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The Book of Odds: From Lightning Strikes to Love at First Sight, the Odds of Everyday Life Paperback – January 7, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The Book of Odds is filled with good news (you have a relatively good chance of experiencing love at first sight), mixed news (you are less likely to be killed by a co-worker than by a sibling), and bad news (don’t even ask). (Barnes & Noble, Editor's Recommendation)

The Book of Odds…shows the surprising probabilities governing everyday life, including how your sex life stacks up. (Salon.com)

An enticing read from cover to cover, the odds are great that you will enjoy this book. (Library Journal)

About the Author

Amram Shapiro is the founder and president of the Book of Odds. He is coauthor of Product Development, Success Through Product and Cycle-Time Excellence and has contributed to numerous journals including Research Technology Management and CFO magazine.

Louise Firth Campbell is the chief operating officer of the Book of Odds. She has more than twenty-five years' experience advising companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations on strategic business, technology, and marketing issues, as well as on public policy.

Rosalind Wright is the founding editor of the Book of Odds. She has published two novels: Rocking, which received an award from PEN International, and Veracruz, which received the top fiction prize from the Texas Institute of Letters.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (January 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062060856
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062060853
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"The odds a man has lied about the number of sex partners he's had in order to protect his ego: 1 in 17." "When it comes to sex, most people think experience is a good thing--but they also think there can be too much of a good thing." But this book is not all about sex. Some of the other chapter headings include "Accidents and Death," "High School and College," and "Mind, Psyche, and Addiction." The graphics in this book are crisp and helpful. "The Book of Odds" is not intended for use as a required textbook at any collegiate level, but it is very well conceived and presented. It would probably be checked out of a college library more than any other non-required publication. If you're a fan of Guinness World Records, you will like this book. Oh, to answer my initial question: What are the chances you'll like this book? My totally unscientific answer is 1 in 1. --Michael Carrier
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Format: Kindle Edition
I happened to have the chance to attend the book's launch event at the Harvard Coop in January, where the authors spoke at length on their motivations and methodology. Quite a fascinating read and a handsome conversation starter for one's living room. It may just provoke a revaluation of your probabilistic values: I go about in (slightly elevated) fear of a lightning strike now, but am unperturbed at the thought of being bitten by a venomous snake!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Considerably better than previous books in the genre, this is “serious trivia” giving statistics about everyday life. As the authors acknowledge, such statistics represent “chances” only for a person about whom who know nothing, and you have never met such a person, and in particular you are not such a person, so treating these numbers as “your chances” would be nonsensical. With this proviso it’s fun to browse as trivia, but is also a useful starting point for any more serious investigation, because it carefully cites sources. Unfortunately the “magazine” style of frenetic page layout, combined with curiously unimaginative ways of presenting the actual data (as lists rather than graphics — there’s a reason histograms were invented!) is more distracting than engaging.

The focus in initial chapters on sex, romance, pregnancy etc may strike readers as a cheap way to boost sales. In fact, my data on search engine searches for "chance of" shows that over 25% of such search engine queries are about contraception or pregnancy related matters, so the range of topics in the book is in fact not so far removed from the range of topics for which people actually care about chances.

As a final comment, much psychological research such as Thinking, Fast and Slow and Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction shows that in thinking about chances for (say) "will this recent marriage last 10 years?" people put too much weight on their evaluation of the specific people and not enough weight on the statistical "base rate" for such events, so there is actual value in knowing these statistics.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pythagoras, the mystic philosopher and mathematician, is quoted as saying, "All is number". Six centuries later Philo, that first century eccentric historian, opined that numbers are a reflection of a divine creative genius. No matter who you agree with, at least in terms of how we define ourselves in the modern age, Pythagoras' statement is closer to being true than at any point in the past twenty five hundred years.

I must say, I think Pythagoras would be thrilled because today we have a new way to see our lives through numbers, it's called the Book of Odds. The Book of Odds offers unique insights into human nature and our interaction with the world around us.

Did you know that 1 in 1.3 people (age 18-29) would "endure all things" for the person they loved or that 1 in 1.4 people believe in a personal God? Have you ever wondered about the odds of being struck by lighting or having a daughter who is left handed? What are the odds your next child will be boy or your husband thinks about his weight? You'll find the answer to these questions and many more in the fascinating Book of Odds.

Sometimes humorous, often sobering, always enlightening, the Book of Odds enumerates the age in which we live. If numbers are a means by which we choose to order and define ourselves in the modern age, then the Book of Odds is an epic which tells our story.
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Format: Paperback
The book is a beautifully arranged, easy to read, compilation of facts on every imaginable subject. It is great for solo reading, or for sharing with a group. While some compilations would venture to explain and contextualize every tidbit, this is really a 'just the facts, M'am' compilation. It is not a book that seeks to interpret all of these facts for you, which I find to be very refreshing. If I ran any kind of office, I would absolutely buy it for my waiting room. Likewise, it's a very choice book to have visible in your house for guests ~ it has already served as an excellent icebreaker at a recent gathering. Venturing into The Book of Odds has really informed my understanding of how frequently we all make decisions based on assumptions that are inaccurate, or at least relatively haphazard. More than just a collection of a facts, this book is a tool for gaining some perspective on the relative likelihood that your habits of conclusion need a tweak.
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