The Enlightened Economist's Books of the Year

The papers have started their lists of recommended books of 2010. Not to be outdone, here are my top tens, one on economics, one on other books. They're all titles I read this year, but some were published earlier. And of course there's nothing systematic or scientific about this selection.

Economics and its hinterland:

1. The Enlightened Economy by Joel Mokyr – authoritative account of why Britain rather than another country was the cradle of the Industrial Revolution.

2. Whoops! by John Lanchester – a novelist's brilliant analysis of the financial crisis.

3. Lords of Finance by Liaquat Ahmed – international monetary policy and banking in the inter-war period, with scary echoes for today

4. This Time Is Different by Carmen Reinhardt and Kenneth Rogoff – meticulous history of financial crises and why they always end in defaults.

5. Taking Economics Seriously by Dean Baker – and why current policies don't, in some surprising areas such as pharmaceutical industry regulation

6. Fault Lines by Raghuram Rajan – the deep political roots of the financial crisis.

7. Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life by Nicholas Phillipson – a new biography which focuses on the Smith of The Moral Sentiments, and his intellectual milieu

8. Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky – full of guru-speak and only one idea, but a good read nevertheless

9. 13 Bankers by Simon Johnson and James Kwak – mild-mannered economics profs get rightly angry about the political power of the banking industry.

10. Ethiopia Since the Famine by Peter Gill – detailed reportage of Ethiopia and thoughtful assessment of the role of the aid business.


The stand-out read of the year was Francis Spufford's Red Plenty. My other top reads were:

1. Hackney, That Rose Red Empire by Iain Sinclair
2. The Unofficial Countryside by Richard Mabey
3. Them and Us by Will Hutton (ok, this could have made it to the economics list)
4. Your Face Tomorrow by Javier Marias
5. My Paper Chase by Harold Evans
6. The Morbid Age by Richard Overy
7. Human Chain by Seamus Heaney
8. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
9. Newton and the Counterfeiter by Thomas Levenson
10. The Glass Room by Simon Mawer

In the papers this weekend, I've read three roundups: The Guardian, The Financial Times, and The Sunday Telegraph. Other links and recommendations welcome!

(This post has been edited)