Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Spring Break Reading

I hit a critical point on the vacation curve and last week took off to Mexico with my family for a respite. This one was a real break – no phone, no e-mail, no business contact of any kind. Along with relaxing on the beach and building sand castles with my daughter (mostly for the purpose of knocking them down right away), I was able to get quite a bit of reading time in. With that in mind I wanted to pass along two of these titles in case you’re looking to add to your reading list. The first is Jeffrey Sachs’ The End of Poverty. Sachs is an economist who has advised a number of developing nations on macroeconomic policy. He’s now the director of theEarth Institute at Columbia and a special advisor to the UN (advising on the UN’s Millennium Project). The book is extremely accessible – written for non-academics. For me, it challenged some of the notions I hold of Africa as a ‘lost continent’ and laid out Sachs’ version of how to Africa may be lifted out of poverty. I love macroeconomics (my college major) and in particular issues related to the relationships between economies. This book is very interesting reading. One word of warning – the last 1/5th of the book is essentially an advertisement for Sachs’ version of how to achieve the Millennium Development goals and got a bit tedious. The first 80% of the book was outstanding. The other recommendation is Captain Joshua Slocum’s Sailing Alone around the World. The book is, as you might guess, about Slocum’s journey around the world. He was the first to accomplish this feat solo – leaving Boston in 1895 in a 30’ wooden sloop and returning to Rhode Island more than 3 years later in mid-1898. The book is great – starting with the title (you can imagine that if this book was titled today it would be called “A historic voyage” or “Voyage of a lifetime” or something cheesy like that). Slocom’s style of prose is also reflected in the title – he’s to the point and comically matter-of-fact.

Enjoy!

March 28th, 2006     Categories: Books    

One more reason to like Freakonomics

I forgot to mention this in my post on Freakonomics a couple of day ago. Hold on while I climb onto my soap box [clump] [clump]

As if I needed another reason to really like this book, I was happy to note that the authors – Steven Levitt and Steven Dubner – correctly use the word data (as a plural, rather than singular noun). It’s used all over the book and their correct use of the word truly enhanced my reading enjoyment.

Now I just need to figure out how to get down off this damn box without falling . . .

May 1st, 2005     Categories: Books    

Freakonomics

I picked up a copy of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the  Hidden Side of Everything last night before jumping on a plane.  I pretty much devoured it on my flight. While I don’t often write here about books (in fact this may be my first entry on the subject), if you liked Blink or The Tipping Point or are just curious about how the world works, I’d strongly suggest you check this one out. The basic idea of Freakonomics is to use statistical analysis to explore relationships and answer some pretty interestin  questions about our world (are swimming pools more dangerous than guns; why do drug dealers live with their mothers; how can we tell if sumo wrestlers cheat; etc).  I eat this stuff up (for me its in part the mix of my two college majors – economics and psychology).  And, while you may not find every topic explored in the book riveting, I think the broader premise is an important one – by thinking about problems a little differently one can come up with interesting ways of testing theories that would otherwise seem untestable.  Perhaps by turning problems slightly askew you can gain a perspective into something that you didn’t think was possible.

April 29th, 2005     Categories: Books