10 Best Economic Books: Must Read Books For Students

If you are looking for a list of the best economic books, consider these best titles to add to your reading list!

Are you looking for a way to learn more about economics? In that case, plenty of excellent books can teach you basic to advanced economics. It can be challenging to understand the history of economic growth, how a state-run political economy differs from a free economy, and why a financial crisis might occur, but by reading the books listed below, you can quickly grasp the fundamentals of economics.

We have recommended titles covering everything from basic economics for beginners to deep dives into the Great Depression.

1. Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman

Best Economic Books: Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
nrkbeta, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

As humans, we have two ways that we make decisions. One system is fast, and the other system is slow. It drives every decision we make, including what we eat for breakfast in the morning and how we behave when we go to work. When it comes to money, it is important to use both of these systems, but also to avoid common mistakes. Thinking Fast and Slow teaches you how to do that.

If you want to improve your ability to manage your finances, you need to learn more about your psychology. That is what this book will teach you. It comes from the mind of Daniel Kahneman, a professional psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in economics. 

“The psychologist, Paul Rozin, an expert on disgust, observed that a single cockroach will completely wreck the appeal of a bowl of cherries, but a cherry will do nothing at all for a bowl of cockroaches.”

Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
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Thinking, Fast and Slow
  • A good option for a Book Lover
  • It comes with proper packaging
  • Ideal for Gifting
  • Kahneman, Daniel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

2. Factfulness, by Hans, Anna, and Ola Rosling

Factfulness seeks to bust the myth that we, as a world, are not in a good place. Even though there are a lot of people who believe the world is headed in the wrong direction. The book argues that we are in a better place than many believe. This book became a best-seller on the New York Times list because it provides tremendous economic and social information. It also looks closely at why we generally have a negative perspective on the world. The information shows that we, as a world, have made more global economic progress than we think. 

“Forming your worldview by relying on the media would be like forming your view about me by looking only at a picture of my foot.”

Hans, Anna, and Ola Rosling, Factfulness
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Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think
  • “One of the most important books I’ve ever read―an indispensable guide to thinking clearly about the world.” – Bill Gates
  • “Hans Rosling tells the story of ‘the secret silent miracle of human progress’ as only he can. But Factfulness does much more than that. It also explains why progress is so often secret and silent and teaches readers how to see it clearly.” ―Melinda Gates
  • Factfulness: The stress-reducing habit of only carrying opinions for which you have strong supporting facts.
  • When asked simple questions about global trends―what percentage of the world’s population live in poverty; why the world’s population is increasing; how many girls finish school―we systematically get the answers wrong. So wrong that a chimpanzee choosing answers at random will consistently outguess teachers, journalists, Nobel laureates, and investment bankers.
  • Hardcover Book

3. The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith

If you are looking for one of the most outstanding books on economics ever written, then you will want to pick up The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Adam Smith was a world-renowned Scottish economist. Even though this book was written hundreds of years ago, it remains one of the essential titles in the history of economics.

The book discusses the invisible hand, which drives our needs to fulfill our self-interest, and how it results in societal benefit. Or, at least, that’s how it should be. The division of labor, the idea of a free market, and overall productivity are basic economic principles traced back to this book. Consider learning more about these topics for yourself. 

“It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, cloath and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged.”

Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations
The Wealth of Nations
  • Smith, Adam (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 692 Pages - 10/27/2009 (Publication Date) - Thrifty Books (Publisher)

4. The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations, by Jacob Soll

This is an epic novel on why nations grow and collapse by Jacob Soll. The Reckoning charts the growth of the modern economy as we know it. He starts during the time of the Medici family in modern Italy and traces some of the most critical events in human history. You will learn about expert accounting, why the French Revolution happened, and why we experienced a massive recession in 2008. The book also dives into the importance of financial transparency at the government level. It is a political and social history of economics over time.

“Citizens and investors, in turn, cannot have confidence in multinational businesses or, indeed, their governments, when their auditing firms and public agencies seem so powerless to obtain accurate numbers.”

Jacob Soll, The Reckoning 
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The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations
  • Hardcover Book
  • Soll, Jacob (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 312 Pages - 04/29/2014 (Publication Date) - Basic Books (Publisher)

5. Good Economics for Hard Times, by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo

Are you curious to learn more about why economics matters? Then you will want to read Good Economics for Hard Times. While economics might seem like a dismal science to some people, it is crucial. According to the authors, both economists at MIT, the economy is the major driving factor behind some of the most critical issues of our time.

A few examples include inequality, immigration, climate change, and globalization. Moreover, the decision-making behind the economy is critical because, just as the economy might be responsible for some of the problems we have today, it could also be the solution when it is run properly. This book will give you an inside look at why that might be the case. 

“What is dangerous is not making mistakes, but to be so enamored of one’s point of view that one does not let facts get in the way. To make progress, we have to constantly go back to the facts, acknowledge our errors, and move”

Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo, Good Economics for Hard Times
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Good Economics for Hard Times
  • Hardcover Book
  • Banerjee, Abhijit V. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 11/12/2019 (Publication Date) - PublicAffairs (Publisher)

6. Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty

Capital in the 21st Century, by Thomas Piketty, is an excellent book that takes a closer look at how income inequality has risen in his country. The book has been listed as a best-seller by the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and it won the award for the best book of the year from the Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book lists. It looks at wealth inequality in the United States and Europe. It also looks at the damage income inequality can create in a country.

Essentially, the book argues that if the rate of return in a country is greater than the rate at which the economy is growing, wealth and income inequality will continue to grow. If you want to learn more about how income inequality in America has grown, you will want to try this book. 

“United States… on the one hand this is a country of egalitarian promise, a land of opportunity for millions of immigrants of modest background; on the other hand it is a land of extremely brutal inequality, especially in relation to race.”

Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century
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Capital in the Twenty-First Century
  • Capitalism, Economics
  • Piketty, Thomas (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 816 Pages - 08/14/2017 (Publication Date) - Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press (Publisher)

7. Freakonomics, Steven Levitt, and Stephen Duber

If you are looking for an exceptional book on microeconomics, then you will want to take a closer look at Freakonomics, by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. This book was a massive hit when it was published and is still popular today. It answers some of the most popular questions people have about basic finances, but it looks at those questions from an economist’s perspective.

Some of the questions the book poses are a bit unusual, but they are all relevant to how we, as a people, make decisions based on incentives. If you want to learn more about why you might make monetary decisions the way you do, consider taking a closer look at this book. 

“Social scientists sometimes talk about the concept of “identity.” It is the idea that you have a particular vision of the kind of person you are, and you feel awful when you do things that are out of line with that vision.”

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen Duber, Freakonomics
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
  • Freakonomics
  • Economist
  • Everything
  • Levitt, Steven D. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

8. Common Sense Economics, by James Gwartney, Richard L. Stroup, and Dwight R. Lee

If you are interested in learning about the basics of economics, you will want to read Common Sense Economics. The basic premise is that the economy’s job is to distribute wealth evenly and fairly. Then, this book dives into a few essential topics, such as private ownership (versus state-run ownership), free trade, liberalism, and supply and demand. It also describes why understanding the basics of economics is so important.

Even though this might not be the best book for someone who has already gone to business school, it is an exceptional title for people who would like to learn more about why countries make the decisions the way they do and why institutions like the Federal Reserve are so important. 

“We are a nation of economic illiterates. As a result, we are easily misled by leaders who tell us of their good intentions–their passion to solve our problems. Our democracy puts voters in charge of choosing our policy makers, so the consequences of economic illiteracy can be disastrous.”

Gwartney, Stroup, and lee, Common Sense Economics
Common Sense Economics: What Everyone Should Know About Wealth and Prosperity
  • Hardcover Book
  • Gwartney, James D. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages - 02/01/2005 (Publication Date) - St. Martin's Press (Publisher)

9. The Road To Serfdom, by F. A. Hayek

Best Economic Books: The Road To Serfdom, by F. A. Hayek
The original uploader was DickClarkMises at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Road to Serfdom, by F. A. Hayek is one of the older titles on this list, but it remains one of the most popular economics books. Even though it was controversial when it was published at the time, it has become more popular over time and has been published in more than 20 languages.

Essentially, the book argues against an economy completely run by the state, such as Russia. Hayek argues that an economy run by the state will lead a country to the brink of economic ruin, which could be the nation’s end. The book details why economies need to be run by the people, not the government. Now, this book is one of the most popular books on economics ever, and it is still read by people worldwide.

“Although we had been warned by some of the greatest political thinkers of the nineteenth century, by Tocqueville and Lord Acton, that socialism means slavery, we have steadily moved in the direction of socialism.”

Friedrich Hayek, The Road To Serfdom
The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition (The Collected Works of F. A. Hayek, Volume 2)
  • EDITOR HAS STANDARDIZED AND CORRECTED AUTHOR'S REFERENCES AND ADDED HELPFUL EXPLANATORY NOTES.
  • Hayek, F. A. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 283 Pages - 03/30/2007 (Publication Date) - University of Chicago Press (Publisher)

10. Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics, by Richard H. Thaler

Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics, by Richard Thaler, seeks to take classic economic theory and turn it upside down. Even though there is a common belief that the economy is based on rational actors’ ideas, Thaler argues it is not the case. He states that humans are often prone to emotional decisions, which means many decisions they make are not rational. He uses this premise to track the rise and fall of the economy, using several examples. Then, he uses this information to teach people how to make proper money management decisions.

He is a professor at the University of Chicago and a research assistant for the National Bureau of Economic Research, so he has the credentials and experience to back up his claims. You may want to read this book to get an unconventional look at how a professional analyze the economy. 

“Of course, coaches are Humans. They tend to do things the way they have always been done, because those decisions will not be second-guessed by the boss. As Keynes noted, following the conventional wisdom keeps you from getting fired.”

Richard H. Thaler, Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics
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Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics
  • W W Norton Co Inc
  • Thaler, Richard H. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 432 Pages - 06/14/2016 (Publication Date) - W. W. Norton & Company (Publisher)

Interested in learning more? Check out our round-up of the best audiobooks about business!

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