Monday, December 19, 2005

Best and Worst of 2005: Installment Two

I wanted to do movies next, but I am probably going to see one or two more before the year is out, so I'll put a pin in that one. Instead, let's try books. These aren't going to be limited to books that were published this year, but rather to books I read this year. I can't be bothered to buy things right when they come out, so this is the way it has to be.

The Best:
1) Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner. Although I find his conclusions controversial, Levitt brings a fresh outlook to a number of social issues, from the mundane (cheating in Sumo competitions) to the important (effects of government initiatives on crime rates). This is what micro thinking is all about. I only hope I can bring such creativity to the profession.

2) Books by and about Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries by Carrie Bebris, The Jane Austen Mysteries by Stephanie Barron). I whiled away a lot of free time reading Jane Austen themed mysteries this year. Plus I reread part of Pride and Prejudice, my favorite Austen novel. These books were all enjoyable, and a couple were excellent. Plus, they brought back memories of my misspent adolescence.

3) Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley. McKinley is known for writing heartfelt retellings of fairytales, and this is her second take on Beauty and the Beast (the first one was Beauty). This version is a bit more mature (it has less of a "perfect" ending), but equally affecting. I highly recommend both books.

4) Mathematics for Economists by Carl P. Simon, Lawrence Blume. Yes, I am going to put a textbook on this list. Not only because it has saved my skin on more than one occasion, but also because I have actually read it COVER TO COVER. And it wasn't even assigned to me. For any of you planning to pursue a PhD in economics, I heartily recommend this one. Unless you know static optimization (there are no dynamics here, sadly) and differential equations stone cold, it's a worthy refresher. It boils years of math classes into the USEFUL stuff.

The Worst:
All the books I meant to read, but never got around to. I'm not blaming the books, but rather my nutso life.

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