Oct 21, 2011

My readings

Stories of Your life and Others by Ted Chiang.

Brilliant! This is the book one wishes everybody should be reading. It is a collection of science fiction and what one could wrongly call "theological fiction" stories -- Wikipedia calls his genre "speculative fiction," which sounds like a tautology to me. The truth is that Chiang's imagination surprised me every time. I am using this book for my institutional economics class and has worked really well.

This book is a really good summary of the recent theories of economic development with a positive outlook of what humanity has managed to achieve. Specifically, it shows the impressive improvements in living standards the world has witnessed that are not necessarily reflected in income per capita. If you are familiar with recent theories and thinkers in economic development (Daron Acemoglu, Amartya Sen, etc.) the book will be repetitive. Having said that, the book points out to some research I was unfamiliar with, like this one. It is an easy read, something you can read in a few hours. 

Cutting edge research in economic development using Randomized Control Trials. Along with Poor Economics, this is one of the most important books in the field in the past twenty years. I posted a review of this book before. Very well written. 

I am still working on this one. It is a historical view of the reasons why many Guatemalans have converted to Protestantism. Although the thesis is more complex, the causal factors of conversion have to do with social uncertainty in a environment plagued with crime and other social problems, especially in the past thirty years -- although the author does not discard spiritual explanations. In some sections the author argues that people have converted because of economic benefits, or because Protestant churches provide a social network. In some parts the author claims that Weber's theories apply but in other parts the author explicitly rejects his theories. The history is certainly complex and multi causal. Probably the most important part of the book is the analysis of the link between political leaders and Protestantism in the country.  

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