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“Freakonomics” Selected for Appalachian’s Summer Reading Program

clip_image002_001.jpgBOONE-The best-seller “Freakonomics,” a look at “the hidden side of everything” from an economist’s point of view, is the summer reading selection for entering freshmen at Appalachian State University.

The book is co-written by economist Steven D. Levitt and Appalachian alumnus Stephen Dubner.

Dubner, a 1984 graduate, will be the guest speaker at Appalachian’s fall convocation Sept. 7. He also will participate in a discussion with faculty and students, and talk about his work during the Hughlene B. Frank Visiting Writers Series and at a presentation at the Watauga County Public Library. Details of his visit will be announced at a later date.

Incoming freshmen will receive a copy of the book during summer orientation, and they will be invited to participate in small group discussions prior to the start of classes in August.

“Freakonomics” has spent more than 37 weeks on the New York Times Bestsellers list. It was recommended by members of the university’s Summer Reading Committee, comprised of university faculty, staff and students.

The Chicago Times wrote that the book “unfolds much less like a typical arcane economic treatise and more like the type of detective story that has you reading late into the night.”

“This book’s history on the best-seller list reflects its readability and appeal to a broad audience,” said Janice Pope, co-chair of the university’s Summer Reading Committee and a faculty member in the Department of Communication.”We expect this will translate into high student readership and interest.”

The book’s authors look at a range of topics using statistics such as crime rates, the correlation of advertising slogans to real estate prices and the economics of fear.

“The Summer Reading Committee likes the potential this book has for use in departments across campus,” Pope said.”It is a book from which faculty can easily choose to incorporate selected chapters that best fit their courses. It is suitable for extended discussions in the areas of history, political science, sociology, foreign language, music, art and many other academic disciplines.”

Dubner is a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine, and was a writer and editor for the publication from 1994 to 1999. He has also written for The New Yorker, Time and The Washington Post, and has been a PBS correspondent.

He wrote the memoir “Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son’s Return to his Jewish Family,” which was named a Notable Book by the New York Times and was a finalist for the Koret National Jewish Book Award. Dubner’s book “Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper” about his childhood fascination with the former Pittsburgh Steeler’s running back Franco Harris was published in 2003 by HarperCollins.

Dubner received an M.F.A. in writing from Columbia University, where he also taught in the English department.

During his undergraduate years at Appalachian, he started a rock band, The Right Profile, which was signed to Arista Records.