Book A Month: When to Rob a Bank

After reading two serious books I figured it was time to read a light hearted book (my decision was also helped by the fact that this was the last of the four I got over the holidays and had no alternatives). If you haven’t heard of Steven Levitt or Stephen Dubner they are authors and an economist (Levitt) who mainly earned their fame with the book and then movie and podcast titled Freakonomics. With Freakonomics and now When to Rob a Bank, among others, the pair dives into economic driven observations. These observations and findings are a result of their blog with the same title which was then pooled together to form this book.

While it doesn’t sound very light hearted and enjoyable, Levitt and Dubner write in a very friendly and amusing way. Then couple that with stories ranging from when banks get robbed, to how tennis endorsement taxes impact which tournaments players compete in, to how professional poker works. The result is an entertaining yet informative read that it perfect for when you have a few free minutes here and there (the stories range in length from half a page to three pages). The way they formed the chapters also kept it enjoyable. For example, there’s a chapter on cheating which ranges from the blackjack table to relationships. So if one entry isn’t appealing to you, the next entry isn’t far off and will likely be something you are interested in.

Yes, at the end of the day you are paying for a collection of blog posts that are free and readily available online but these entries are the best of the lot and they added context and updates that you wouldn’t get with their blog.

I should mention that, even though they look at things from an economics perspective, it isn’t dry and as someone taking microeconomics and previously macro, it helped build a fuller understanding of a few topics. Plus there is a fantastic story at the end that is a must-read.

So long story short, give this book a go if you are looking for fun, interesting book to help pass the time. The movie, Freakonomics (where I first got to know them and on Netflix) is also a fun watch.

With a month and a half (I finished this book over a week ago) until I want to have read another book, I decided to pick up Titan by Ron Chernow which is roughly double in length (675 pages) the books I have been reading. John D. Rockefeller had a long and very successful life and Chernow was enlisted to write about every aspect of it, unlike Rockefeller biographers before him. Hopefully I’ll have read it before May comes.



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