Friday, October 24, 2014

Book Review: Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Title: Think Like a Freak
Author: Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Source: Audible
Content Alert: Nothing I remember

One of the first audiobooks I ever listened to was the original Freakonomics. I remember painting Annie's bedroom right after we moved to Texas while I listened to Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner expound on everything from the relationship between abortion and the drop in violent crime twenty years later to what your child's name says about them. Mind you, this was more than ten years ago, and I still remember crouching on the floor, smelling the paint, and hearing those voices. I was hooked.

It's been more than a decade and I've listened to hundreds of audiobooks in the intervening years, but when I learned that the Freakonomics guys had a new book out, I put it in my Audible cart right away. Now, the concept isn't that new. Guys like Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer (before the plagiarism thing) and dozens of others have written about how looking at things in new ways yields surprising results. The book isn't revolutionary-- it's basically more of the same entertaining mythbusting two have been at for years, but it's geared slightly differently-- how you, personally, can retrain your brain to do what they're doing (look at the same old problems in new ways). But really, that concept serves as a scaffolding for them to tell entertaining stories. Apparently, the book is basically a "best of" their podcast, so if you're a dedicated podcast listener, I wouldn't recommend buying the book (as the hordes of angry Audible reviews attest), but I thought it was an enjoyable way to pass a few of the torturous post-marathon treadmill hours I endured after St. George this year.

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