Book Review: “Think Like a Freak” by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

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Brent Hopkins

I have rarely harped on it when writing here, (too busy raging at games and reviewing comic books) but I am a huge business and economics fan. I have my undergraduate in International Business and am currently working on a master’s degree in Human Resource Management, so something is always drawing me to this side of literature. That being said, I am no economist, but I think it is fascinating how certain things are correlated.

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner came to prominence with their collaboration Freakonomics. This book and its sequel, SuperFreakonomics, used economics (though you can argue it’s a lot of sociology and criminology as well) to help explain the correlation between a myriad of things that would seem ridiculous to a normal person. This goes from abortion affecting the crime rate to teachers cheating to boost grades. There have been some issues brought up from other researchers with their methods and phrasing, but as long as you read with a reasonable mindset the books are incredibly engrossing.

This brings us to the third book, Think Like a Freak, which was released this summer. The book takes a break from telling stories about how approaching problems with a different mindset can lead to unique solutions and instead uses little tales to try and get the reader to think uniquely in various situations. The entire book comes off as almost a self-help work, but refrains from really pointing out direct flaws in people that need to be fixed. Instead, the authors explain how problems don’t always have simple solutions, but when you think like a “freak” amazing things could, not will, happen.

I am a pretty practical and positive person so it was a treat to read something that resonates with me at the age of 28. Two topics in particular stuck with me as they talked about quitting and redefining problems to help redefine solutions. They used two rather fascinating stories to draw the readers in: one focused on Takeru Kobayashi, the famous Japanese eating champion, and how he figured out how to eat hot dogs so quickly and another story about a company that invents things but often has to give up on ideas if they aren’t feasible. The line “Fail Quick and Fail Cheap” is simple but makes a lot of sense from a business mindset. These topics will make the reader step back and ask: “Could I handle doing that?” which I feel is precisely what the authors set out to do.

This book is largely about self-limitations, fear, and dealing with pride. Most of the situations brought up are not about external issues, but instead about how people get so focused on either being right or setting up artificial boundaries that they can never get to the next level. Think Like a Freak holds your hand through these issues and packs a lot of depth for such a short read.

Should You Read It?

Yes. It may not change your life, but I think it has enough depth to really be applicable to anyone’s life.

Brent Hopkins considers himself jack-o-all-trades and a great listener. Chat with him about his articles or anything in general at

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