Holiday Reading Roundup
By Amy Willis
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to some long winter days of snuggling up with my cats and some tea and catching up on some reading. I shared some of my own holiday reading with our friends at Law Liberty. Then I asked some of Econlib’s fab contributors what they were looking forward to reading over the holiday break. Here’s what they said:
Mike Munger, Duke University
Some of what I read is driven by book reviews I have agreed to do. But then I do book reviews so that I can read books I might not otherwise look at. In alphabetical order of the author’s last name, here’s what I’ve been reading for the past two months:
A new and very interesting set of essays in Julio Cole (ed.), A Companion to Milton Friedman (School of Economic Sciences, UFM). Then, for some reason, a lot of books with “S” name authors: Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game (Penguin); Anja Shortland, Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business (Princeton); Adam Smith and Bruce Yandle, Bootleggers and Baptists (Cato); V.H. Storr and G.S. Choi, Do Markets Corrupt Our Morals? (Palgrave); and Cass Sunstein, On Freedom (Princeton).
Finally, an oldie but very goodie I had missed, a book that has aged very well: Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (2008, Penguin). Of the new books, the two that will likely be the biggest payoff are the Shortland book, and the Sunstein book. The first illustrates how well, and the second how badly, a smart person can illuminate an important topic by writing a book about it.
Editor’s note: There’s an EconTalk for a lot of that:
Donald J. Boudreaux, George Mason University
Five New Books that Celebrate – and Reinforce – Liberalism
Treat yourself this holiday season: read well. Start with Deirdre McCloskey’s Why Liberalism Works. McCloskey makes a spirited case for an open, innovative, and (truly) liberal society. She not only busts myths peddled by conservatives and progressives – her chapters on Thomas Piketty alone are worth thrice the book’s price – she also supplies a stream of fascinating nuggets from history. (Yep, there are EconTalks for this: Check out McCloskey on Capitalism and the Bourgeois Virtues and Piketty an Inequality and Capital in the 21st Century.)
Every bit as engaging is George Will’s The Conservative Sensibility. What Will calls “conservative” is pretty much what McCloskey calls “liberal.” (I, too, prefer “liberal.”) Will’s book is a genuine tour de force, exploring deeply America’s history, economy, politics, and culture. This isn’t the standard-issue big-think tome penned by a famous pundit. George Will here again proves that he’s a serious scholar. (You guessed it: here’s George Will on the Conservative Sensibility on EconTalk.)
Cuddle-up also – with pencil ready to mark important passages – my colleagues Virgil Storr’s and Ginny Choi’s Do Markets Corrupt Our Morals?. With conservatives today competing against Progressives at accusing markets of failing in ways too many to count, Virgil and Ginny reveal that markets – their outcomes, processes, and cultural and institutional foundation – civilize us and promote excellent morals.
I’m especially fond of myth-busting books, so I close by recommending two others published in 2019: Bryan Caplan’s and Zach Weinersmith’s illustrated Open Borders and Tyler Cowen’s Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero. (Mmm hmmm… See also Tyler Cowen on Big Business at EconTalk.)