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10 Must Read Economics Books

Anyone that's a true fan of the paper that makes the world go round should pick up at least one of these must read economics books.

Economics can be, admittedly, a pretty boring subject to casually read up on. Not everyone is a fan of how the US economy—or any economy for that matter—works.

For those seemingly disinterested in the subject altogether, I implore you to read some of the good stuff. Sure, there is plenty of subject matter that can be viewed as "boring," but when it comes to money—something that makes the world go round—wouldn't you want to know everything you can to maximize your own net worth? Luckily, there are plenty of economics books that are not only helpful in that regard, but they are also some pretty interesting reads. So for all of you free trade enthusiasts out there, let's take a look at some must read economics books that will help you get a better feel for just how everything works.

If you truly want to study the economic roots of the United States, then this classic book from Adam Smith is a good place to start. This title will allow you to learn some of the essentials of economics, and I'd actually advise you to read this book first so that you can reap the greatest benefit from its comprehensive formatting. This is perhaps one of the most common books assigned to economics students, so it can definitely serve as an initial platform to expand your knowledge further than you may have imagined.

While there are plenty of people that still, for whatever reason, vouch for the implementation of socialism, it is undeniable that our country was founded—and has since thrived—on free market capitalism. For those looking to further grasp the complex system of capitalism and free trade, Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom is a must read. Here, you'll learn the nuances of the economic system that has caught its fair share of flack in recent years, but now you can be the judge on what works and what doesn't. The Socialism vs. Capitalism debate has, arguably, never been more real, so that makes this must read economics book a priority on your list.

For the millennial culture, the aforementioned books might be a little too outdated, and for lack of a better word, boring. But Freakonomics, cowritten by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, gives readers a more exciting crash course on economics. This book relates to all aspects of life—from parenting to sports—and helps put everything in an economic perspective. It's a groundbreaking piece of nonfiction, really.

Although you might have acquired PTSD from the amount of textbooks you have to, or did have to, read in school, there is no doubt that they are helpful in breaking up subject matter in a linear, comprehensive manner. Understanding Economics is a textbook from McGraw Hill, but it paints a pretty vivid overall picture about the fundamentals of modern economics, and provides some key examples of interesting case studies. It's not exactly one of the more exciting reads on this list, but in terms of core information, you can't go wrong with something like this.

Look, not everyone is out here trying to be the next Benjamin Graham. Some of us just want to get a word of caution about our booming economy, and move on to our next topic of interest. Well, if that is the case for you, Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt is probably a good introduction to the financial world. With only 220 pages of text, you're really only getting into the nitty gritty of economics. You don't have to be a part of a remarkably affluent society to want to learn these core principles. Chances are though, after reading this title, you will want to.

Charles Wheelan's book, Naked Economics, is highly relatable in tone. It acknowledges that the study of economics, as a whole, isn't always the most interesting subject matter, but there is certainly value in it nonetheless. This book makes the study of economics that much more exciting with a concise, easy-to-read format that can appeal to people of varying education levels.

If you really want to get into the thick of things and are looking into a more advanced read, then I'd definitely suggest Strategy and Dynamics in Contests. This book elaborates on some of the concepts from the London School of Economics; most notably, the theory structure underlying contests, which highlights how people are willing to spend vast amounts of money to get ahead of their competition, so to speak. Overall, it's a pretty interesting, and eye opening, read for wannabe economists.

Economist Steven Landsburg is a pretty versatile author, but The Armchair Economist may just be his own, personal cream of the crop, so to speak. The book dives into Landsburg's own way of thinking about common, real world occurrences, while relating them to economics as a whole. This ranges from the simple cost of popcorn, to straight up economic metrics like inflation rates. Chances are, you'll even be able to see some common signs of trouble in the stock market after reading this book.

Behavioral economics, or the use of psychological insights in human behavior to help explain economic decision-making, remains one of the more fascinating topics within the scope of modern economics. While people often focus on numbers and data, there are some undeniable advantages to understanding the human psyche. Misbehaving by Richard H. Thaler goes into some of those advantages, and paints a vivid picture of behavioral economics as a whole.

All of these books cater to certain individual's own needs, in terms of economics, and this particular book is no different. For those interested in looking at the global economy on a much larger scale, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy is certainly a satisfying read. The book itself gives readers the economic basics, while also giving some interesting examples to help paint a broader picture. If this doesn't constitute itself as one of the many must read economics books, then I don't know what does.

Brett Tortorello
Brett Tortorello
Brett Tortorello

I’m a middle aged man currently working as a Shift Supervisor at Bob’s Furniture. I’m thinking about opening up my own restaurant some day, but my real passion is expressing myself through writing.

See all posts by Brett Tortorello

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