Holiday Reading, One Last Time
By Amy Willis
We hope you’ve enjoyed the sharing of holiday season reading from our many contributors. Maybe you’ve made that nightstand pile a little higher… I know I have! Here’s our last installment for now… So keep on reading, and we hope you’ll join us in an #EconlibReads discussion-live or online- sometime in this new year.
What am I Reading This Holiday Season? (Steven Horwitz, Ball State University)
I’m often reading multiple books at once. And like the problem I have with cups of coffee, I don’t always finish them. Sometimes that’s because I forget I started them! In any case, here’s five books, spanning my various interests, that I hope to read over the next few weeks. With a trip to Europe coming up, I will have some prime airplane reading time.
Deirdre McCloskey, Why Liberalism Works. I’ve actually started this one, and apparently remembered that I have, and it’s quite good so far. It’s a collection of some previous material and some new things, all of which present a pretty comprehensive case for liberalism by one of the treasures of the economics profession. Plus it’s much shorter than any of the Bourgeois Virtues trilogy. (P.S. We will be hosting a Virtual Reading Group on this book on Tuesday afternoons in January… Registration will open on Monday.)
Janek Wasserman, The Marginal Revolutionaries: How Austrian Economists Fought the War of Ideas. This book is a history of the Austrian school of economics from Menger onward as told by someone outside of economics and who is not especially sympathetic to liberalism. That said, from my quick look at it and some email correspondence he and I had awhile back, I expect a pretty fair treatment. He is certainly not Nancy MacLean.
Jason Kuznicki, Technology and the End of Authority. I read an early draft of Jason’s book and loved much of it. I think it has evolved quite a bit since then, and I’m excited to read the final version. His central argument is that the state doesn’t perform the tasks it takes on very well and that almost all of them can be done else-wise, especially in a world of advancing technology. I am also grateful for the big sale at Palgrave for enabling me to get this for $9.99, not to mention the ton of my own book that got bought at that price!
Rich Cohen, Tough Jews. This was a gift from my brother-in-law that I keep meaning to get around to and will go on my list for this season. A book on Jewish gangsters just taps into so many things I find interesting. I really need to make the time for this one.
Robert Freedman, Rush: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Excellence. Yeah, yeah, how predictable is this? But a book that tries to show that Rush are really “Aristotelian individualists” immediately piques my curiosity. Plus, I do think that the idea of the “pursuit of excellence” is one that permeates both their lyrics and their own careers as musicians. It’s why they have always been role models for me as a professional. I suspect the argument will be underwhelming, but I miss those three guys and any chance to read or listen to something new from or about them is to be seized upon.
What am I Reading This Holiday Season? (Alice Temnick, United Nations International School)
I carefully choose my holiday reading in advance so I can look forward to the cozy, dark evenings of winter break. Deirdre McCloskey’s Why Liberalism Works – How True Liberal Values Produce, a Freer, More Equal, Prosperous World For All is top of the list because of the impact the Bourgeois trilogy has had on my teaching. Ideas and rhetoric matter! The table of contents of her latest work lists 50 enticing topics that she will undoubtedly unfold with her signature humor and brilliance. In All Fairness – Equality, Liberty and the Quest for Human Dignity, Whaples, Munger and Coyne is an Independent Insitute recent publication. This collection includes chapters from a number of familiar and new (to me) authors. My third choice continues my quest of finally conquering great 19th-century literature. George Eliot’s Middlemarch was my end of 2019 novel choice; I’ll now savor Persuasion as my friend and admirable English literature professor Caroline Breashears positively glows when describing this Jane Austen novel. (P.S. In February, our sister site AdamSmithWorks will host a Virtual Reading Group on Smith and Austen, led by Professor Breashears.)
What am I Reading This Holiday Season? (Jayme Lemke, Mercatus Center at George Mason University)
A few of the books on my holiday reading list… First, I’m looking forward to reading Israel Kirzner’s Ludwig von Mises: The Man and His Economics. This volume completes the 10 volume set of Kirzner’s collected works. Kirzner’s insights on markets and on the history of economic thought are clear and focused, and I’m looking forward to the same from this final installment. Second, I’ll be reading Viviana Zelizer’s Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy. I picked up the volume when Zelizer visited the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics earlier this year to deliver a lecture on “Why and How Do Social Relations Matter for Economic Lives?” for the Ostrom Speaker Series. So far I’ve found her essays to be full of fascinating observations on how money, economic activity, and our ideas about the same can shape our social worlds in profound ways, and I’m looking forward to finishing the volume. Third, I’ll be reading Hannah Arendt’s Crises of the Republic: Lying in Politics; Civil Disobedience; On Violence; and Thoughts on Politics and Revolution. Something about that just feels like the right way to wrap up 2019.
Finally, I can’t say they’re on my reading list because I’ve already devoured them, but Virgil Henry Storr and Ginny Seung Choi’s Do Markets Corrupt our Morals? and Bryan Caplan and Zach Weinersmith’s Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration topped my Christmas shopping list this year. They are great, easy, entertaining reads on topics of great importance. And I can attest that they look great topped with a big red bow! Glitter optional.
P.S. Look for more content from Dr. Lemke coming soon to EconLog!