My rating: 3 of 5 stars
‘Think Like a Freak’ is a book you would quite naturally pick up if you have already read the brilliant Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything and the not as brilliant SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. However, one would do well to note that the earlier two books were written by both Levitt and Dubner (only of whom is a qualified economist teaching at a University), this one is written by Levitt, the writer.
One cannot be blamed for comparing ‘Think Like a Freak’ with its predecessors, as the target market for the book are the people who have read the first two. The book promises you to teach you to think like the authors have all their lives, like freaks. There aren’t any economic theories in this book. This book in fact has very little to do with economics. It intends to encourage you to think ‘out of the box’.
The author has tracked down stories from around the world, using them as examples/case studies to outline how thinking like freaks can lead to success. The stories are interesting, however, the stories might sound repetitive if you follow Levitt’s weekly podcast Freakonomics Radio, like I do, and then delayed reading the book till he discussed the book and the stories on the podcast. The book is quite easy to read like its predecessors, which shows that Levitt, former journalist, is genuinely a good writer. One does however feel that the book isn’t substantial enough, being only 210 pages long. Somehow, once through, you end up feeling you still don’t have enough knowledge to start thinking like a freak.
I do feel that people who have read and understood books like the Freakonomics series or The Undercover Economist or other such books, are smart enough to understand how the authors have gone about applying economic theories to find fascinating correlations in seemingly random occurrences. I feel a new book which does not do a great job at delivering its promise is quite unnecessary.
I did like reading it, more because it kind of rounded off the Freakonomics series for me, but I think one can give this a miss if you have already read the other books.