Wednesday, June 2, 2010

May Book Reviews: "Freakonomics" & "I Thought My Father Was God"

*So I only finished two books this month. And they were both audiobooks. George W. Bush is totally kicking my butt.

My Rating System: OK*, Good**, Great***

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Rating: **
It's hard to describe what this book is about... even the authors admit there isn't really a "theme." But if I had to peg it down I'd say it's a book about why some things are the way they are. Like, if drug dealers make so much money, why do they all live at home with their moms? Or what caused the huge decline in crime over the last decade or so? This was a very interesting read with a lot of surprising facts and discoveries about the world we live in and our society. A good book for any of you who have an interest in psychology or sociology. I'm sure I'll end up reading the follow-up book "Super Freakonomics."

I Thought My Father Was God: And Other True Tales from NPR's National Story Project
by Paul Auster

This book actually turned out to be something totally different than what I thought it was. I didn't realize it was a compilation of stories from many people. I'd never heard of NPR's "National Story Project." Apparently Paul Auster started it and basically asked people to send him short, true stories. I'm not sure if they still do this on the radio, but this book was a collection of a few of the stories sent in over the years.

I really enjoyed this book. It was amazing to hear all these stories from all these people... some sad, some happy, some unbelievable. It was a perfect audiobook for my daily commute because of the short story format. It's something you can pick up and put down and not have to remember a long story line or what was going on. Highly recommended.


Paul said...

Ok, two things. First, the sentence "George W Bush is kicking my butt" is really funny. Second, the freakonomics guys annoy the snot out of me.

Ok, I lied, there's more. Heidi gave me a book recently that's pretty interesting. It's called Sleep Thieves and is all about sleep research. Good, especially if you have troubles sleeping. Did you know that babies dream before they're born?

Karen said...

Yeah, I can see how those guys would annoy you. They had a bit of an "I'm smarter than you" tone.

Also I had no idea babies dream before they're born... though I don't know that I've ever thought about it before! I don't usually have much trouble sleeping, but that book sounds interesting anyway. I'll have to check it out. :)

heidi said...

I love NPR's radio stories--like This American Life--so I bet I'd really enjoy the Paul Auster book! I'm so glad you mentioned it. (I also noticed that you're reading Dave Eggers' book. I know lots of people love it, but although I read the whole durn thing, it never made a lick of sense to me. Hopefully you have better luck with it than I did.)

I think Paul's annoyed by the Freakonomics guys because some of their conclusions are really ignorant and unscientific? That's why they've annoyed me. I read a review of the environmental ideas in their second book, and, if I'm recalling this correctly, they consist of Bright Ideas like bombarding the planet with counter-toxins and, creating a giant tube that would direct pollutants off our planet... That is, IF I'm remembering correctly. Some weeks, 91-year-old Grandpa Dave seems to have a better memory than me.

But, I'm curious--Paul, why DO the freakonomics guys annoy you? Or would it take too long to describe?

Back to K... Your W sentence IS funny. But I bet YOU're still ahead. Since you've graduated from the Dr.Seuss books W relies on to keep his book tally high. :D (I'm grinning to myself, because Paul made the SAME joke that you did--about W's reading material--when I first told him about your 2010 book-reading-goal post!)

Funny minds think alike.

Holly said...

I don't really care for short stories, but I think I might enjoy the NPR collection in an audiobook.