60 Second Review:
Discover Your Inner Economist

In Review — By on October 10, 2007 at 1:21 am

inner_economist.jpgThe Book: Discover Your Inner Economist: Use Incentives to Fall in Love, Survive Your Next Meeting, and Motivate Your Dentist by Tyler Cowen
:10 — The Gist: In this breezy, brief, and charming tome, Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics at George Mason University, shows how using economic principles such as markets, incentives, and signals can hone our skills of pattern recognition and help us make the best decisions possible.
:20 — The Quote: “When should we finish a book we have started? In this regard I am extreme. If I start ten books maybe I will finish one of them. I feel no compunction to keep reading. Why not be brutal about this? Is this the best possible book I can be reading right now, of all the books in the world? For me at least, the answer is usually (but not always) no. Whatever is that best possible book to be reading, I am willing to buy it or otherwise track it down. Most books don’t make the cut.” (p. 73)
:30 — The Good: Cowen incorporates into the book the best elements of his blog, Marginal Revolution (the absolute best economics blog on the web).
:40 — The Not-So Good: The rambling narrative style sometimes obscures the economic point.
:50 — The Verdict: This book changed my life, albeit in minor ways. I stopped forcing myself to trudge through Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (and stopped watching the movies after the first excruciatingly dull half hour). At restaurants I started ordering appetizers and skipping desserts. I even changed to this ’60 second’ book review format after reading this book (reviews help people make a simple decision about whether they want to read a book, a task that should take no more than a minute). Inner Economist joins the glut of other pop-economics that were inspired by the surprising success of Freakanomics. But whereas Freakanomics showed that Stephen Levitt is a clever economist, Cowen shows how economics can make us all more clever.
:60 — The Recommendation: For people who want to think more clearly, and those who still think economics is all about finding the equilibrium point on a supply and demand curve.