There are books that inspire you, books that make you think, and books that are entertaining.  Freakonomics is definitely entertaining, and it makes you pause and think about why certain things happen – whether you buy into the theories/correlations that are presented in the book or not.  After reading The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan (our last book read in our book club), it was refreshing to read another fast read.  Very similar to the style of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, it’s a book of good anecdotal story telling of questions and observation on people, incentives, correlations, and causes and effects.  Some correlations are shocking and plausible, such as the correlation between dropping crime rates in the 1990’s and the legalization of abortion in the 1970’s.  Other comparisons are, at least for me, harder to accept – such as comparing cheating done by sumo wrestlers and teachers (for instance,  why is putting less than 100% effort in a sport considered cheating – why is it not considered strategy?  Saving energy for the more important games?  Soccer teams put their less valuable players out on the field during less important games for strategic purposes all the time – that isn’t considered cheating.  Isn’t that comparable?).  But whether you buy into the examples or not, they all stimulate a reader’s curiosity and are examples of good story telling.   Do I recommend the book? Yes!  Will you learn more about economics from it? No – but you will get a lesson on human incentives.

The book was co-authored by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Levitt is an award winning economist, professor and one of the “100 People Who Shape Our World” according to Time Magazine in 2006.  Dubner is a journalist and award winning author; having written four books including one children’s book, The Boy with Two Belly Buttons.  Together this pair has created a vastly popular pop-economics book and they are coming out with the sequel, SuperFreakonomics, in 09/10/2009.   Can’t wait to read that as well!

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