What I’ve Been Reading

1. Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness, by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein.

I liked Alan Schwartz’s Amazon review: ""Buy on apples, sell on cheese" is an old proverb among wine merchants. Taking a bite of an apple before tasting wine makes it easier to detect flaws in the wine, and the buyer who does so will not as easily make the mistake of paying more than the wine is worth. Cheese, on the other hand, pairs well with wine and enhances its flavor, so a seller who offers cheese may command a higher price for the wine (and may even deserve it, if the wine is intended to be drunk with cheese).""

2. Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.  Yes, that’s the Clay Shirky.  This is (implicitly) a very good Hayekian, spontaneous order treatment of social software on the web.  The book poses a simple and important question: what happens when it is virtually costless to organize people into groups?

3. Starved for Science: How Biotechnology is Being Kept Out of Africa, by Robert Paarlberg.  The point is unassailable, the subtitle says it all.

4. Steve Coll, The Bin Ladens: A Saudi Family in the American Century.  So far it’s great.  I know you’re sick of reading about Bin Laden; just think of it as a (partial) history of the Saudis.

Addendum: The new "Nudge" blog is here.


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