The most recommended economics books

Who picked these books? Meet our 326 experts.

326 authors created a book list connected to economics, and here are their favorite economics books.
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Book cover of The Marginal Revolutionaries: How Austrian Economists Fought the War of Ideas

Alan Bollard Author Of Economists at War: How a Handful of Economists Helped Win and Lose the World Wars

From my list on how economists agree and disagree amongst each other.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an economics professor at Victoria University of Wellington. As a previous Secretary of the New Zealand Treasury and Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, I have had quite a bit of experience watching economists’ ideas succeed and fail in the real world. I have written a number of books about policy economists and their lives in peace and wartime. (And a couple of novels too!)

Alan's book list on how economists agree and disagree amongst each other

Alan Bollard Why did Alan love this book?

This is a heavier read taking us through a group history of the Austrian School of Economics from the coffee houses of Imperial Vienna to the modern-day Libertarians. Economists such as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Joseph Schumpeter originated ideas that have had a big impact on economics and politics, and have been much debated ever since.

By Janek Wasserman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A group history of the Austrian School of Economics, from the coffeehouses of imperial Vienna to the modern-day Tea Party

The Austrian School of Economics-a movement that has had a vast impact on economics, politics, and society, especially among the American right-is poorly understood by supporters and detractors alike. Defining themselves in opposition to the mainstream, economists such as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Joseph Schumpeter built the School's international reputation with their work on business cycles and monetary theory. Their focus on individualism-and deep antipathy toward socialism-ultimately won them a devoted audience among the upper echelons of business…


Book cover of Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance

William K. Jaeger Author Of Environmental Economics for Tree Huggers and Other Skeptics

From my list on economics is much more than the study of the economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was initially drawn to economics as a way to understand and address global problems of poverty and hunger, like those I saw in Africa with the Peace Corps and later as a researcher. As my interests broadened toward environmental and other social problems, again I found that economics provides valuable insights about their causes and possible solutions. Economics is unfortunately often misunderstood and defined too narrowly: but as a social science, it encompasses a broad framework to comprehend individuals, families, cities, nations. It encompasses philosophical thought, normative questions, and intangibles like humans’ desire for respect. After decades as an economics professor I still find its insights fascinating and powerful.  

William's book list on economics is much more than the study of the economy

William K. Jaeger Why did William love this book?

“Institutions are the rules of the game,” according to Douglas North, economic historian and Nobel Laureate.

Once created, institutions may be changed, but their legacy can be powerful. Economic history is a consequence of a dynamic, sometimes disruptive, process of institutional change, one for which a path to better institutions is not assured.

Exchange involves risks and uncertainty. In centuries past, kinship ties helped reduce uncertainty for exchange in insular communities. As exchange across larger distances expanded to engage with more distant communities, alternatives institutions were needed, such as contracts, laws, courts.

Whether one’s interest is promoting welfare, equity, sustainability, or economic growth (emphasized by North), this conceptual framework of institutional change offers powerful insights about how the world works and why it is organized the way that it is.

By Douglass C. North,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Institutions, Institutional Change and Economic Performance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Continuing his groundbreaking analysis of economic structures, Douglass North develops an analytical framework for explaining the ways in which institutions and institutional change affect the performance of economies, both at a given time and over time. Institutions exist, he argues, due to the uncertainties involved in human interaction; they are the constraints devised to structure that interaction. Yet, institutions vary widely in their consequences for economic performance; some economies develop institutions that produce growth and development, while others develop institutions that produce stagnation. North first explores the nature of institutions and explains the role of transaction and production costs in…


Book cover of The Innovation Delusion: How Our Obsession with the New Has Disrupted the Work That Matters Most

Gemma Milne Author Of Smoke & Mirrors: How Hype Obscures the Future and How to See Past It

From my list on navigate technology hype.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked in and around the tech, science and startup world for the past 10 years, and hype has played various roles in my work and life. From working in advertising where my job was to build narratives around ideas and products, then in journalism where I was tasked with sorting hype from reality when deciding who and what to write about, to now being a researcher who looks into the very nature and power of narratives, ideologies, political economies and cultures around science and technology – hype has been a recurring topic which is so important in understanding and navigating the tech industry. I hope you find these books as enlightening as I have!

Gemma's book list on navigate technology hype

Gemma Milne Why did Gemma love this book?

I loved this book because it not only picks apart the concept of "innovation" and helps you approach its usage across work, media, and everyday life but it also goes into exploring an alternative view – that of "maintenance."

It’s packed full of great examples, provides much-needed clear analysis of things we take for granted (like bridges!), and gives me hope for different ways of approaching how to talk about technology, innovation, and the future.

By Lee Vinsel, Andrew L. Russell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Innovation” is the hottest buzzword in business. But what if our obsession with finding the next big thing has distracted us from the work that matters most?

“The most important book I’ve read in a long time . . . It explains so much about what is wrong with our technology, our economy, and the world, and gives a simple recipe for how to fix it: Focus on understanding what it takes for your products and services to last.”—Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media 

It’s hard to avoid innovation these days. Nearly every product gets marketed as being disruptive, whether…


Book cover of Machine Dreams: Economics Becomes a Cyborg Science

Avner Offer Author Of The Nobel Factor: The Prize in Economics, Social Democracy, and the Market Turn

From my list on the history of economic thought.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a Professor of Economic History at the Oxford University, I taught the history of economic thought and wrote articles and a book in the field (The Nobel Factor). I love the limpid style and encompassing view of the classical economists (the first century after Smith). Their literary and academic styles have been abandoned, but they still have a great deal to teach. The role of land and natural resources as a factor of production in their theory has become relevant again as the environment comes under pressure. I also published in several other fields. My latest book is Understanding the Private-Public Divide: Markets, Governments and Time Horizons (2022). 

Avner's book list on the history of economic thought

Avner Offer Why did Avner love this book?

Read anything by Mirowski. By far the best writer in the field today.

Highly original, massively intelligent, stimulating, witty, deeply informed, a trenchant writer. His life’s work is to probe the validity and scientific pretensions of the discipline.

The critiques are biting, all the more so for the real-world authority wielded by economists. That he is sometimes a provocative maverick adds to the appeal.

Machine Dreams argued implausibly (for its time) that economics had embraced robotic simulation. The emergence of AI shows how far ahead of its time it was.

A better read than most straight economics. 

By Philip Mirowski,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Machine Dreams as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This was the first cross-over book into the history of science written by an historian of economics. It shows how 'history of technology' can be integrated with the history of economic ideas. The analysis combines Cold War history with the history of postwar economics in America and later elsewhere, revealing that the Pax Americana had much to do with abstruse and formal doctrines such as linear programming and game theory. It links the literature on 'cyborg' to economics, an element missing in literature to date. The treatment further calls into question the idea that economics has been immune to postmodern…


Book cover of The Football Business: Fair Game in the '90s?

Stephen Morrow Author Of The People's Game? Football, Finance and Society

From my list on football as a game, as business, and as community.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up I was fanatical about football - playing, watching, reading and talking about it. I was also a little obsessed with its numbers, and apparently liked to recalculate league tables and goal differences in my head as the results came in on the BBC vidiprinter. Fast forward to University in the 1980s - a time when studying football’s business aspects was not common - I wrote my dissertation on the ‘Capital structure of Scottish football’. A Scottish perspective has remained present in much of my work, and I hope it also allows a little more distance when reflecting on the success and challenges faced by football in England.

Stephen's book list on football as a game, as business, and as community

Stephen Morrow Why did Stephen love this book?

David Conn’s book was first released in 1997, just a few years after the inception of the English Premier League.

It was the first critical evaluation of the new business of football, in which he sought to understand what was being lost as the game was transformed into a branch of the entertainment industry, while at the same time accepting the many unarguable benefits that were accompanying that transformation.

Its quality and importance are evidenced by the fact that it has been republished at least five times.

It remains essential reading for anyone who wants to understand more about the opaque world of football finance, governance, and ownership.

By David Conn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In eight years English football has been transformed. In 1989 clubs were banned from Europe and the Hillsborough disaster exposed football's crumbling grounds. Today football is cleaned up and is also big business. Since the Taylor report forced English clubs to spend #600 million rebuilding their grounds, and since Sky and the BBC put #1 billion into the game, serious businessmen have arrived in football, and have mostly been welcomed because of the money they were "investing" into the "long-term health of the game". This book examines the transformation and asks is it still a game or a business?


Book cover of Development as Freedom

William K. Jaeger Author Of Environmental Economics for Tree Huggers and Other Skeptics

From my list on economics is much more than the study of the economy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was initially drawn to economics as a way to understand and address global problems of poverty and hunger, like those I saw in Africa with the Peace Corps and later as a researcher. As my interests broadened toward environmental and other social problems, again I found that economics provides valuable insights about their causes and possible solutions. Economics is unfortunately often misunderstood and defined too narrowly: but as a social science, it encompasses a broad framework to comprehend individuals, families, cities, nations. It encompasses philosophical thought, normative questions, and intangibles like humans’ desire for respect. After decades as an economics professor I still find its insights fascinating and powerful.  

William's book list on economics is much more than the study of the economy

William K. Jaeger Why did William love this book?

The aims of economic development are often said to be higher incomes, industrialization, efficient investment, and poverty alleviation.

Amartya Sen argues for a broader goal: increasing the capability of all human beings to achieve those things that they most value.

Such an agenda implies more ambitious goals for empowering people, especially in poor countries, to begin a process of expanding the real freedoms that people enjoy: education, health care, longevity, and the ability to influence political decisions.

Sen, a Nobel laureate in economics, draws on a lifetime of thought about human predicaments, famines, and poverty, how to define one’s capabilities, and the meaning of one’s ‘standard of living.’

Rather than offering specific recipes, this book provides a provocative framework for thought. 

By Amartya Sen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Development as Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Development as Freedom Amartya Sen quotes the eighteenth century poet William Cowper on freedom:

Freedom has a thousand charms to show,

That slaves howe'er contented, never know.

Sen explains how in a world of unprecedented increase in overall opulence, millions of people living in rich and poor countries are still unfree. Even if they are not technically slaves, they are denied elementary freedom and remain imprisoned in one way or another by economic poverty, social deprivation, political tyranny or cultural authoritarianism. The main purpose of development is to spread freedom and its 'thousand charms' to the unfree citizens.

Freedom,…


Book cover of Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius

Alan Bollard Author Of Economists at War: How a Handful of Economists Helped Win and Lose the World Wars

From my list on how economists agree and disagree amongst each other.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an economics professor at Victoria University of Wellington. As a previous Secretary of the New Zealand Treasury and Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, I have had quite a bit of experience watching economists’ ideas succeed and fail in the real world. I have written a number of books about policy economists and their lives in peace and wartime. (And a couple of novels too!)

Alan's book list on how economists agree and disagree amongst each other

Alan Bollard Why did Alan love this book?

Under the headings of hope, fear, and confidence, Nasar takes us through the lives, the ideas, the failings, and arguments of several dozen economists, in a lively journalistic fashion. From the last chaotic days of Joseph Schumpeter’s failing post-war Vienna to Joan Robinson’s 1950s propaganda trip to Stalin’s Moscow, she gives us an illuminating view of history and what economists did to try to improve it.

By Sylvia Nasar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Grand Pursuit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An instant New York Times bestseller, in a sweeping narrative the author of the esteemed A Beautiful Mind takes us on a journey through modern history with the men and women who changed the lives of every single person on the planet. Grand Pursuit is the epic story of the making of modern economics, of how economics rescued mankind from squalor and deprivation by placing its material fate in its own hands.

A New York Times bestseller, this sweeping narrative from the author of A Beautiful Mind takes us on a journey through modern history with the men and women…


Book cover of Unsustainable Inequalities: Social Justice and the Environment

Alessio Terzi Author Of Growth for Good: Reshaping Capitalism to Save Humanity from Climate Catastrophe

From my list on the relationship between the economy and nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an economist at the European Commission, Adjunct Professor in Paris, former fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and now a first-time author, I thrive at the intersection of academia, think-tanks, and policy-making. My academic soul leads me to seek answers to the big questions: what is economic growth and how does it relate to the success of civilization, to science and technology, to people’s wellbeing, and to nature. My practical focus leads me to draw the policy implications of all this for how we ought to fight climate change. My critics accuse me of being an optimist. I take it as a compliment: the future of humanity is in our hands.

Alessio's book list on the relationship between the economy and nature

Alessio Terzi Why did Alessio love this book?

We intuitively understand that decarbonization and social justice are deeply interwoven as 21st-century challenges.

Dr. Chancel’s book shows us in great detail how this is the case, and therefore why it is important to keep inequalities in mind when designing policies to accelerate the decarbonization of the economy. After all, the poor are also more exposed to the catastrophic events associated with climate change.

But perhaps my greatest takeaway was looking at the problem the other way around, meaning that Chancel also shows us how tackling social inequalities can actually help us address some environmental challenges. 

By Lucas Chancel, Malcolm DeBevoise (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Unsustainable Inequalities as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Financial Times Best Book of the Year

A hardheaded book that confronts and outlines possible solutions to a seemingly intractable problem: that helping the poor often hurts the environment, and vice versa.

Can we fight poverty and inequality while protecting the environment? The challenges are obvious. To rise out of poverty is to consume more resources, almost by definition. And many measures to combat pollution lead to job losses and higher prices that mainly hurt the poor. In Unsustainable Inequalities, economist Lucas Chancel confronts these difficulties head-on, arguing that the goals of social justice and a greener world can…


Book cover of Inside the Olympic Industry: Power, Politics, and Activism

Jacqueline Kennelly Author Of Olympic Exclusions: Youth, Poverty and Social Legacies

From my list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wasn’t really interested in the Olympics until they came knocking at my door. I lived in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics Bid. When a plebiscite was called, the Yes side plastered the city with billboards explaining why everyone should want the Olympics. Simultaneously, a much less resourced but vocal opposition argued that hosting would be an environmental, social, and economic disaster. The two sides were so far apart that my curiosity was piqued. When I began a postdoctoral fellowship in the UK, I realized that they, too, were in the midst of similar debates, as hosts of the 2012 Summer Olympics. From here a research project was born.

Jacqueline's book list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know

Jacqueline Kennelly Why did Jacqueline love this book?

This is the grand-mere of contemporary critical Olympic literature.

Helen Lenskyj was one of the first scholars to draw attention to the problematics of the Games, including human rights abuses, displacement of homeless populations, and elite scandals that ought to send law-abiding citizens running. It continues to be a powerful and relevant read for anyone interested in peeking behind the curtains of the Olympic behemoth.

By Helen Jefferson Lenskyj,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inside the Olympic Industry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Analysis from the perspective of those adversely affected by the social, economic, political, and environmental impacts of hosting an Olympic Games.


Book cover of History of Economic Analysis

Panayotis G. Michaelides Author Of History of Economic Ideas: From Adam Smith to Paul Krugman

From my list on the evolution of economics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Full Professor and Lab Director in Economics. My interest in this field began when I traveled abroad and observed the differences in prices, goods, and quality of life. In order to gain a deeper understanding, I decided to switch from my previous academic background in Engineering, Mathematics & Physics to Economics, Finance & Data Science. Today, I am dedicated to expanding my knowledge and sharing my insights through teaching, academic publications, and LinkedIn posts. According to the latest rankings, I am humbled to be among the top 3% most productive economists worldwide (IDEAS-RePec, 2023), as well as being ranked among the top 4% researchers in Financial Economics, and the top 5% in Econometrics (Researchgate, 2023).

Panayotis' book list on the evolution of economics

Panayotis G. Michaelides Why did Panayotis love this book?

Since my PhD was based on Schumpeter's work, I can confidently state that it is well worth exploring the fascinating world of Economics through one of history's greatest economists.

This masterpiece takes the reader on a journey through every corner of the subject, paying particular attention to even the smallest details. A unique and thought-provoking view of Economics is offered by Schumpeter in his over 1000 pages of brilliant insights.

This book distinguishes itself from others through its deep and unconventional interpretation of Economics. It is a must-read for anyone seeking a thorough understanding of Economics as Schumpeter provides fresh insights on various topics.

However, it would be much better if it covered more recent developments. Enjoy this tour of Economics with Schumpeter and you will never get bored!

By Joseph A Schumpeter, Elizabeth Boody Schumpeter (editor),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked History of Economic Analysis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

At the time of his death in 1950, Joseph Schumpeter--one of the great economists of the first half of the 20th century--was working on his monumental History of Economic Analysis. A complete history of efforts to understand the subject of economics from ancient Greece to the present, this book is an important contribution to the history of ideas as well as to economics. Although never fully completed, it has gained recognition as a modern classic due to its broad scope and original examination of significant historical events. Complete with a new introduction by Mark Perlman, who outlines the structure of…