Readers Question: I was just wondering if you could recommend some books that might be slight obscure but raise certain issues, or something that is just interesting to you. I am keen to learn around he subject and I want to explore the non-typical side of economics ( e.g applied microeconomics or econometrics)
The first thing is that any reading is beneficial, even if it is short pieces from BBC news, a grasp of current economic issues will put you ahead of many student contemporaries. But, as well as newspaper and magazines, there are a few books which will help spark a greater understanding of wider issues.
Some Economic Books.
- The Worldly Philosophers: by Robert L. Heilbroner – a good overview of economic thought
- Peddling Prosperity by Paul R. Krugman . Also the Return of Depression Economics is a good backdrop to current crisis
- The Armchair Economist by Steven E. Landsburg – A look at how economics can reveal in everyday issues and choices.
- Nickel and Dimed – by Ehrenreich. A look at the bottom end of the US labour market.
- Choice and Consequence by TC Schelling
- The Economics of Life by Gary S. Becker
- The Evolution of Cooperation by Robert Axelrod – a further look at game theory and prisoner’s dilemma’s
- Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt Almost ubiquitous these days but still worth reading.
- Game Theory: by Morton D. Davis
Reading From My Blog
My own interests tend towards the Macro applied side of economics, with perhaps labour market and housing market as other interests. I certainly veer away from econometrics. I think this series will be of some interest.
It gives a simple introduction to the broader issues that occurred in the UK.
Economics for Dummies.
I’m a big fan of simple books. I find that if you give a student a real classic like Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom, they either won’t read it or won’t full appreciate it. To have a good grasp of a debate like Monetarism vs Keynesian ism is a good start, that may cultivate further reading.
50 Economic Ideas You Really Need to Know
a more upmarket version of Economics for Dummies.
Passive Reading vs Active Reading
It’s one thing to read, but, there are no prizes for buying 20 economics books. Reading books is no guarantee it will help. But, if done with the right attitude it can definitely help improve you application and also improve your enjoyment of the subject. As you read, try to:
- Identify possible questions related to the reading.
- How could you critique what you are reading?
- What are main debates which the book raises.
One note: if you find an economics book is as dull and incomprehensible, that’s probably because it is dull an incomprehensible. For example, Keynes’ General Theory of Money 1936, is considered a classic of economics. It created a whole new subdivision of economics – macroeconomics, but, it doesn’t change the fact, it is pretty dull and incomprehensible. If you never see it in a bookshop, that’s because, it’s never going to be a best seller. It’s one of those books, that if you’re an economist you feel obliged to have on your bookshelf, but have no intention of ever reading it from cover to cover.