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7 Books like Freakonomics : Digestible Pop-Economics

Andrew Wilmot itcher‘Freakonomics’ melded pop culture with economics, becoming a literary sensation and opening the way for similar entertaining yet informative books on economics and sociology. If you want some more books like ‘Freakonomics’, you should pick yourself up ‘SuperFreakonomics’, ‘The Economic’, ‘Naturalist’, ‘Poop Culture’, ‘The Undercover Economist’, and ‘Reefer Madness’. ~ Andrew Wilmot

With Popularity Comes Controversy

“If you learn how to look at data in the right way, you can explain riddles that otherwise might have seemed impossible…” – Freakonomics

‘Freakonomics’ is a collection of articles in which economic theory is applied to a diverse set of subjects not normally covered by economists, be it from how legalized abortion reduces crime, to the socioeconomic patterns of naming children. With its popularity comes controversy, but that didn’t stop a film adaption of this pop-econ book being made!

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Books Similar to ‘Freakonomics’…

‘SuperFreakonomics’ (Steven D Levitt, Stephen J Dubner 2009)

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“Most of us want to fix or change the world in some fashion. But to change the world, you first have to understand it…” – Steven D Levitt, SuperFreakonomics

The sequel to ‘Freakonomics’, ‘SuperFreakonomics’ tackles unintended consequences and simple fixes, prostitution and pimps in South Chicago, various patterns and details, and altruism. Again it draws criticism and controversy, particularly for its global warming section that suggests that the climate can be regulated by what’s called a ‘Stratoshield’.

Similarity Match: 95%
Same authors, same concept, same style. If you want a book like ‘Freakonomics’, the sequel is a good place to start, providing more of the same.

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‘The Economic Naturalist’ (Robert H Frank, 2008)

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“In short both the things we feel we need and the things available for us to buy depend largely—beyond some point, almost entirely—on the things that others choose to buy…” – Robert H Frank

Another book that, like ‘Freakonomics’, tries to reveal the economics behind everyday events, taking a basic economic principle and then explaining it via real world examples, such as why there is a light in the fridge and not the freezer, why drink cans are cylindrical but milk cartons are square, and why 24-hour shops bother with having locks on their doors.

Similarity Match: 85%
Predating ‘Freakonomics’, ‘The Economic Naturalist’ takes a similar approach to ‘Freakonomics’, explaining the causes behind often misunderstood trends. Unlike ‘Freakonomics’ though, it takes an economic principle and then uses every day examples to explain it rather than the other way round.

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‘Poop Culture: How America is Shaped by Its Grossest National Product’ (Dave Praeger, 2007)

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“All people poop–so shouldn’t we view pooping as neutral, a shared human experience, unremarkable because universal?”

A bizarre blend of the scatological and the sociological, ‘Poop Culture’ delves into the politics of, societal attitude to, and the impacts of faeces on our day to day lives. Detailing everything from the history of toilet paper to how the media reacts to news reports of poop, Dave Praeger effortlessly turns the subject of much juvenile humor into something that the reader can truly think critically about – not an unimpressive feat!

Similarity Match: 70%
Taking an everyday occurrence that we even know we had questions about, and answering those very questions, is something ‘Poop Culture’ and ‘Freakonomics’ share, although ‘Poop Culture’ deals a lot more with the sociology of poop rather than the economics.

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‘The Undercover Economist’ (Tim Harford, 2005)

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“There is much more to life than what gets measured in accounts. Even economists know that…” – Tim Harford

In a manner similar to the ‘Economic Naturalist’, ‘The Undercover Economist’ provides an introduction to the principles of economics such as supply and demand, market failures, and globalisation in non technical terms. Freakonomics’ author Steven Levitt describes it as “a rare specimen: a book on economics that will enthral…it brings the power of economics to life.”

Similarity Match: 80%
Counting Steven Livitt himself a fan, it’s easy to see how ‘The Undercover Economist’ has been an influence on books like ‘Freakonomics’, making economic principles easy to digest, but with less of a sociological bent than ‘Freakonomics’.

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‘Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market’ (Eric Schlosser, 2003)

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“Public outcry usually masks a private obsession…” – Eric Schlosser, Reefer Madness

In this book Eric Schlosser takes a look at the underground economy of the United States, which he estimates to be 10% of American GDP. In particular, he looks at Cannabis, Migrant Labor, and Pornography.

Similarity Match: 60%
Dealing with controversial issues, ‘Reefer Madness’ makes it on this list due to tackling topics that other books on economics don’t, although it assumes a base level of understand of economics, making it a little less accessible than other entries on this list.

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If You Like ‘Freakonomics’, You Will Like…

Think ‘Freakonomics’ isn’t academically rigorous enough? These books like ‘Freakonomics’ are a little less accessible than most pop-economics books, but are still a great read.

“The conventional wisdom is often wrong…”

‘The Logic of Life’ (Tim Harford, 2008)

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More from the author of ‘The Undercover Economist’, ‘The Logic of Life’ sets out to draw rational elements and explanations of apparently illogical behaviours.

 

 

 

Unlike ‘Freakonomics’, ‘The Undercover Economist’ assumes a bit more background knowledge on behalf of the reader, but otherwise has a very similar style.

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‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’ (Thomas Piketty, 2013)

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Description : In ‘Capital’, Thomas Piketty suggests explanations and solutions for the growing inequality across the world, becoming a New York Times Best Seller, and has become the greatest success ever of Harvard University Press.

 

 

A far more difficult read than most pop-econ books, this unlikely success story has still managed to bring complex economic problems into the limelight.

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There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Education

Not quite feeling educated enough yet? Check out ‘Think Like a Freak’ for some more from the same authors, or ‘Mobs Messiahs’ and ‘Markets’ to get some sociological insights into mass behaviour.

If you want to move away from economics and sociology, take a romp with Bill Bryson through a ‘Short History of Nearly Everything’, or ‘Sapiens: A brief History of Humankind’.

Think we need a bit of education?

Let us know what you recommend in the comments below.

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