Pre-university reading lists

Today was the day all A level candidates in the UK learned whether their grades were good enough to get into their chosen university. My son the genius did well enough and so has turned with enthusiasm to the reading list he was recently sent by his tutors at Jesus College, Oxford.

The economics section starts with the textbook, Begg, Fischer and Dornbusch. There are two alternative mathematics texts: Anthony and Biggs, Mathematics for Economics and Finance, and Jacques, Mathematics for Economics and Business. And two more general reads, Barber's History of Economic Thought and Chris Huhne's Real World Economics.

It set me thinking about whether there were other books on my shelves – or out there in the world – which would be good preparation. Aforementioned son has read Tim Harford's Undercover Economist and of course Freakonomics (although naturally turns his nose up at my Sex, Drugs and Economics and The Soulful Science). The Worldy Philosophers strikes me as a good alternative to Barber.

My own pre-Oxford reading list 30-ish years ago had Roy Harrod's biography  of Keynes – overtaken now by the Skidelsky Keynes, but we only have the 3 volume edition which will certainly put an 18 year old off. However, the one-volume version would surely be a good addition. I also incline towards adding some of Keynes's own essays to the pile, as innoculation against the dreary style in which many academics are forced to write now – Essays in Persuasion, maybe.

I will be careful not to overdo it. But what else would readers suggest to turn a newby who didn't study economics at high school into an enthusiast?

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One thought on “Pre-university reading lists

  1. Being myself 18 years old and going to university next year I would recommend these:
    Reinventing the Bazaar: The Natural History of Markets – John McMillan
    The great Crash: 1929 – John Kenneth Galbraith
    Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life – Len Fisher
    Capitalism and Freedom – Milton Friedman
    The Affluent Society – John Kenneth Galbraith (difficult to get through but still very important)
    I read The Worldly Philosophers a few months ago and I second the recommendation.
    Also, I am currently reading The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek, which is just fantastic.
    Next on my list is A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel.
    Now that I think about it, 1984 and Brave New World should be on that list also as they really piqued my interest in economics in the first place.

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