Freakonomics – Book Review

Here is a non-fiction review by Central’s Library Live volunteer Michael Lee:
Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
“Prepare to be dazzled” – Malcolm Gladwell
         This non-fiction book is a New York Times bestseller, and is renowned for giving readers a new perspective of the world they live in. Steven Levitt is an economist who has written numerous books on economics. Stephen J. Dubner is a journalist that has written many books as well. With two brilliant minds together, they have written a deep and insightful book about the world we think we know all about…
         Diving straight into the novel, the authors establish that people with widely different occupations, background and gender can have many things in common. Using statistics, they can analyze the data to compare and to examine the similarities and differences the data shows. In these six chapters, you will find this book filled with a firm opinion backed with precise statistics and analysis, which will help you see the world of economics differently.
         At first, when reading this book, they would create a claim, that you may or may not believe in. I for one thought that they were absurd in the beginning, creating remarks that said outside on the street, would turn heads in confusion. But slowly as you go deeper into the chapter, they slowly build up evidence. Making comparisons, explaining their characteristics and why they are similar. They then explain the economic concepts that apply to their claim, clarifying their argument. By the end of the chapter, you will not only agree with them, but will also understand how the world we live in is much more close than we thought.
         This book tends to make readers’ heads spin in confusion, which is completely normal. This book forces you to ask yourself questions that you never would have asked before. It makes you think hard about the world we live in, and how society works. It makes you think about your own life, and how it is affected by all the people around you, After reading this book, you will have a deeper understanding of how our society works, as not all aspects of the economy are perfect.
         The chapter titles are comparisons and questions the reader can think about and answer themselves. A great aspect of the novel is how the reader forces you to think about the situation, before they explain what they found in their evidence. For example, the title of chapter 4 is “Where have all the criminals gone?”. You would think a booming economy and a strengthened police force would be the cause. It makes you think and search through your prior memories for answers. Actually, abortion is the cause of a lower crime rate. At first I was baffled, and thought, “Abortion? No way.”. The authors make you doubt their claim. But they slowly go into the data and evidence that they have collected, explaining their claim, and proving your thoughts wrong. The authors have done a phenomenal job of then explaining the economic concepts, and revelling about how important data and information is.
The perspective of the book is of the authors. The book frequently asks questions to the readers, making them question themselves and in the world they live in. It uses phases like “imagine that …” or “imagine for a moment…” that really help you visualize what the authors explaining in your mind. The story is written in a smooth flow that helps readers envision the scenario the author is explaining, giving readers a better understanding of the novel.
What I like about the book is just how much evidence the authors provide the readers. You can clearly tell that the authors have spent much time and depth in the novel, as all evidence is valid and legitimate. Also something the authors have done that I love is how the authors have added economic terms that educate the reader while their reading. This not only helps the reader understand what the authors are talking about in the book, it also helps teach the readers new concepts that they can use in school or in their daily lives.
         Another great aspect about the book is how it makes you think about your life, and how you can change your lifestyle to make it more smooth. For example, the author askes the question “What makes a good parent?” as the title in chapter 5. Thus if you’re a student, you will right away think about your own mother and father, and think of their positive and negative aspects. Are they supportive? Are they strict? Do you spend enough quality time together? Or if you’re a parent, you’ll also reflect on your life decisions. Does my child have an appropriate learning environment? Has my job affected our family time? The book is constantly making you ask yourself questions, and makes you think about how you can change yourself and your family.
         The author does every chapter, have a claim and backs it up with evidence. Something that I wish the author would have added more was maybe adding more of the authors personal opinion in the story, and not just using evidence, but a well written book all around.
          This book is recommended for high school students and over, as the level of literature, vocabulary and concepts are quite advanced. Middle schoolers should feel free to read, but can often be confused. This book is perfect for people who enjoy and want to learn about the economy and about the society. The reader must be patient and eager to learn, as this book is not to be read for entertainment, but for the purpose of being educated. If you hate sitting for hours reading about economics and would rather jump into a fantasy adventure, than this book is certainly not for you.
         I found this book to be very insightful, and a book that can be read over and over again. You can recommend this book to your peers or even your teacher, as this book is a great read. A book that I learned much from, and will never forget.
Rating: 9.5/10
Interested? Place a hold on a copy here.

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