March Book of the Month shortlist: The Geek-lit Squad
We thought we'd ring the changes with Book Club this month. So, instead of novels, we've a shortlist of non-fiction bestsellers for you to choose your Book of the Month from.
They all take a geeky issue du jour – from econonics to science to statistical phenomena – and examine them from radical, entertaining and enormously funny new angles. But which would you choose as Mumsnet's March Book of the Month?
Bad Science by Ben Goldacre
Ben Goldacre is a modern-day crusader against quackery, fakery and all manner of sloppy and misleading behaviour in the world of science (and science reporting). This excellent, admirable book is a collection of his investigations, and pulses with anger and wit. His writing is hugely readable and fun but, most of all, prevents you from being hoodwinked by hundreds of bogus claims, whether vitamin supplements or "cures" for cancer. As the Independent said, "Thousands of books are enjoyable, many are enlightening but only a very few will ever rate as necessary to social health. This is one of them." Chosen as a Book of the Year by almost every newspaper, it is an essential and enlightening read.
Critics say: "The important book you'll read this year, and quite possibly the funniest.' Charlie Brooker, The Guardian
Freakonomics by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner
This famous bestseller (over 4 million copies sold worldwide) takes the principles of economics and applies it to all sorts of everyday situations. The approach is a bit Indiana Jones, trying to piece together riddles and clues but using very un-sexy-sounding "data". Surprisingly, it makes for a very imaginative and illuminating book. The offbeat topics include why it doesn't pay to go to a posh secondary school, and why many drug dealers live with their mums. This is the kind of book that gives you excellent nuggets of trivia with which to astound and amaze your friends.
Critics say: "A sensation. You'll be stimulated, provoked and entertained. Of how many books can that be said?" Sunday Telegraph
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
The author of The Tipping Point turns his gaze on what makes extraordinary people extraordinary, uncovering patterns shared by business tycoons, genius inventors and superhuman athletes. ("Outlier" is a word to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience.) So, we discover why a huge number of professional sportsmen are born in January, February and March, and that there's one magic year to be born if you want to be a software entrepreneur, and another if you want to be filthy rich. The style is lively and straightforward. An excellent book to spark debate (and plot your children's future by birthdate).
Critics say: "A global phenomenon. One of the most brilliant and influential writers of his generation... He has a genius for making everything he writes seem like an impossible adventure." Observer
The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford
Want to feel informed about the world but find the fiscal rules of Alistair Darling's Budget leave you utterly befuddled? This is the book for you. In ten chapters ranging from cappuccinos to world poverty, Tim Harford reveals the processes that keep our lives turning, answering a million questions from "Why is it impossible to get a foot on the property ladder?" to "Who really benefits from immigration?" to "How did China achieve its stratospheric rise in just 50 years?" Economics is behind every decision we make, and yet most of us would admit it leaves us cold. Harford manages to make it fresh, funny (yes, really) and relevant. And makes you feel rather clever, too.
Critics say: "Reading this book is like spending an ordinary day wearing X-ray goggles" David Bodanis, author of Electric Universe
Vote for your choice by Sun 28 February and then join our book club discussion on Tuesday 30 March at 8pm.
Last updated: about 3 years ago