What I am Reading This Week: Freakonomics

I started working through my pile of leadership books I began piling after reading the July 2010 Veterinary Economics article, 25 Books for your Summer Reading List.  I have restrained myself and only started three books.  The first one I finished was…



Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Five Stars!


Disclaimer:  The books I do not enjoy, I do not talk about, and the ones I do enjoy I rave about.  Who wants to hear about a book that was sort of ok??  No one!  So books get five stars or no mention.  This book gets five stars.

In case I am not the last person in America to read this book, I highly recommend it.  Things you would not expect to bother you will, and things you would expect to really, really bother you – so much that you may have avoided thinking much about them before now – will prove worth analyzing.

The first thing I noticed was the cover.  The names of the authors made me think of the scene in Benny and Joon where Joon gets Benny two goldfish whom she has named Steven and Stephen.  I DID like the cover as soon as I saw it (I assume because it reminded me of the Benny and Joon scene), so this is one book I actually bought instead of borrowing first to make sure I liked it.

My kids pointed out (after I had finished reading the book) the cool picture on the cover of an apple with orange innards (signifying I suppose that things are not always as they seem).  Maybe I should not judge a book by its cover, because I do not notice the things normal people notice.  But in this case, it turned out fine.

I expect much of this book to echo around in my head for a while.  The bonus material contains a very sad recounting from Steven D. Levitt’s own family life which will probably be the part of the book that stays with me permanently, even with all of the crazy, fun turn-what-you-thought-you-knew-on-its-head stories that make up the body of the book.

I will also remember the thirty second thing.  The authors point out in a subpoint to an argument mid-book that drowning can occur in thirty seconds.  When we were in Turks and Caicos for my brother’s wedding in 2007, my daughter went under water and lost consciousness.  My husband pulled her out, and she made a rapid and full recovery.  Those few seconds have changed us forever, and I read the second half of the book with a horrible stomach ache.  I did not know the thirty second thing.

The rest of the paradigm shifts, the ones the authors create on purpose, perhaps should have given me a stomach ache, but did not.  They were well-told, jarring in an entertaining way, and made me want to learn more about things I had not previously even given a second thought…sumo wrestling and real estate agent commissions among them.

I do not know whether or how this will make me a better veterinarian or leader, but maybe.  I still have some thinking to do.

Bunny Trails…Now I want to read SuperFreakonomics by the same authors and wander around their blog, Freakonomics, The Hidden Side of Everything, at the website of the New York Times.  I still have several leadership books to read, so I need to stay focused!  Next up…Blink by Malcolm Gladwell or The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell, whichever one I finish first!

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