Any top ten list requires some sort of criteria. If I were to go simply with economists I support, the list would be a little one-sided, so I’ve included both books I disagree with in part or almost in whole, but from which I gained significantly from reading. This list should give you a very good understanding of basic economics. So here we go:
10. The Mind of the Market - Michael Shermer
Probably the best, quick overview of behavioral economics and the croosroads between evolutionary psychology and economics.
9. How Capitalism Saved America – Thomas Dilorenzo
A quick economic history of the United States, starting with the puritans and William Bradford’s socialist mistake (they almost starved until he put private property in place) to the present day, showing how capitalism has been enormously beneficial.
8. Freefall – George Stiglitz
A look at our current financial crisis from the left. Stiglitz documents the corruption within the private sector (which most certainly existed) in the lead up to the crash.
7. Economic Facts and Fallacies – Thomas Sowell
A devastating critique of some of the most popular economic fallacies, from the gender wage gap to urban myths to third world myths and on and on and on.
6. Where Keynes Went Wrong – Hunter Lewis
A thorough, but plainly written, critique of John Maynard Keynes, especially his famous book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money
5. Meltdown – Thomas E. Woods
A libertarian look at our current financial crisis, which explains why the Federal Reserve and government policy lead to the current crisis.
4. Free to Choose – Milton Friedman
3. Basic Economics – Thomas Sowell
Now in it’s fourth edition, Thomas Sowell’s most popular economics book is a great introduction to economics and more importantly, how to think like an economist.
2. The Ascent of Money – Niall Ferguson
A wonderful, little economic history of the world. Ferguson describes the beginnings of banking, insurance, joint stock companies and the bond market. It’s only flaw is it focuses primarily on the West until the 20th century. Otherwise, it’s brilliant.
1. Economics in One Lesson – Henry Hazlitt
There is simply no better place to start than the best book on introductory economics ever written. Henry Hazlitt clearly explains the difference between good and bad economists; those that see what a policy does vs those that ask what could have been, or the seen and the unseen. Then he applies the lesson to a vast number of economic situations.
23 Things They Didn’t Tell You About Capitalism – Ha-joon Chang
A series of critiques on capitalism that are certainly worth noting.
Freakonomics – Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
A look at how people respond to incentives in a variety of different situations.
SuperFreakonomics – Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
Freedomnomics – John Lott
A critique of Freakonomics that explains that while people respond to incentives, a free market provides the best incentives.
The Return of Depression Economics – Paul Krugman
I’m not a fan of Paul Krugman, but he gives a decent enough look at how Keynesians think we should respond to a financial crisis.
Profit Over People – Noam Chomsky and Robert McChesney
A critique of neoliberalism and call for more democratic economic system
The Mystery of Capital – Hernando de Soto
A look at global economics that argues secure property rights are the most important thing for the world’s poor.
Liberalism – Ludwig von Mises
A brief defense of the classical liberal system.
In Defense of Global Capitalism – Johan Norberg
A defense of globalization and the rise of capitalism in the third world, which uses an impressive array of statistics to prove the world is getting better.