I confess that for a stretch of time, I convinced myself that having The Economist lying around would make me smarter, even if I never picked it up. Just by being in the same room, I’d somehow learn by osmosis about the news in each issue. Also, I liked having people think of me as the kind of person who read The Economist. But the osmosis thing didn’t happen, and I finally stopped my subscription when I realized I’d probably never read it on a regular basis.
I remembered my failed theory when I saw all of the stories about Thomas Piketty and his book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.” Less than a month ago, I suspect most of you didn’t know Mr. Piketty existed. Now, he and his book are everywhere. A good number of people will push through and read all 698 pages. Given its size and subject matter, however, Mr. Piketty’s book seems destined to land on many never-read piles. It raises the question: Why are so many people buying it in the first place?
Read the rest of the article on The New York Times.