Stories | May 19, 2011

Five “unexpected” economics books

What are behavioural economist Tim Harford's top five economics books?

How are asset bubbles, globalisation and unionisation are written into an action-adventure story?

Behavioural economist Tim Harford picked five economics books that are "a bit different" for The Browser website. In the website's FiveBooks interview, Harford selected:

  •  Normal Accidents
  • For the Win
  • The Cartoon Introduction to Economics 
  • The Big Short, and 
  • Bad Science.


The economics of gaming
Second book, For the Win, is a fiction book for young adults - far removed from a traditional economics tome. Author Cory Doctorow is a co-founder of website Boing Boing and wrote the adventure-action story about expert computer game players that Harford says conveys economics ideas such as asset bubbles, globalisation and unionisation. "I was very impressed by the way he could take this novel and convey all these economic ideas without slowing the action down," Harford said in the interview.

The sixth book
An author himself, Tim Harford's own books include The Undercover Economist and The Logic of Life. Harford refrained from selecting his own new book, Adapt: Why success always starts with failure, for the FiveBooks list. A detailed review of the book by Tutor2U tells how Adapt examines "the architecture of success in evolutionary environments". It describes several "heroes" who challenged conventional wisdom and responded "flexibly to a changing environment by spending time on the ground, with a worms-eye view rather than seeking to impose strategies from above". The review recommends the book "strongly". 

eZonomics team
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