Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book Review: Freakonomics

Freakonomics is a book I, quite frankly, never thought I would read. It's not really my thing. Data, statistics, history, economics? *shudder* I've never been able to follow it all. In fact, it usually just confuses me more and makes me feel kind of dumb as a result.

But for the first time, I understood the previously unfathomable.
Co-authors Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt explain their findings with ease, putting their theories and results into layman's terms without talking down to the reader (one of my big issues with a good deal of non-fiction). They also use smart, dry humor to keep you entertained while simultaneously making you really think, at times even offering up the data and letting you see if you can find the correlation on your own before they explain it to you. I'll admit I couldn't figure them out myself, though it was nice that they let me try!
Furthermore, the topics Dubner and Levitt tackle are unique and relatable (well, except for the whole sumo wrestling thing...). I did, however, feel at times like they were beating a dead horse. The chapters were lengthy and the duo would still be arguing their stance and presenting data long after their point was made. As a result, my interest waned a bit about two-thirds through every chapter.
I also would've liked a little more variety in terms of the subjectmatter, but the bonus material in the backmatter whetted that appetite quite well. After an article summarizing everything that I had just read, that is. It was a little overkill in that respect. However, if I really want a wider array of topics, I can always check out the "Freakonomics" blog on the New York Times website or snag a copy of Superfreakonomics, the follow-up to their first revolutionary bestseller.

The Last Word: If you haven't read Freakonomics yet, I'd highly recommend it, even if you avoid non-fiction like the plague. It's interesting brain food.

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