Summer Reading Book Series 2010

Summer Reading: Betsey Stevenson

Marketplace Staff Jun 28, 2010


Tess Vigeland: A good chunk of the population, at least here in LA got an early jump on the holiday by taking this week off. I know this, because my commute to work was half what it usually is. Summer vacation season is upon us. Time to hit the beach, catch a movie, read a book.

So today we kick off our week-long Summer Book series. Five Marketplace regulars tell us one book — any book — they’re reading this summer. First up, economist Betsey Stevenson.

Betsey Stevenson: For me, a good vacation involves non-fiction, a novel and short stories. In past years, that’s meant hauling an overweight bag. But this year, I’ll be taking my Kindle with me, so my bags will be lighter, but my selection larger.

My non-fiction choice this summer is Tara Parker Pope’s book, “For Better: the Science of a Good Marriage.” My family will tease me for taking work on vacation. You see, I’m an economist whose main research is on marriage. And for full disclosure my work is discussed in the book. But I can’t wait.

This book is amazing. Parker Pope pulls together research on marriage from across disciplines. While I naturally think that economists have interesting insights into marriage, it’s fun to hear what psychologists, anthropologists, biologists and neurologists have learned. For instance, we economists consider things like how marriage is affected by our social circumstances — for example, the unemployment rate or how easy it is to meet people. But we don’t have much to say about the smell of someone’s sweat, which biologists say helps us sniff out people who are good genetic matches.

Parker Pope brings the insights from these fields and others together, to paint a vivid picture of marriage. But it’s not just blue sky science. She boils these findings down into practical tips for making the most of your relationship. I expect this combination to give me better insights into both my research and my personal life, which is why I call it vacation reading.

As for the rest of my books, I’m still mulling my options and I welcome your suggestions.

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