from the B-school at Carnegie-Mellon. My top three from the list would be David D. Friedman’s Hidden Order, for lively examples and breadth of coverage; Malkiel’s A Random Walk Down Wall Street, for its explanation of how economic theory applies to investment; and Easterly’s The Elusive Quest for Growth for an appreciation of the importance of entrepreneurship and the failure of central planning.

I would not be as quick as Tyler Cowen to scratch Heilbroner off the list. I think that the history of economic thought is difficult to do well, but worth the attempt. Jerry Muller’s The Mind and the Market is my favorite in that genre, but it is much too dull for the average reader to slog through. Heilbroner is more entertaining, although apparently not to Tyler.

Books that I think might deserve to make it on the list (I’m thinking of business school students as the primary target audience): Shapiro and Varian’s Information Rules; Amar Bhide’s The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses; David Cutler’s Your Money or Your Life.