Category: Book Recommendations

Greg Mankiw Recommends Reading These 18 Economics Books

If you’d like to read more about economics issues try these 18 books recommended by Greg Mankiw, author of Principles of Economics.

The Cartoon Introduction to Economics

Basic economic principles, with humor.

Spin-Free Economics

A straightforward guide to major economic policy debates.

Lives of the Laureates

Twenty-three winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics offer autobiographical essays about their life and work.

The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Politics

An economist asks why elected leaders often fail to follow the policies that economists recommend.

The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It

A former research director at the World Bank offers his insights into how to help the world’s poor.

Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life

This introduction to game theory discusses how all people—from corporate executives to criminals under arrest—should and do make strategic decisions.

The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics

A former World Bank economist examines that many attempts to help the world’s poorest nations and why these attempts have so often failed.

Capitalism and Freedom

In this classic book, one of the most important economists of the 20th century argues that society should rely less on the government and more on the free market.

The Worldly Philosophers

A classic introduction to the lives, times, and ideas of the great economic thinkers, including Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and John Maynard Keynes.

Peddling Prosperity

A survey of the evolution of economic ideas and policy, with an emphasis on macroeconomics and international trade.

The Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life

Why does popcorn cost so much at the movie theaters? Steven Landsburg discusses this and other puzzles of economic life.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economics Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Economic principles and clever data analysis applied to a wide range of offbeat topics, including drug dealing, online dating, and sumo wrestling.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

How a few savvy investors managed to make money during the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street

This introduction to stocks, bonds, and financial economics is not a “get rich quick” book, but it might help you get rich slowly.

Reinventing the Bazaar: A Natural History of Markets

A deep and nuanced, yet still very readable, analysis of how society can make the best use of market mechanisms.

Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics

A humorist asks why some nations prosper while others don’t. He answers with a world tour that takes the reader from Albania to the New York Stock Exchange.

Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness

Behavioral economics can help people, as well as companies and governments, make better decisions.

In Fed We Trust

A journalist recounts how the Federal Reserve dealt with the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009.

If you’re a total neophyte, like me, the best place to start is actually Greg’s textbook. That is where this list came from.

6 Must-Read Books To Help Navigate the Workplace

The challenges of climbing the corporate ladder are both fascinating and fluid.

Whether you’re looking to improve your ability to influence or avoid some common pitfalls these books are a great place to start:

1. Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know—and What to Do About Them

“Your number one job is to keep your job,” Shapiro, a former human resources executive, writes in this informed and disillusioned take on the corporate life, so don’t ever “publicly complain, disagree or express a negative view,” take more than one week of vacation at a time, “volunteer,” or “tell anyone what you’re doing.” When asked to do anything, acceptable responses are “sure” and “of course,” always accompanied by a smile. Your dress style “should match as closely as possible the style of those at the top.” Don’t make friends at work-it’s “deadly” to want to be liked. The book reads like a guerilla survival manual for the employment jungle written by a hardened survivor.

2. Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t

Pfeffer claims that intelligence, performance, and likeability alone are not the key to moving up in an organization; instead, he asserts, self promotion, building relationships, cultivating a reputation for control and authority, and perfecting a powerful demeanor are vital drivers of advancement and success.

3. Rework

Seth Godin sums it up best: “This book is short, fast, sharp and ready to make a difference. It takes no prisoners, spares no quarter, and gives you no place to hide, all at the same time….I can’t imagine what possible excuse you can dream up for not buying this book for every single person you work with, right now.”

4. Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions

This book will help you improve your influence. After all, the best ideas sometimes need a little psychological help.

5. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful

Goldsmith, pinpoints 20 bad habits that stifle already successful careers as well as personal goals like succeeding in marriage or as a parent. Most are common behavioral problems, such as speaking when angry, which even the author is prone to do when dealing with a teenage daughter’s belly ring. Though Goldsmith deals with touchy-feely material more typical of a self-help book—such as learning to listen or letting go of the past—his approach to curing self-destructive behavior is much harder-edged. For instance, he does not suggest sensitivity training for those prone to voicing morale-deflating sarcasm. His advice is to stop doing it. To stimulate behavior change, he suggests imposing fines (e.g., $10 for each infraction), asserting that monetary penalties can yield results by lunchtime. While Goldsmith’s advice applies to everyone, the highly successful audience he targets may be the least likely to seek out his book without a direct order from someone higher up. As he points out, they are apt to attribute their success to their bad behavior. Still, that may allow the less successful to gain ground by improving their people skills first.

6. Managing With Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations

The big problem facing managers and their organizations today is one of implementation – how to get things done in a timely and effective way. Problems of implementation are really issues of how to influence behavior, change the course of events, overcome resistance, and get people to do things they would not otherwise do. In a word, power. “Managing with Power” provides an in-depth look at the role of power and influence in organizations. Pfeffer shows convincingly that its effective use is an essential component of strong leadership. With vivid examples, he makes a compelling case for the necessity of power in mobilizing the political support and resources to get things done in any organization. He provides an intriguing look at the personal attributes – such as flexibility, stamina, and a high tolerance for conflict – and the structural factors – such as control of resources, access to information, and formal authority – that can help managers advance organizational goals and achieve individual success.*

9 Harvard Profs share their summer reading list

This is a great way to kick off your summer reading:
Clinical Professor Robert Bordone ’97 has already started on Jonathan Franzen’s novel “Freedom,” a book that is “wonderful for conflict resolution types.” And he is looking forward to the all-new 3rd edition of Professor Emeritus Roger Fisher ’48 and William Ury’s classic, “Getting to Yes.”


Professor Charles Fried will be reading “How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer” by Sarah Bakewell, Fritz Stern’s “Five Germanys I have Known,” and Proust.


Professor Michael Klarman is looking forward to Eric Foner’s “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery,” Christopher Tomlins’ “Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865,” and “Campy: The Two Lives of Roy Campanella” by Neil Lanctot.


Eric Foner’s “The Fiery Trial” also showed up on Professor Kenneth Mack’s (’91) list, along with Manning Marable’s “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” Daniel T. Rodgers’ “Age of Fracture,” and “Beyond the Formalist-Realist Divide: The Role of Politics in Judging” by Brian Z. Tamanaha.


Among Dean Martha Minow’s picks are Antonio Damasio’s “Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain” and Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” (Briggs’ translation).


Professor Mark Roe ’75 will also be reading Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” as well as Ron Chernow’s “Alexander Hamilton.”


Professor Carol Steiker ’86 is looking forward to Seth Stern ’01 and Stephen Wermiel’s “Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion,” Pauline Maier’s “Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution,” Isabel Wilkerson’s “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration,” Avi Steinberg’s memoir of serving as a prison librarian: “Running the Books,” and Israeli novelist David Grossman’s “To the End of the Land.”


For Professor Alan Stone, a rereading of “The Man Without Qualities,” by Robert Musil, “the neglected giant of European literature,” is at the top of his list.


Professor Jeannie Suk ’02 will be reading Siddhartha Mukherjee’s “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” and rereading Marcel Proust’s “A la recherche du temps perdu.”


5 Books To Improve Your Memory

Joshua Foer, the 2006 US memory champion and author of the best-selling book “Moonwalking with Einstein” picks five books about the art of remembering:

The Art of Memory: Frances A. Yates traces the art of memory from its treatment by Greek orators, through its Gothic transformations in the Middle Ages, to the occult forms it took in the Renaissance, and finally to its use in the seventeenth century. This book, the first to relate the art of memory to the history of culture as a whole, was revolutionary when it first appeared and continues to mesmerize readers with its lucid and revelatory insights.

The Book of Memory: Mary Carruthers’s classic study of the training and uses of memory for a variety of purposes in European cultures during the Middle Ages has fundamentally changed the way scholars understand medieval culture.

Memory in Oral Traditions:Long studied by anthropologists, historians, and linguists, oral traditions have provided a wealth of fascinating insights into unique cultural customs that span the history of humankind. In this groundbreaking work, cognitive psychologist David C. Rubin offers for the first time an accessible, comprehensive examination of what such traditions can tell us about the complex inner workings of human memory. Focusing in particular on their three major forms of organization–theme, imagery, and sound pattern–Rubin proposes a model of recall, and uses it to uncover the mechanisms of memory that underlie genres such as counting-out rhymes, ballads, and epics.

Metaphors of Memory: What is memory? Without memory we lose our sense of identity, reasoning, even our ability to perform simple physical tasks. Yet it is elusive and difficult to define, and throughout the ages philosophers and psychologists have used metaphors as a way of understanding it. This fascinating book takes the reader on a guided tour of these metaphors of memory from ancient times to the present day, exploring the way metaphors often derived from the techniques and instruments developed to store information such as wax tablets, books, photography, computers and even the hologram.

The Mind of a Mnemonist: Luria’s essay is a model of lucid presentation and is an altogether convincing description of a man whose whole personality and fate was conditioned by an intellectual idiosyncrasy.


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2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners (Books)

The prize for fiction went to Jennifer Egan for “A Visit From the Goon Squad.” (I’m reading this now.)

Bruce Norris won the award for drama for his play “Clybourne Park.

The history prize went to Eric Foner for “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.”

Ron Chernow won in the biography category for “Washington: A Life.

Zhou Long’s “Madame White Snake” won for music.

Kay Ryan took the prize for poetry for “The Best of It: New and Selected Poems.”

And the award for general nonfiction was awarded to Siddhartha Mukherjee for “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.”

Seminal Books For Each Decade

Tyler Cowen lists the best book each decade since the 1920’s:

1930s: The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck.

1940s: Farewell, My Lovely, by Raymond Chandler.

1950s: Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, with Kerouac’s On the Road as a runner-up.

1960s: Catch-22, by Joseph Heller, with The Bell Jar and Herzog as runners-up.

1970s: This is tough. There is Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions, Stephen King, and even Peter Benchley’s Jaws. I’ll opt for Benchley as a dark horse pick, note that these aren’t my favorites but rather they must be culturally central. Jonathan Livingston Seagull is another option, as this truly is an era of popular literature.

1980s: Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities.

1990s: The Firm, by John Grisham, or Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible. Maybe Brokeback Mountain.

2000s: Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point.