Saturday, April 26, 2014

Book Recommendations

One of my best students this semester in the introductory macro course requested a summer list of books to read. She based this request on her reading of The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power and Politics of the World Trade

I can think of a number of excellent books with insight and, unless I note otherwise, tremendously accessible and readable.

The books that follow are in no particular order, but you might consider starting with one of the first three

Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets John McMillan Ridley, Matt The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves.

Seabright, Paul. (2010) The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger Marc Levinson This is an amazing book - Levinson is a journalist, but this is a very nice lay view of technological change, innovation, creativity as told through a single good.

John Steele Gordon - all of his books are amazing, he is an historian rather than economist. I would start with Empire of Wealth, but look at his amazon author page, his book on the Transatlantic cable is superb and his short history of the National Debt (Hamilton's Blessing) is a must read.

Jay Dolan - he is a journalist - I would start with Fur, Fortune, and Empire: The Epic History of the Fur Trade in America.

I would suggest PJ O Rourke On the Wealth of Nations. Since reading Smith's Wealth of Nations is daunting, work (well worth the effort, but still a real sweat and tears effort) this is a hilarious and accurate view of the essentials of this important book.

Peter Bernstein - I would start with Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk but they are all great and perhaps more challenging than any other book on this list.

You must read Milton Freedom - Capitalism and Freedom

You must read Frederick Hayek - The Road to Serfdom

You must read Thomas Sowell A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles

Marc Aronson Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky He also has a really interesting book on the history of the world through Cod. Who would have thunk?

DeSoto, Hernando (2000) The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else.

DeSoto's book is a very accessible, well known and important book on the potential for lesser developed countries to progress through an unleashing of creativity and talent. I think you would enjoy this one.

How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World... by Arthur Herman. Really helps you to learn about the context of Adam Smith and his contemporaries - I found it a great read and learned a ton.

Thinking, Fast and Slow Paperback by Daniel Kahneman Kahneman won the nobel and this is an amazing intro into the foundations of behavioral economics. I suspect you would really enjoy this and, after reading this read The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt.

Frank, Robert H. The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations of Everyday Enigmas

Sylvia Nasar The Grand Pursuit. She wrote A Beautiful Mind which became the interesting Russell Crowe movie of the same name.

A one hour discussion by Nasar

Ed Glaeser The Triumph of the City.

Moretti The New Geography of Jobs

The next 3 are real fun, quick reads with applications of the economic way of thinking that are provocative and fun.

Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (Fully Revised and Updated) Charles Wheelan

The Undercover Economist Paperback by Tim Harford

The Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life by Steven E. Landsburg and/or More Sex Is Safer Sex: The Unconventional Wisdom of Economics .

Biographies that are amazing (both are quite long)

Thomas McCraw - Prophet of Innovation (life of Joseph Schumpeter)

JEremy Edelman - LIve of AO HIrschmann

This link will lead you to a blog I used to run with tons of info on books you might find interesting

I don't know if you are into podcasts (you could listen when you ride), but EconTalk is amazing -

I listen every week, but if I had to recommend one episode, it would be Mike Munger on Milk

His episodes on recycling, fair trade and middlemen are hilarious and might challenge your beliefs about these ideas. His economic analysis of recycling is also found in Landsdale's the armchair economist and, if you have never seen this Penn and Teller, you might laugh - it is from their show Bullshit, so you might find it offensive - they really through around the F Bomb. But the "experiment" they show in the episode reflects the costs and . . . costs of recycling.

Dan Benjamin is mentioned in the Penn and Teller episode and he is another great writer.

Reason TV and Drew Carey

Carey makes a key point in measuring well being here. This is an idea in Benjamin Friedman's book The Moral Consequences of Growth

This is the author and book referenced by Carey in the TV episode

Cox, W. Michael and Richard Alm (1999) Myths of the Rich and Poor: Why We're Better Off Than We Think.

There are a ton of great blogs to follow economics

This is not just economics, a wide range of topics.

David Warsh is an economic journalist

Marginal Revolution (note the link to MRUniversity, a no monetary cost set of college classes

The Coordination Problem with Pete Beottke

Not on economics

The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley

Pinker, Steven (2011) The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.

These are a tad more challenging economics (not summer reading) but worth the effort

Lal, Deepak (2006) Reviving the Invisible Hand: The Case for Classical Liberalism in the Twenty-first Century.

Hirschman, Albert O. (1977) The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph

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