Summer Reading List: A Study in Perspective

When I read for pleasure during the academic year, I find myself craving novels – I like the escape of fiction when I’m up to my neck in assignments. However, once I’ve been away from lecture halls and paper-writing for a while, I start to miss the content of my classes and the atmosphere of academia. Without further ado, here’s a short list of books that make me excited to learn, including one I think everyone should read, one I’m currently working on, and one from my to-read pile.

Must Read: Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner (New York: Harper Perennial, 2006).

“But Mallory,” I hear you say. “I know nothing about economics. I have no interest in economics. I would rather watch paint dry than read a book about economics.” Even if the previous statements sound like you, this book will change that. The authors describe the discipline of economics as “an extraordinarily powerful set of tools with which to find answers, but a serious lack of interesting questions.” This is a sentiment I agree with to some extent; I find the world of interest rates, stock markets, and trade agreements fascinating, but the average person might not, and that is okay. This book tackles a range of topics, from violent crime to elections to parenting, and uses economic analysis to reveal new truths about them, which often differ dramatically from previously-held beliefs. It ultimately brings economics back to its roots – the study of incentives, or how people get what they want when everyone else wants it too. I read Freakonomicsduring the summer between finishing high school and starting at Acadia (2014 was a simpler time). It is what made me want to study economics and I come back to it constantly. Freakonomicsmight not send you running to our department to change your major, but it will give you new ways of looking at the world; and for that, it is more than worth the read.

Currently Reading:Trudeaumania, Robert Wright (Toronto: HarperCollins Canada, 2016).

In terms of pure badass-ness, Pierre Elliott Trudeau is arguably Canada’s coolest PM ever to hold office (I’d say “change my mind” but I doubt anyone will). This book’s aim is to dispel the myths surrounding Trudeau’s rise to power, and to paint an accurate picture of the political climate that allowed for it. The first ~100 pages have covered Trudeau’s personal political philosophy and his vision for Canada, discussing how his upbringing in Montreal, his education at UdeM and Harvard, and his travels affected these things. I might feel differently by the time I reach the end, but so far, my take is that anyone who has an interest in political history, Canadian federalism, or the man himself would probably really enjoy this book, regardless of political stripe.

To Read: 12 Rules for Life, Jordan B. Peterson (Toronto: Random House of Canada, 2018).

I was kind of afraid to include this one, I’ll be honest. I know very little about the specifics of Dr. Peterson’s research; what I do know is that he is a very controversial figure in the world of academia. The 12 rules for which the book is named include some that seem like common sense (such as “Make friends with people who want the best for you”) and some that seem a bit more nonsensical (for example, “Pet a cat when you see one on the street” – I think that’s great advice, but I’m not sure why a clinical psychologist is telling me this). I haven’t started this book yet and I’m not sure what to expect. However, it jumped off the shelves at me, maybe because of Peterson’s reputation, and I’ve found myself looking forward to cracking it open. Even if I don’t agree with anything Peterson has to say, I’m always looking to hear perspectives different from my own.

Bonus – a playlist!

Since I don’t play video games and haven’t watched any new movies or TV (beyond obsessively watching NHL playoff highlights and royal wedding footage), I thought I’d put together a short playlist of the music I’ve been listening to lately. These songs are in no particular order and have no significance other than the fact that they remind me of summer, and my family is probably tired of hearing them. (Is this the journalistic equivalent of “check out my mixtape”?)

Mallory Kroll is a fifth year Economics (Honours) student and Managing Editor of The Athenaeum