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Reading In Economics

Richard Hattwick's list:

David Leonhardt's list (published in the New York Times 12/19/07)

In my column this week, I call “Overtreated,” by Shannon Brownlee, the book of the year in economics. The column also mentions a few other books from 2007: “The Age of Turbulence,” by Alan Greenspan; “Falling Behind,” by Robert H. Frank; “Supercapitalism,” by Robert Reich; and “The Bottom Billion,” by Paul Collier.

Below is a longer list of books you might want to look at. It doubtless leaves off some very good books. If you have suggestions, please e-mail me at, and I’ll add to this list.

Tyler Cowen, one of the authors of the popular Marginal Revolution blog, wrote “Discover Your Inner Economist.” Stephen J. Dubner — of Freakonomics fame — called the book “fast, furious, and fun, with great examples of how to apply economic thinking to nontraditional subjects.”

Mr. Frank, a Cornell professor and contributor to The Times’s Sunday Business section, actually wrote two books this year. The other one is “The Economic Naturalist,” based on real-world questions posed over the years by his students. He gave a lecture about the book at Google’s headquarters in July, which you can watch here.

Alan Krueger, a Princeton professor, has done pathbreaking research on why so many terrorists come from middle-class backgrounds. In "What Makes a Terrorist," he presents his argument in full. The Christian Science Monitor called the book a "a concise, accessible argument against the notion that we can defeat terrorism through aid and education."

Gregory Clark’s “Farewell to Alms” is a delightfully written brief economic history of the world, in the words of The Times Book Review. Mr. Clark, an economist at the University of California, Davis, has posted a long selection of other reviews here.

Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic is one of the best health-care writers out there. In his book “Sick,” he travels around the country, exposing the problems with today’s system and offering ideas for reform. “The timing of this book is perfect,” Sally Satel wrote in The Times Book Review.

In “Better,” Atul Gawande – my favorite medical writer today, which isn’t exactly an original opinion – has collected his stories from The New Yorker and elsewhere and added new material, as well. “Better” is, in many ways, an economic book.

Charles McGrath profiled Dr. Gawande in The Times earlier this year.

As for the books mentioned in today’s column:

You can read the first chapter of “Overtreated” here.

My review of Mr. Greenspan’s book is here.

Mr. Frank’s review of Mr. Reich’s book is here.

Robert Frank of The Wall Street Journal called “Falling Behind,” by Cornell’s Robert H. Frank, a “great” book. Confused by all these Robert Franks? Read on

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