A single book at the right time can change our views dramatically, give a quantum boost to our knowledge, help us construct a whole new outlook on the world and our life. Isn’t it odd that we don’t seek those experiences more systematically?
Steve Leveen, The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life (2005), p. 11
I have decided to blog. Like any economist, who sees the world through economic lenses, I need to consider the opportunity costs. The decision to write about one thing means I cannot use the time to write about another. So I have to be picky. Furthermore, there are lots of great blogs out there and I don’t see the point of repeating their content. I therefore need to specialize in something not generally done elsewhere in order to make a difference which of course leads us to the issue of “comparative advantage” (a concept you can read more about in our wonderful book!). So what is the ‘right’ thing for me to specialize in? To write about?
It took a bit of thinking but I have come to a decision–one I hope proves helpful to you. I thought I would, on a fairly regular basis, review other people’s writing about economics and business. I will focus mostly on books, but from time to time, might focus on other blogs, interesting articles and informative documentaries. (Oh, by the way, Rick will write as for this as well so look for his byline.)
The Three E’s
In the highest civilization, the book is still the highest delight. He who has once known its satisfactions is provided with a resource against calamity.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Letters and Social Aims: Quotation and Originality (1876)
I will generally be aiming these reviews at students who have much of their life ahead of them and probably could benefit from someone helping them weed out the chaff from the wheat but hopefully anyone who wants to be a “student” of business and economic ideas will find what I do here useful and informative as well. It is my hope that good reading will lead to a well-lived life. Therefore, this blog will try and be a repository of commentary on writing which is generally considered entertaining, educational and economic in nature.
In this context, I define ‘Economic’ loosely in terms of ideas related to decision making and market systems. Thus management, psychology, politics and business books and articles are all fair game. When the economics isn’t explicit in the piece, I will endeavor to add a commentary from the economist’s perspective.
‘Educational’ means I will generally limit the type of books and articles to non-fiction. (This is not to say that fiction can’t educate.) ‘Entertaining’ is the most difficult to define as it is subject to the tastes and preferences of the individual. There are many who would never think that a non-fiction book could be remotely interesting—let alone one about economics. I beg to differ. It is my genre of choice. However, within this genre there exists a wide variety of choice. I will limit my reviews to books I think the average first year university or college student would enjoy. In other words, I won’t be reviewing many of the classics like Das Kapital any time soon. Most of the trade books I review have already made it to one best seller list or another which means the public has voted with their pocket books as to whether it is a good book or not. (Das Kapital may be a best seller but I don’t think that means the current owners have read the entire book. It can only be described as a very hard slog! Sometimes people buy a book because they have to for a course or because they think it is good for them.)
I will try and make every book I review in this blog one that can be read in less than a week. The format of our blog will be similar to our book—it will have quotes, napkin notes and from time to time a gossip column. Please contact us with any suggestions and feel free to comment—both to agree or disagree with the reviews.
Happy reading and talk about us at cocktail parties!