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I spent way too much time reading economics, history, political theory, philosophy and all things related to learning more and teaching economics. But at the same time, I try to have at least one book or article going at all times that are far removed from it. Last month one of those books was Lenore Skenazy’s excellent Free Range Kids. It is filled with nice stories about frantic parents and full of good sources for data on risks of various things parents fret about. Much of the data was not new to me, but it was great to see it in a popular book that I suspect will get read by many people who would never read an economist’s blog postings on risk.

Then I get to one of the ending chapters and the following quote is emblematic of several other quotes that I noticed like it throughout the book.

For instance, if you have moved to a neighborhood plagued by deadly spiders, all I can say is: Deadly spiders? My god. Deadly? Spiders? Deadly Spiders?

Which may not be a whole lot of help.

Likewise, if you are worried about a huge issue like global warming and how it will affect your child, I don’t get into that here either, even though I am sure its long term effects are a lot scarier than whatever might happen if your kid takes a swig of Children’s Nyquil before age four.

In fact, now that I think about it, the last 8-10 non-economic/work related books I have read have been choc full of comments like it.  The highlight is mine above. This quote comes after 150 or so pages of the author sharply reminding us of how important it is to know the data and be aware of the actual risk and to not fall pray to the fear mongering of the news agencies, newspapers, corporations and other parents. I don’t think she is remotely aware of the contradiction. Furthermore, can I just read a damn book about raising kids and not have to hear yet another snarky remark about how we are wrecking the world, or the vicious inequalities perpetuated by the bourgeois class? Really. I’d pay an extra dollar per book if someone could flag on Amazon whether the book includes stuff like this or not.

Note that I am not saying that it is inappropriate to write these sorts of things – gosh, all the power to the authors who do it. But once in a while, you want to take your mind completely off of some things, and I spent some money on this book for that purpose. This is why we watch movies, play sports, go for hikes, and the like. I’d love to hear my readers’ thoughts on how to avoid these sorts of situations – and no, “stop reading” is not an option.

2 Responses to “I Just Wanted to Read Something Different”

  1. Speedmaster says:

    I know what you mean about needing to read something different.

    I just finished this:

    Reading this now:

  2. Harry says:

    I know what you mean, wintercow. I like reading crime novels, among other things. Sometimes the author is going along just fine and then just kills the tone, the plot, everything.

    The good ones do not do this. They let their story tell us about what they think of human nature.

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