The Nonfiction Section

This week, my Stat professor assigned a couple chapters from Freakonomics as a course reading. I saw that yesterday, thought, “Hey, I’ve been meaning to read that anyway,” and instead of just printing off the selections from the course website, I went to Borders and bought the book. And between 5 pm yesterday and 6 pm today, I read it.

All of it.

Now, keeping in mind that I had a social engagement last night, a gym visit and a three hour class this morning, and other readings to do this afternoon, the fact that I finished this book in under 25 hours seems like quite an endorsement. And well it should be. I haven’t enjoyed a nonfiction book this much since John Battelle’s The Search, and even that, not quite as much.

Leaving aside the book’s arguments, which are hard to judge without a more detailed idea of where their evidence comes from (I haven’t read the footnotes…yet…), here are a few things I liked about the book:

  1. Levitt and Dubner, they can really write. It’s engaging like a magazine article. Which makes sense, I guess, considering that one of them writes for a magazine.
  2. I admit, I like the Econ and the Stat. I am a nerd. This is no secret. But I like the idea that the world could somehow be comprehensible through numbers, however much I may doubt that such simplicity actually exists.
  3. Building on the previous point, in terms of entertainment value, I like how the book poses these huge complex problems, and then answers each one within 20-30 pages. It’s addictive, like the construction of chapter-ends in Harry Potter.
  4. About 90% of the examples given are from Chicago, probably at least in part because Levitt’s a professor at my alma mater. So that just made me feel kind of at home.

I wonder if it’s a negative indicator on my personality that a popular economics book gave me a warm and cozy feeling I didn’t want to let go…


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