Is Thirteen the Perfect Age to Read Think Like a Freak?

From a friend whose young daughter Lea, around 13 years old, grabbed the copy of Think Like a Freak that I send my friend and “is now devouring it.” But that’s not the good part:

She woke up this morning and told me that she had dreamed last night that we were at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees were winning 12-0, and when Lea looked around, everyone in the stands was reading Think Like a Freak.

No kidding.

And here’s a note from “an almost 13-year-old,” Charlotte, which came over the transom:

Hi! I just finished reading a pre-release of Think Like a Freak pretty much ten minutes ago, and I thought it was amazing. I just want to thank you for changing my life. When Freakonomics caught my eye when I was 11, I was already pretty nerdy/geeky — you know, books, anime, comics, sci-fi, the whole nine yards — but after reading Freakonomics, not only did I become especially nerdy, I had a whole new outlook on things. I started reading non-fiction, and now I like to read about psychology, neurology, geoengineering, astrophysics (had to read a lot of physics to be able to get that stuff), ancient Asian philosophy (oddly enough), aviation, history (of anything), and, my favorite, economics. And thanks to you and Dan Ariely (have you read his work? it’s fascinating) I look at the world in a totally different way, and I’m better for it. So basically, I’m just a really weird almost-13-year-old who’s hoping your coin will turn up tails. I mean, if you don’t think you can write another book and feel good about it, I understand, but I’ll be waiting with bated breath for a fourth. (If you’ve read this far, thank you so, so much, since this was pretty pointless).

You cannot know how happy it makes me that 13-year-olds are reading and liking this book. To me, theirs are the minds best suited to think like a Freak, since they haven’t yet adopted all the biases and preconceptions that haunt us oldster.

By the way, Charlotte’s bit about “hoping the coin will turn up tails” has to do with the book’s last chapter, in which we wonder whether we should take our own coin-toss advice and maybe knock off this whole Freakonomics thing.

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  1. Ryan Brooks says:

    I first read Freakonomics when I was fifteen, I think, and it served as a wonderful introduction to economics. I’m now an economics major in college, and it’s quite likely that I wouldn’t be where I am if it hadn’t been for Freakonomics.

    So yes, the younger your readers are, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to introduce them to something new!

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  2. Fr. Dennis says:

    You’re well on your way to cracking the “Twilight” / “Harry Potter” / “Hunger Games” market. I’m imagining Peter Jackson re-imagining your book as ‘tween fiction adventure.

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  3. Kristina says:

    My stepmother bought my father Freakonomics for his birthday when I was 15. I devoured it in a couple of hours and I, too, am now an economics major in college! It completely blew my mind that Roe v. Wade might be tied to lower crime rates. People just aren’t taught to think that way. I guess when some people learn to “think like a freak,” they stumble into an unavoidable lifetime attraction. Looking forward to the new book.

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  4. Zoe says:

    My dad recommended freakonomics to me when I was 11 and I fell in love. When people would ask me about the book I would excitedly explain in the best terms possible. No one understood why I loved statistics so much. I’ve been a freakonomics nerd ever since. I’m currently 14 and super excited for think like a freak. I picked it up at Barnes and noble earlier today in the “books dad would love” and got some odd looks from the cashier. I finally have a potential future career that doesn’t sound completely boring.

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  5. Vallin SFAS says:

    I didn’t have ‘Think Like A Freak’ available when I was 13 (1974-5), but I was told often enough that I was well on my way to doing so (I have *MY* 10000 hours!). I did, however, have a regular habit of ‘Circus’ magazine that featured Emerson (of the flying Steinway) Lake & Palmer (winners of all 3 instrumental categories: “there was a ti-i-ime” -James Brown), Yes (Topographic era), and two upstart bands called Queen and KISS (maybe you’ve heard–of–them). My singing-guitar playing debut was Spring 1975, and the rest is legend (in my own mind).

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