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Essential Reading: Economics Books

Economics is a social science that studies the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. We have focused on introductory economics texts; with the final entries covering some of the principal schools of economic thought. As for any area of knowledge or interest it’s important to find your own materials, and more importantly, your own reasons for learning the discipline.

“Economics is a science of thinking in terms of models joined to the art of choosing models which are relevant to the contemporary world.” ― John Maynard Keynes.


Economics in One Lesson

by Henry Hazlitt | Amazon Edition

Hazlitt’s focus on non-governmental solutions, strong — and strongly reasoned — anti-deficit position, and general emphasis on free markets, economic liberty of individuals, and the dangers of government intervention make Economics in One Lesson, every bit as relevant and valuable today as it has been since publication.

A Little History of Economics 

by Niall Kishtainy | Amazon Edition

Economic historian Niall Kishtainy organizes short, chronological chapters that center on big ideas and events. He recounts the contributions of key thinkers including Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and others, while examining topics ranging from the invention of money and the rise of agrarianism to the Great Depression, entrepreneurship, environmental destruction, inequality, and behavioral economics.

23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism

by Ha-Joon Chang | Amazon Edition

Chang, the author of the international bestseller Bad Samaritans, is one of the world’s most respected economists, a voice of sanity-and wit-in the tradition of John Kenneth Galbraith and Joseph Stiglitz. 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism equips readers with an understanding of how global capitalism works-and doesn’t.


by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner | Amazon Edition

Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and co-author Stephen J. Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives — how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing.


by Joseph E. Stiglitz, Carl E. Walsh | Amazon Edition

Economics offers an introductory approach, integrating contemporary economics into the traditional curriculum. This revised edition places an emphasis on the internet economy and information technology.


by N. Gregory Mankiw | Amazon Edition

Economics offers an introductory approach, integrating contemporary economics into the traditional curriculum. This revised edition places an emphasis on the internet economy and information technology.


by Paul A Samuelson William D Nordhaus | Amazon Edition

Samuelson’s text was first published in 1948, and it immediately became the authority for the principles of economics courses. The book continues to be the standard-bearer for principles courses, and this revision continues to be a clear, accurate, and interesting introduction to modern economics principles.

Principles of Economics

by N. Gregory Mankiw | Amazon Edition

In writing this textbook, Mankiw has tried to put himself in the position of someone seeing economics for the first time. The author’s conversational writing style presents the politics and science of economic theories to tomorrow’s decision-makers.

The Wealth of Nations

by Adam Smith | Amazon Edition

An Inquiry into the Nature & Causes of the Wealth of Nations influenced a broad range of thinkers from David Ricardo to Karl Marx. Smith stresses the importance of the division of labor to economic progress. Opposing mercantilist monopolism, he offers a theoretical & historical case for free trade.

Lords of Finance

by Liaquiat Ahmed | Amazon Edition

With penetrating insights for today, this vital history of the world economic collapse of the late 1920s offers unforgettable portraits of the four men whose personal and professional actions as heads of their respective central banks changed the course of the twentieth century.

Capitalism and Freedom

by Milton Friedman | Amazon Edition

How can we benefit from the promise of government while avoiding the threat it poses to individual freedom? In this classic book, Milton Friedman provides the definitive statement of his immensely influential economic philosophy—one in which competitive capitalism serves as both a device for achieving economic freedom and a necessary condition for political freedom.

The Worldly Philosophers

by Robert L. Heilbroner | Amazon Edition

In this seventh edition, Robert L. Heilbroner provides a new theme that connects thinkers as diverse as Adam Smith and Karl Marx. The theme is the common focus of their highly varied ideas—namely, the search to understand how a capitalist society works. It is a focus never more needed than in this age of confusing economic headlines.

The Road to Serfdom

by Friedrich A. Hayek | Amazon Edition

A classic work in political philosophy, intellectual and cultural history, and economics, The Road to Serfdom has inspired and infuriated politicians, scholars, and general readers for half a century. For F. A. Hayek, the collectivist idea of empowering government with increasing economic control would inevitably lead not to a utopia but to the horrors of nazi Germany and fascist Italy.

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

by Max Weber | Amazon Edition

The Protestant ethic — a moral code stressing hard work, rigorous self-discipline, and the organization of one’s life in the service of God — was made famous by sociologist and political economist Max Weber.

Das Kapital (Capital, Volume I: The Process of Production of Capital)

by Karl Marx | Amazon Edition

Das Kapital, Karl Marx’s seminal work, is the book that above all others formed the twentieth century. From Kapital sprung the economic and political systems that at one time dominated half the earth and for nearly a century kept the world on the brink of war. If you have momentum, the “forgotten” second volume of Das Kapital (Capital, Volume II: The Process of Circulation of Capital), contains the vital discussion of commodity, the cornerstone to Marx’s theories.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century

by Thomas Picketty | Amazon Edition

Thomas Piketty analyzes a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century, to uncover key economic and social patterns. His findings will transform debate and set the agenda for the next generation of thought about wealth and inequality.


“The production of too many useful things results in too many useless people.” ― Karl Marx.

If you are keen on learning more about economics as a discipline do consider: