Professor Mario Solis-Garcia teaches macroeconomics and researches the connection between government policy and private sector reactions.

Any standout books you’ve read recently?
I’m hooked on Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, which wasn’t on my radar until three of my students referenced it in essays. The book explores how we presume that some people are just born with a skill—but success is actually more about hard work, discipline, and luck.

What’s one of your all-time favorite reads?
I read anything that José Saramago writes, but my all-time favorite is All the Names. It’s magical realism. I read it in Spanish—maybe someday I’ll learn Portuguese so I can read the original.

What book is crucial to understanding your academic niche?
Recursive Methods in Economic Dynamics, by Nancy Stokey, Robert Lucas, Jr., and Edward Prescott. We joke, though, that the authors are the only three people in the world who know exactly what’s going on in that book. I require Karthik Athreya’s Big Ideas in Macroeconomics for intermediate macro. When students come into this class, I need to rewire their brains for this framework. It’s a shock, and this book helps.

Any guilty-pleasure reads?
I’ve been going down the rabbit hole about the “science” behind biohacking. Right now it’s David Perlmutter’s Grain Brain, about how carbs affect brain health through the gut. There are so many extremes: one writer advocated eating a half-pound of liver every other night. I’m just trying to find common themes about how we can tinker with this machine that we’re running. When it’s midnight and I’m reading before turning out the light, that’s what I enjoy.

What one book would you recommend to everyone at Macalester?
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck. Like Outliers, it’s about dropping assumptions about what we can and can’t do. Students come to me saying they’re afraid of math, and that’s the fixed mindset: if you think you can’t do it, then you can’t. If you just keep working, you’ll reap the benefits. That’s the growth mindset. Since reading it, I’m more open to trying things—and sometimes I surprise myself.

October 21 2020

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