K's Reviews > SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt
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's review
Jun 21, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: audiobooks, readablenonfiction
Recommended for: Huge fans of the first "Freakonomics" and/or of Malcolm Gladwell, maybe

A reluctant 3 stars. I'll give this book the benefit of the doubt and say that it probably would have worked better for me had I read it rather than listening to it. While I love the fact that audiobooks allow me to multi-task, it means that I'm less focused when I'm listening to them. That's fine if it's a book like Savannah Blues but this book demanded more concentration, especially since the writing style was highly tangential to begin with.

Those who read “Freakonomics” are familiar with what the authors offer: a conglomerate of light, entertaining facts which offer new ways of looking at things, generally falling under the umbrella of studying the way people respond to incentives, a.k.a. behavioral economics. “Freakonomics” was probably the first book of its kind that I read and I enjoyed it thoroughly; I have since discovered Malcolm Gladwell and no longer find this genre particularly novel although that doesn't diminish my enjoyment.

In fact, there were some interesting and entertaining tidbits here -- the career path of a successful self-employed call girl, the truth behind the "38 bystanders" of Kitty Genovese's murder (a fundamental topic when I studied social psychology – who knew that the facts were misreported?), experiments with teaching monkeys to value currency, etc. Unfortunately some of the other topics bored me, particularly when the authors focused less on behavior and more on science (e.g., global warming and global cooling). The authors often lost me in part because of my own distractibility while listening, but I found that it was hard to come back once I did lose focus.

I highly recommend the first Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything book. Though there's room to quibble with a lot of the authors' claims, it's provocative and entertaining reading. There were moments where this one lived up to the standard set by the first, but overall I can't recommend it with the same enthusiasm.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Rachayl (new)

Rachayl I read the first "Freakonomics" and really liked it too... enough that this one would be on my to-read list (such as it is) despite lukewarm review. I don't think I could manage either on audio anyway. Interesting review though. Who's Malcolm Gladwell? (More fun to ask than to Google it...)

message 2: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K If you liked the first "Freakonomics," you'll probably like this one too, just maybe not as much.

I really like Malcolm Gladwell -- he's a journalist for the "New Yorker" who's written several books on various social phenomena. He's very readable and entertaining, and although you can criticize some of his overarching theses, his books are lots of fun to read. My favorite was Blink, but I also really liked The Tipping Point and Outliers (incidentally, these titles can link you to their goodreads pages if you want to check them out). I own a copy of "Outliers" and will lend it to you if you like.

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