Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Reviews.

A few of the books I've read recently:

Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.

This book reminded me out Outliers, although I didn't love it quite as much. Lots of interesting stats and stuff, with an econ twist. Why do real estate agents sell their own homes for significantly more than their clients' homes? How corrupt is the professional sumo wrestling industry in Japan (because it is, you know)? Does the negligible number of lives saved by car seats each year warrant the millions of dollars pumped into the baby car seat industry? What's in a name--how do parents in different socio-economic groups differ in their baby naming tendencies? Hmmmm?

Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self, by Lori Gottlieb.

I really enjoyed this book. The author found her actual diary documenting her anorexic, eleven-year-old self, and published it. I loved the voice--it was authentically pre-teen, yet astonishingly observant and intelligent. The story, from the girl's vantage point, wasn't a battle with anorexia--it was a battle with her family for her freedom to control her own weight through dieting. Kinda scary. But the tone is light and humorous, sort of like a real-life Ramona the Pest.

Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell.

Another great one by Malcolm G. The book is about the human mind's ability to "thin-slice" situations--take in various bits of information about a situation in just a few seconds, much of it sub-consciously, and make a decision. Lots of people have mastered the art of this practice: for example, Vic Braden is a pro tennis coach who can predict with stunning accuracy when a player is going to double fault. Something about the way the serve is executed tips him off--but the crazy thing is, he can't identify precisely what about the serve tells him it will be a fault. John Gottman, a marriage researcher (who I actually heard speak at the AAMFT Conference last September!!) can predict with like, 95% accuracy whether a couple is going to divorce, just by listening to them interact for a few minutes. There are also examples of times when people jumped to very wrong conclusions in split-second decisions, either by over-analyzing and sort of dismissing misgivings they had, or by losing the ability to reason well in a high-adrenaline situations. I really liked this one.

I started reading Eat, Pray, Love yesterday but I don't know if I can stand it. I might give it another chance, though. Any other suggestions?

1 comment:

  1. Oh my heavens, you and Charlie are on the same page when it comes to reading. He was just asking for ideas also. Looks like some good selections though.


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