The best books on economics and game theory

Who am I?

Avinash Dixit is an emeritus university professor of economics at Princeton. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was President of the American Economic Association for the year 2008.


I wrote...

Book cover of The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life

What is my book about?

To quote Nobel Laureate Paul Samuelson, “To know game theory is to change your lifetime way of thinking.” This book is a popular exposition of that theory, a combination of science and art to improve your strategic skills in interactions and negotiations with business partners and competitors, with family and friends.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets

Avinash Dixit Why did I love this book?

The right thinks markets are the magic solution to all problems; the left thinks they only let the rich exploit the poor. As always, the truth is more subtle. With rich details of how actual markets operate around the world, well grounded in modern economic theory of information and incentives, and written in a beautifully simple and engaging style, McMillan tells it like it is and explains why. If you have time to read only one book on economics, make it this one.

By John McMillan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Reinventing the Bazaar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the wild swings of the stock market to the online auctions of eBay to the unexpected twists of the world's post-Communist economies, markets have suddenly become quite visible. We now have occasion to ask, "What makes these institutions work? How important are they? How can we improve them?"

Taking us on a lively tour of a world we once took for granted, John McMillan offers examples ranging from a camel trading fair in India to the $20 million per day Aalsmeer flower market in the Netherlands to the global trade in AIDS drugs. Eschewing ideology, he shows us that…


Book cover of The Strategy of Conflict

Avinash Dixit Why did I love this book?

This is the book that brought game theory to life. Eschewing dry mathematical theorems, and conducting rigorous logical analysis through rich examples of strategic use of threats, promises, and brinkmanship in real life, Schelling opened up a whole world of practical applications of the theory. My own thinking and writing about game theory owes a huge debt to Schelling. You should also read his “Arms and Influence,” “Micromotives and Macrobehavior,” and “Choice and Consequence.”

By Thomas C. Schelling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Strategy of Conflict as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A series of closely interrelated essays on game theory, this book deals with an area in which progress has been least satisfactory-the situations where there is a common interest as well as conflict between adversaries: negotiations, war and threats of war, criminal deterrence, extortion, tacit bargaining. It proposes enlightening similarities between, for instance, maneuvering in limited war and in a traffic jam; deterring the Russians and one's own children; the modern strategy of terror and the ancient institution of hostages.


Book cover of A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World

Avinash Dixit Why did I love this book?

A brilliant sweep through the millennia of commerce around the world. If you think globalization happened over the last quarter-century, you are wrong by about 5000 years. Find out how and why.

By William J. Bernstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Splendid Exchange as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A sweeping narrative history of world trade—from Sumer in 3000 BC to the firestorm over globalization today—that brilliantly explores trade’s colorful and contentious past and provides fresh insights into social, political, cultural, and economic history, as well as a timely assessment of trade’s future.

Adam Smith wrote that man has an intrinsic “propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another.” But how did trade evolve to the point where we don’t think twice about biting into an apple from the other side of the world?

In A Splendid Exchange, William J. Bernstein tells the extraordinary story of global…


Book cover of Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Avinash Dixit Why did I love this book?

Levitt is a pioneer of, and among the most successful users of, techniques of data analysis to identify causes and effects in economics. This book, based on work that won him the Clark Medal, the economics profession’s premier prize for young researchers, gives us surprising, quirky, and delightful insights into the workings of many economic, political, and social phenomena.

By Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Freakonomics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The legendary bestseller that made millions look at the world in a radically different way returns in a new edition, now including an exclusive discussion between the authors and bestselling professor of psychology Angela Duckworth.

Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? Which should be feared more: snakes or french fries? Why do sumo wrestlers cheat? In this groundbreaking book, leading economist Steven Levitt—Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and winner of the American Economic Association’s John Bates Clark medal for the economist under 40 who has made the greatest contribution to the discipline—reveals that…


Book cover of Where Are the Customers' Yachts? Or a Good Hard Look at Wall Street

Avinash Dixit Why did I love this book?

Many financial advisers and brokers own yachts while most of their clients struggle to afford clunker cars. This book tells us why. Its exposures are just as valid today, and the writing just as hilarious to read.

By Fred Schwed,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Where Are the Customers' Yachts? Or a Good Hard Look at Wall Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Once I picked it up I did not put it down until I finished...What Schwed has done is capture fully-in deceptively clean language - the lunacy at the heart of the investment business' - From the Foreword by Michael Lewis, Bestselling author of "Liar's Poker". '...one of the funniest books ever written about Wall Street' - Jane Bryant Quinn, "The Washington Post". 'How great to have a reissue of a hilarious classic that proves the more things change the more they stay the same. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent' - Michael Bloomberg. 'It's amazing how…


You might also like...

The Model Spy: Based on the True Story of Toto Koopman’s World War II Ventures

By Maryka Biaggio,

Book cover of The Model Spy: Based on the True Story of Toto Koopman’s World War II Ventures

Maryka Biaggio Author Of The Model Spy: Based on the True Story of Toto Koopman’s World War II Ventures

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Historical fiction author Lover of hidden stories Research nerd Opera fanatic

Maryka's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The Model Spy is based on the true story of Toto Koopman, who spied for the Allies and Italian Resistance during World War II.

Largely unknown today, Toto was arguably the first woman to spy for the British Intelligence Service. Operating in the hotbed of Mussolini's Italy, she courted danger every step of the way. As the war entered its final stages, she faced off against the most brutal of forces—Germany's Intelligence Service, the Abwehr.

The Model Spy: Based on the True Story of Toto Koopman’s World War II Ventures

By Maryka Biaggio,

What is this book about?

Celebrated model Toto Koopman had beauty, brains, and fame. Born to a Dutch father and Indonesian mother, she took up the life of a bon vivant in 1920s Paris and modeled for Vogue magazine and Coco Chanel. But modeling didn’t satisfy her. Fluent in six languages, she was adventurous and fascinated by world politics.

In London she attracted the attention of Lord Beaverbrook, the William Randolph Hearst of England. She soon became his confidante, companion, and translator, traversing the Continent and finding herself caught in the winds of impending war. Beaverbrook introduced her to influential people, including a director at…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in game theory, Wall Street, and negotiation?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about game theory, Wall Street, and negotiation.

Game Theory Explore 41 books about game theory
Wall Street Explore 21 books about Wall Street
Negotiation Explore 26 books about negotiation