The Best Economics Books of All Time

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If you are looking for economics books to read, you will find them here.

In this post, we reviewed eight best economics books of all time highly recommended by experts and readers. Some of the books have proved their importance over decades and even centuries. Nobel Prize winners wrote other books. But all eight will open your eyes to new ideas and theories in economics.

If you are new to economics or unsure what book to pick, read our useful advice at the end of this post. Make sure to consider your level of economics knowledge when you make your choice.

If you want to just get back to studying, get our top choice for economics books here.

Our Top Favorite
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Our Top Runner Up
The Wealth of Nations (Bantam Classics)
Our Top Value Pick
The Affluent Society
Book Title
Thinking, Fast and Slow
The Wealth of Nations
The Affluent Society
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Favorite
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Book Title
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Runner Up
The Wealth of Nations (Bantam Classics)
Book Title
The Wealth of Nations
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Value Pick
The Affluent Society
Book Title
The Affluent Society
Prime Eligible?

Last update: 2021-04-11

Our Favorites for Best Economics Books of All Time

Thinking, Fast and Slowby Daniel Kahneman

Kahneman is a psychologist and 2002 Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences. He achieved a breakthrough saying that humans are irrational in their decision-making and applying other psychological insights to economic theory.

Thinking, Fast and Slowexplains how people make decisions, why people are irrational more than they think they are, and how human minds can be easily fooled. It is the best economics book for students and anyone who wants to learn more about economic psychology and human behavior and believes in self-improving.

Why Choose this Book:

  • It will teach you to make better decisions involving money, avoid being manipulated, and stop worrying about social standards.
  • Anyone interested in marketing must read this book. It will give you an understanding of persuasion and human psychology that you can later apply to be a better marketer.

What Makes this Economic Books of All Time Unique:

  • You don’t need to know anything about economics or psychology to read this book. It is written for general readers.
  • It is not an easy and fun to read text. Kahneman writes about many study cases and stories that show us the flawed nature of humans. Although some readers find the book a little too tedious and detailed and recommend reading a summary or skipping chapters.
On Sale
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Thinking, Fast and Slow
  • Thinking Fast and Slow
  • Kahneman, Daniel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-11


Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Povertyby Abhijit V. Banerjee, Esther Duflo

Being one of the best economic books by an Indian and a French author, this work opens our eyes to the real reasons for poverty in many countries. The authors are Nobel Prize winners in Economics for their innovative experimental approach to reducing global poverty.

Banerjee and Duflo have spent 15 years researching the lives of people in India, Chile, Kenya, Indonesia, and other countries. They analyze the poor people’s psychology and answer questions like why people pay for drugs but refuse free immunizations.

Any general reader without expertise in economics can fully comprehend the studies and economic concepts mentioned in this book.

Why Choose this Book:

  • Most of us don’t know much about real poverty. This book is perfect for anyone seriously interested in how the economy works for poor people. You will find out what we can do to alleviate poverty, why some people can’t spend more than 99 cents a day, why aid organizations are not as productive as we want them to be, why poor people are not successful entrepreneurs, etc.
  • The book raises a significant number of various problems such as hunger, health, education, family size, borrowing and saving money, politics, and corruption, etc. Each issue, its causes, possible solutions, and the outcomes of these solutions in different societies are thoroughly explained.

What Makes this Economic Books of All Time Unique:

  • This book helps to break many clichés and prejudices, which some of us often recognize as accurate, like that poor people are not getting enough calories or can’t save money.
  • The authors don’t state that offered solutions are remedies and will work in every country or region. Yet these solutions are very doable, concrete, and based on the real causes.
On Sale
Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty
Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty
  • PublicAffairs
  • Banerjee, Abhijit V. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-11


Capital in the Twenty-First Centuryby Thomas Piketty

Capital in the Twenty-First Century is an award-winning work and one of the bestselling modern economic books. The book is not just for economists. It is for everyone regardless of the profession because it explains how money has been distributed between different social classes.

Piketty writes about wealth, how we understand it, where it comes from when it can cause problems, and what we need to learn about it. You will also read about economic history, the central banks, and their importance, the creation of Euro, European financial problems, the gold standard and why it is no longer feasible, and much more.

Why Choose this Book:

  • The book is primarily focused on economic inequality, why it is a problem, what it can lead to (World War III!), and possible solutions.
  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a result of decades of work and research across countries and centuries. Piketty writes about capital and its distribution starting as early as the 18th century, analyzes the outcomes of such distribution, and emphasizes the importance of not repeating past mistakes.

What Makes this Economic Books of All Time Unique:

  • Even though anyone can read this book, people with knowledge of micro- and macro-economics will understand it a little deeper. We recommend at least googling these terms and learn about them before you read this book.
  • The author doesn’t judge the rich in terms of morality. He writes about wealth, considering only economic theory.
On Sale
Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Capital in the Twenty-First Century
  • Capitalism, Economics
  • Piketty, Thomas (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-12


Runner Ups for Best Economics Books of All Time

The Wealth of Nationsby Adam Smith

It is one of the best books on the political economy and most quoted economic books in history. Even though it was first published in 1776 and was one of the first economics books describing what builds nations’ wealth, and these concepts remain true to this day.

You will be astonished at how economic principles haven’t changed since the 18th century. Another shocking discovery of The Wealth of Nations’ readers is how many situations Smith predicted.

Kindle version is very affordable, but some readers complain that its formatting is not the best.

Why Choose this Book:

  • Considering the time this book was written, it is relatively easy to read, and the language is clear. The notes and introduction help to comprehend the information in full.
  • You must read this book if you want to understand modern crises, the origin of money, labor division, stock, trade, wages, taxes, banking, benefits of agriculture, a balance between country areas and town inhabitants, and fundamental concepts of the economy in general.

What Makes this Economic Books of All Time Unique:

  • You will learn a lot about the time Smith lived in and concepts that are strange to modern society, such as the feudal system, colonies, and industrialization.
  • The Wealth of Nations is definitely a long-read, but it is structured into five smaller books. Each of them covers different issues of political economy, which makes it a lot easier to comprehend.
On Sale
The Wealth of Nations (Bantam Classics)
The Wealth of Nations (Bantam Classics)
  • The Wealth of Nations
  • Smith, Adam (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-11


The Great Transformationby Karl Polanyi

This work of economy was first published in 1944 by Polanyi, the Hungarian-American political economist. Polanyi analyzes the social and most-importantly economic changes in England brought by the Industrial Revolution.

The author states that we should understand the market and the economic system as interconnected and simultaneous in their development. He is convinced that liberal powers are not capable of controlling the market without socialism.

Polanyi analyses the economic causes of the war between the greatest powers, the gold standard’s failure, and the market’s ability to self-regulate.

Why Choose this Book:

  • The author’s ideas of economic development are based on excellent historical analysis, and Polanyi traces years of the practices of the doctrines he writes about.
  • You will learn a lot about industrialized England, history of dealing with poverty, unemployment, low wages, and other economic problems of that time.

What Makes this Economic Books of All Time Unique:

  • Some people say that the book is difficult to read. But almost everything in it is still relevant, and Polanyi is a new voice different from Adam Smith and Karl Marx. If you liked their works of economy, you should definitely read The Great Transformation to compare their approaches.
  • This book is a mix of history, economic theory, philosophy, and much more. You can rarely find a book with a similar combination of topics.
On Sale
The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time
The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time
  • Beacon Press MA
  • Polanyi, Karl (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-04-11


Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everythingby Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

It is the best economic book for high school students and even younger readers because it’s not one of those typical boring economic theory books.

The book is written by an economist Levitt and a New York Times journalist Dubner. It became a bestseller shortly after the publication as it explains everyday situations and provocative cases in an accessible to a general public way.

If you are interested in a standard economy textbook, then maybe you should pass on this one. But if you want to introduce economics in an exciting way, this book will do a good job.

Why Choose this Book:

  • You will see that applying statistical analysis to various life problems changes your perspective on them. The book shows that if you use microeconomics tools, you can discover fascinating hidden things behind everyday situations that you wouldn’t usually think of.
  • The book is well-structured, easy to comprehend, and written for the audience without any economics knowledge. It does provide you with a lot of statistical data, but of course, you don’t need to remember it.

What Makes this Economic Books of All Time Unique:

  • The book has nothing to do with morality; instead, it analyzes different situations from an economic point. Some people may disapprove of specific conclusions, but Freakonomics explains how the real world works, not the perfect one.
  • It is not centered around one topic. It collects the study of the cases that Levitt finds interesting ranging from the U.S. crime rate to Japanese sumo wrestlers.

Last update: 2021-04-11


Value Picks for Best Economics Books of All Time

The Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith

The book was written by Galbraith, Harvard economist and the U.S. Ambassador to India under the Kennedy administration, and first published in 1958. It was updated in 1998, adding the crises of the 1970s analysis and acknowledging concepts that Galbraith got wrong in the previous editions.

The author believed that the economy ignores problems in society and focuses mainly on wealth. In this book, he writes about public poverty and private wealth in America after WWII and in the 1970s. He critiques Many of his theories can be applied to the crisis of 2008 and the current economic problems.

Why Choose this Book:

  • Galbraith’s language is sophisticated and eloquent but reasonably accessible and clear with wry humor. The book is pleasant to read, which you may not expect from an economic theory book.
  • Experts consider this book still as relevant in terms of wealth in America these days as it was in the 1950s. It is a must-read for economics students and everyone interested in economic theory.

What Makes this Economic Books of All Time Unique:

  • In the book, the author looks at things as they really are instead of studying theories and convincing readers of how things must be to address poverty and other issues.
  • Not only the book covers economic aspects but also historic. Galbraith writes with references to the years of the Great Depression and confrontation between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
On Sale
The Affluent Society
The Affluent Society
  • Galbraith, John Kenneth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 288 Pages - 10/15/1998 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-04-11


The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes

Keynes was a British economist, and his ideas have shaped the theory of macroeconomics. We are almost certain that all economics students are required to read this book. We also recommend it to everyone seriously interested in economic crises.

This work transformed economics from simply analytic and descriptive into policy-oriented. Many experts critique Keynes for his beliefs, while others strongly support him. But his impact on economic theory is unquestionable.

In this book, Keynes analyses what influences the level of employment and labor price. He presents ideas about what should be done to overcome economy collapses.

Why Choose this Book:

  • The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money and its author had a significant influence on many decisions in the U.S. and British economies in the first half of the 20th century. It is still highly influential during crises.
  • Even though the ideas were presented more than 80 years ago, they are still applicable to the present economy. Keynes deserves credit for a deep understanding of social psychology and human nature, factors often forgotten by other economic books’ authors.

What Makes this Economic Books of All Time Unique:

  • The book is hard to read for general readers as it was written for British economists of the 1930s. But it is always on top of most lists of economics books and authors. We recommend getting a book with the introduction by Krugman or A Guide to Keynes by Hansen.
  • This book is truly revolutionary as it has reshaped the economics, especially macroeconomics. Many terms were for the first time mentioned in this work of economics. The term “Keynesian Economics” or “Keynesianism” is used to refer to some macroeconomic theories.

Last update: 2021-04-11


How to Choose the Best Economics Books of All Time for You

You may be overwhelmed looking at the lists of recommended economics books of all time with hundreds of titles. We are here to help choose the best book that will be the most effective in improving your economics knowledge. Before you pick a book, let’s answer these three questions together.

What’s Your Learning Technique?

If you are looking for an economics book, you obviously want to learn something from it. Economics books can be hard to read and comprehend. If you want to remember as much information as possible, we recommend finding and using a learning technique that is most beneficial for you.

Most people think that highlighting and taking notes is good enough. Well, not exactly! This technique is only effective if you combine it with reviewing and reflecting. By that, we mean spending a couple of hours looking through your notes from the very beginning of the book, then think of how you can apply highlighted ideas in life, career, test, etc.

Another great learning tool is to prepare yourself for reading a specific book. Preparation will help you understand and relate to the material. Read about the author, find out why the book topic was so important, listen to an interview with the author, make sure you know what the book is exactly about, try to understand the main concepts and terms used in the book.

If the book was written a long time ago (which is common among economics books), learn more about the times the book was written in or about. Table of contents and index may be helpful if you want to learn more about the book and prepare for reading.

Always stay focused when you read works of economics as some small details you miss may be necessary for a complete understanding of the subject.

What would also be ideal is to find a learning/reading buddy. Discussion is hugely beneficial for the learning process.

Try to pick a book that you can apply your learning technique to or make sure to use the best learning method to maximize your studying efficiency.

Are You Looking for a Particular Topic?

Why are you looking for an economics book? If you already know the topic you want to read about, go to the next question. If you don’t, find an economics topic that seems interesting such as investments, employment, financial markets, overcoming crisis, macro- or microeconomics, the economy of a particular country, a specific event with economic significance, etc.

Start noticing what economics news attracts your attention or what economic questions you want to find answers to. Remember the last economics-related problem you had to solve. Simply look through some books and documentary titles and write down a few topics you like.

If you have no idea what topic to pick, try to gain some general knowledge about economics. Many good books on the market explain the basics.

Do You Have Prior Knowledge or Experience with Economics?

Many economics books will be way too complicated of you don’t know anything about economics. If you don’t have any economics knowledge (and if you do), make sure that you understand what the book is about and that you are familiar with most terms, events, and concepts mentioned by the author.

Look through the table of contents, index, read the introduction, and a few first pages. Experiencing some difficulties reading an economics book is completely normal. But if you are focused on the text and don’t understand what it is about, you may want to pick a more accessible book.

Wrapping Things Up: The Best Economics Books of All Time

In closing, here are the best economics books of all time we evaluated:

Our Top Favorite
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Our Top Runner Up
The Wealth of Nations (Bantam Classics)
Our Top Value Pick
The Affluent Society
Book Title
Thinking, Fast and Slow
The Wealth of Nations
The Affluent Society
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Favorite
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Book Title
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Runner Up
The Wealth of Nations (Bantam Classics)
Book Title
The Wealth of Nations
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Value Pick
The Affluent Society
Book Title
The Affluent Society
Prime Eligible?

Last update: 2021-04-11

We hope you will find the best economics books for students, experts, or general readers with our post’s help. Remember that the more you read, the easier it will be next time to find a perfect book. Before you buy books, read a little about their authors who should always be experts in what they are writing about. Decide what format of the book is right for you: a paperback, ebook, or audiobook.

If you need a little more help with these books, remember that Thinking, Fast and Slowwill help you understand why people are making certain economics-related decisions. Pick Poor Economics to familiarize yourself with how economics works for poor people and to understand their psychology. In Capital in the Twenty-First Century, you will read about wealth, whose hands are the money in, how it affects the economy and some basic economic concepts.

The Wealth of Nations is one of the first economics theory books ever written, and it explains economics in the 18th century and is still relevant today. If you want to know how free market and politics are connected, read The Great Transformation.Freakonomics will teach you to apply statistical analysis to everyday situations to find hidden sides of them (even to Japanese sumo wrestlers).

To learn more about overcoming economic crises, choose The Affluent Society.The General Theory of Employment reshaped macroeconomics and is about what influences employment, labor price, and other financial issues.

Write down other books mentioned in the one you are reading to read them later.

Always pick a book according to your knowledge level and prepare for every book’s reading by looking up additional information.

Did you find this helpful? Then also check out our reviews of the best economic textbooks here.

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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