the little idiosyncrasies that life puts out there, this book is a rare gem.  Standing standard procedure on its head, Levitt and Dubner deliver a humorous take on a wide variety of subjects, from the fairly mundane to the truly extraordinary.    I had a very hard time putting this one down, even when I had finished it, and I cannot wait to read the sequel:  Superfreakonomics.  With a title like that, you just know the book is going to be good.  If we’re all a little lucky, it’ll have some funny Rick James references, too.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.


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