A Very Bookish Valentine’s Day

I’m blogging elsewhere today! You can find me over at The Heroine’s Bookshelf where I’m celebrating Valentine’s Day by loving on one of my favorite recent literary heroines: Claire from Outlander. Oh, and if you haven’t jumped on the Outlander train yet, you should definitely head over, because I’m giving away the first three books in the series. Not to mention, Erin, author of the fabulous The Heroine’s Bookshelf, has a fabulous grand prize for her Heroine Love event that you must check out.

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Okay, so I can’t be the only one who hasn’t gotten anything for their significant other yet (but is/was planning to do so), right? Although I still have no clue what to buy myself, I do have an idea for some of you. I’ve only thumbed through a couple of chapters, but if you have a spouse who loves stuff like Freakanomics, and Predictably Irrational, Ive got a great last-minute Valentine’s Day gift for you:

Spousonomics: Using Economics to Manage Love, Marriage, and Dirty Dishes by Paula Szuchman

It is part self-help book, part work of behavioral economics, with the self-help part backed up by data and is far more practical than many touchy feeling self-help books (I’m not a fan of the genre in general, but this one is fascinating). Sure, a critical look at household division of labor may not sound romantic, but Spousonomics seems quite certain that implementation of some of their methods will result in some more romantic time. It seems like “more sex!” is one of their mantras, actually.

So if you have a nice, slightly nerdy spouse/significant other like mine and still need a gift, stop at your favorite bookstore on the way home today and pick this up.

Product description:

Are you happy in your marriage—except for those weekly spats over who empties the dishwasher more often? Not a single complaint—unless you count the fact that you haven’t had sex since the Bush administration? Prepared to be there in sickness and in health—so long as it doesn’t mean compromising? Be honest: Ever lay awake thinking how much more fun married life used to be?

If you’re a member of the human race, then the answer is probably “yes” to all of the above. Marriage is a mysterious, often irrational business. Making it work till death do you part—or just till the end of the week—isn’t always easy. And no one ever handed you a user’s manual.

Until now. With Spousonomics, Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson offer something new: a clear-eyed, rational route to demystifying your disagreements and improving your relationship. The key, they propose, is to think like an economist.

That’s right: an economist.

Economics is the study of resource allocation, after all. How do we—as partners in a society, a business, or a marriage—spend our limited time, money, and energy? And how do we allocate these resources most efficiently? Spousonomics answers these questions by taking classic economic concepts and applying them to the domestic front. For example:

• Arguing all night isn’t a sign of a communication breakdown; you’re just extremely loss-averse—and by refusing to give an inch, you’re risking even greater losses.
• Stay late at the office, or come home for dinner? Be honest about your mother-in-law, or keep your mouth shut and smile? Let the cost-benefit analysis make the call.
• Getting your spouse to clean the gutters isn’t a matter of nagging or guilt-tripping; it’s a question of finding the right incentives.
• Being “too busy” to exercise or forgetting your anniversary (again): your overtaxed memory and hectic schedule aren’t to blame—moral hazard is.
• And when it comes to having more sex: merely a question of supply and demand!

Spousonomics cuts through the noise of emotions, egos, and tired relationship clichés. Here, at last, is a smart, funny, refreshingly realistic, and deeply researched book that brings us one giant leap closer to solving the age-old riddle of a happy, healthy marriage.

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