SuperFreakonomics by Steven D Levitt & Stephen J Dubner
A sequel to a highly successful book comes with the assurance of sales and burden of expectations. The formula has worked in the past. So it must be maintained and may be sharpened a bit. Conversational language and the quirky examples are what readers liked, so continue with the same language. And look out for more examples of quirky things around. Look for odd combinations and see what is common in them and what will leave a reader surprised. This is common between Freakonomics, SuperFreakonomics and Malcolm Gladwell’s books. In fact, they sometimes refer to the same research for their books like the age bias in football players.
After you have finished reading these books, you wonder if you are any wiser. That too if you are not living in America. As these books seem to be written exclusively with the American audience in mind. I wonder how they manage to sell in almost all major geographies of the world. Or is it the obsession that rest of the world has for America that works in their favor.
All said and then, I think the biggest factor in these books is ‘Entertainment’. They are written in such an entertaining manner that even if you do not understand the head and tail of what they are trying to tell you, you enjoy reading those strange connections, those funny anecdotes, those little nuggets of the history. And those attempts to break the popular myths of our times. For example, this book has an anecdote on the menace of horse shit in New York that led to cleaner solutions. Just like today’s automobiles that we think today are a menace because of the pollution that they contribute to.
And while the whole world is trying to tell us to live a greener life, these guys turn around and say – Hey, you know the whole human activity contributes next to nothing to global warming. So chill and continue doing what you want. They go ahead and give examples of a natural phenomenon that can take care of all the mishandling that we do with earth and its environment. They talk about crazy companies that come out with simple and hence cheap solutions for big problems of the world. And you wonder if they are so good and have such childlike solutions. Why are they not mainstream yet.
20% of this book is a Q&A with authors. And the chat transcript of their radio podcast. Some questions were interesting while others were predictable. But I see that they are starting a trend of this Q&A at the end of the book as I see some authors doing that – some even for their very first book.
If you have enjoyed reading their earlier book, you can think of this book SuperFreakonomics as a continuation of that book. If not, you can try reading it and see if you like it. They do not belong to any established genre and are a genre in themselves. They call it economics but if this is what economists do, I need to brush up my fundamentals on economics.
One thing that this books sure offers is – sheer entertainment.