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Read This: Mind Bending Non-Fiction

One of the great things about reading non-fiction is that one book can change the way we look at the world. These readable titles offer different and compelling perspectives on what makes the world (and the people in it) behave as it does. Most are also available as audiobooks for those who enjoy listening to their non-fiction.


Kelly J. Says: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Amazon Says: Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parent more...
Amazon Says: Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime? These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much heralded scholar who studies the stuff and riddles of everyday life-;from cheating and crime to sports and child rearing-;and whose conclusions regularly turn the conventional wisdom on its head. He usually begins with a mountain of data and a simple, unasked question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: freakonomics. Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and co-author Stephen J. Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives-;how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they set out to explore the hidden side of ... well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Ku Klux Klan. What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a surfeit of obfuscation, complication, and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and-;if the right questions are asked-;is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking. Steven Levitt, through devilishly clever and clear-eyed thinking, shows how to see through all the clutter. Freakonomics establishes this unconventional premise: If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work. It is true that readers of this book will be armed with enough riddles and stories to last a thousand cocktail parties. But Freakonomics can provide more than that. It will literally redefine the way we view the modern world. less...
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Kelly J. Says: Outliers: The Story of Success
Amazon Says: Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question more...
Amazon Says: Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of "outliers"--the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different? less...
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Kelly J. Says: SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
Amazon Says: The New York Times best-selling Freakonomics was a worldwide sensation, selling over four million copies in thirty-five languages and changing the way we look at the world. No more...
Amazon Says: The New York Times best-selling Freakonomics was a worldwide sensation, selling over four million copies in thirty-five languages and changing the way we look at the world. Now, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner return with SuperFreakonomics, and fans and newcomers alike will find that the freakquel is even bolder, funnier, and more surprising than the first. Four years in the making, SuperFreakonomics asks not only the tough questions, but the unexpected ones: What's more dangerous, driving drunk or walking drunk? Why is chemotherapy prescribed so often if it's so ineffective? Can a sex change boost your salary? SuperFreakonomics challenges the way we think all over again, exploring the hidden side of everything with such questions as: How is a street prostitute like a department-store Santa? Why are doctors so bad at washing their hands? How much good do car seats do? What's the best way to catch a terrorist? Did TV cause a rise in crime? What do hurricanes, heart attacks, and highway deaths have in common? Are people hard-wired for altruism or selfishness? Can eating kangaroo save the planet? Which adds more value: a pimp or a Realtor? Levitt and Dubner mix smart thinking and great storytelling like no one else, whether investigating a solution to global warming or explaining why the price of oral sex has fallen so drastically. By examining how people respond to incentives, they show the world for what it really is – good, bad, ugly, and, in the final analysis, super freaky. Freakonomics has been imitated many times over – but only now, with SuperFreakonomics, has it met its match. less...
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Kelly J. Says: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Amazon Says: This celebrated New York Times bestseller -- now poised to reach an even wider audience in paperback -- is a book that is changing the way Americans think about selling produc more...
Amazon Says: This celebrated New York Times bestseller -- now poised to reach an even wider audience in paperback -- is a book that is changing the way Americans think about selling products and disseminating ideas. less...
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Kelly J. Says: The Wisdom of Crowds
Amazon Says: “No one in this world, so far as I know, has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.”  —H. L. Mencken   H. L. Menc more...
Amazon Says: “No one in this world, so far as I know, has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.”  —H. L. Mencken   H. L. Mencken was wrong. In this endlessly fascinating book, New Yorker columnist James Surowiecki explores a deceptively simple idea that has profound implications: large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant—better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future. This seemingly counterintuitive notion has endless and major ramifications for how businesses operate, how knowledge is advanced, how economies are (or should be) organized and how we live our daily lives. With seemingly boundless erudition and in delightfully clear prose, Surowiecki ranges across fields as diverse as popular culture, psychology, ant biology, economic behaviorism, artificial intelligence, military history and political theory to show just how this principle operates in the real world.  Despite the sophistication of his arguments, Surowiecki presents them in a wonderfully entertaining manner. The examples he uses are all down-to-earth, surprising, and fun to ponder. Why is the line in which you’re standing always the longest? Why is it that you can buy a screw anywhere in the world and it will fit a bolt bought ten-thousand miles away? Why is network television so awful? If you had to meet someone in Paris on a specific day but had no way of contacting them, when and where would you meet? Why are there traffic jams? What’s the best way to win money on a game show? Why, when you walk into a convenience store at 2:00 A.M. to buy a quart of orange juice, is it there waiting for you? What do Hollywood mafia movies have to teach us about why corporations exist? The Wisdom of Crowds is a brilliant but accessible biography of an idea, one with important lessons for how we live our lives, select our leaders, conduct our business, and think about our world. less...
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