I have just spent an exciting week in Thailand giving trend seminars in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Getting there begins with a 12 hour flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo, then a flight of about 6 hours to Bangkok. There is always a certain level of excitement on the way there. On the way back it just feels way too long. On the bright side, I have lots of time for reading.
After I finished a great fiction, The Secret Life of Bees, I went straight for a non-fiction book I had just bought at Costco, my new favorite place to shop for everything from groceries to eyeglasses (opening a new warehouse in Eden Prairie, MN less than a year ago was life-changing for me).
Freakonomics: A Rougue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything is written by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Levitt is an unconventional 26-year old economist whose approach to his field makes economics look both fascinating and fun. This man analyzes data to find the answers to questions that others have not thought to ask of it. The results are surprising and eye opening. Dubner is the New York Times Magazine journalist who makes Levitt¹s connections and conclusions read like a great story.
What is interesting about Levitt¹s research is that, without making any moral judgments, he talks cause-and-effect about highly charged issues like the black/white education gap and abortion in a way that forces new thinking. I¹m sure he also riles lots of people on both the left and the right. Other topics, like cheating teachers and real estate agents that work toward their financial incentives rather than your best interests, feel less controversial but still represent out-of-the-box thinking. All of Freakonomics¹ conclusions seem destined to fuel a national dialogue.
Prior to picking up Freakonomics, I would never have listed an economics book as light reading, but this one will change anyone¹s mind. I highly recommend this book.