A Twitter correspondent (thank you @alaninbelfast!) has alerted me to the decision by the Cite des Sciences (@citedessciences) to cover economics in a year-long exhibition. He asks, what are the best introductory books for somebody who knows nothing about economics?
There are lots and lots of introductory books available, so where to start is a good question. I’m a huge fan of Tim Harford’s The Undercover Economist, which demonstrates how microeconomics (covering individuals, businesses, and specific markets) is used in a range of everyday contexts, not least because it turned my economics-refusnik teenage son into an economist when he grew up. Tim’s new book, The Undercover Economist Strikes Back is about macroeconomics (the economy as a whole, GDP, inflation and all that jazz). I’ve not read it yet – I’m sure it’s excellent, but macroeconomics itself is in a less solid state than microeconomics.
The Undercover Economist Strikes Back: How to Run or Ruin an Economy
David Smith’s books are all clear and accessible and there is a newish edition of his Free Lunch. John Kay looks more at markets and business – The Truth About Markets and Everlasting Lightbulbs would be good ones to start with. I quite liked too What You Need to Know About Economics by George Buckley and Sumeet Desai. I have to recommend my own The Soulful Science, which is more about the frontiers of economics, the exciting newer developments like behavioural economics.The classic on the history of economic thought is Robert Heilbronner’s The Worldly Philosophers, and it hasn’t yet been bettered for the general or new reader.
The Soulful Science: What Economists Really Do and Why It Matters (Revised Edition)
Geoff Riley of tutor2u provides a long list of recommendations that range from introductions to economics to recent, accessible books that will reward students and newbies.
My recommendations overlap substantially with others I’ve found online- such as this one from Kingsmead Academy for A/AS students, but it also gives the leading textbook titles for anybody who becomes sufficiently interested. And the great new(ish) (non-book) online resource is MR University, terrific stuff there.