Arnold Kling  

Books of the Year?

The Science of Success... Seeing Like a Central Planner...

Tyler Cowen gives us his list. The only one I have read, Max Hastings' Winston Churchill's War, I found not so interesting. In fact, the 2010 crop of books did not produce many keepers, from my perspective.

Matt Ridley's The Rational Optimist is still at the top of my chart. Clearly, Tyler sees it differently.

I am still only about 1/4 through Kevin Kelly's What Technology Wants, but at this point it is number two. I am not saying you have to buy into his main theme, but there are enough interesting observations to make it worthwhile.

I am going to put All the Devils are Here, the financial crisis book by Joe Nocera and Bethany McLean, at number 3. One of my fantasy dialogues is with someone who asks me why, given that I worked for Freddie Mac, I think that securitization needs to be killed (or government support for it withdrawn, which is the same thing). My answer would be to say "Read this book first, and then let's discuss." I would say the same thing if somebody were to ask me, "What is public choice theory in economics, and why is it important?"

I will add Jed Graham's book on Social Security reform, which I recently reviewed.

Speaking of the budget, I recommend The Long-term Budget Outlook by the Congressional Budget Office.

Overall, I think it was a better year for essays than for books. My guess is that David Brooks, who annually gives his opinion of the best essays, will not have a difficult time producing his list for this year.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (5 to date)
liberty writes:

My book not worthy of mention then? :(

Jody writes:

FWIW Liberty - Rediscovering Fire is on my Christmas list. (I maintain a list of books to read between Christmas and New Years that looked interesting during the year but did not have time to read. This then becomes a suggested gift list for friends and family).

liberty writes:

Thanks, Jody!

BZ writes:

I'm about 2/3 way through The Rational Optimist. It's good, but NOT what I expected, even after listening to the Econtalk podcast. The first half feels like Origin of Species meets Wealth of Nations. The balance (thus far) has been filled with relatively standard economic analysis of a random assortment of "hot" issues. It's been interesting.

Bob McGrew writes:

I have had a hard time finishing the Rational Optimist - fundamentally, I think it's that he's making one big argument, and I agree with it too much to start with.

What Technology Wants I found fascinating on every page. There's less big argument here (although there is one), and more interesting small ideas.

If you like What Technology Wants, you should read Kevin Kelly's blog - there's a lot of similar stuff there that never made it into the book.

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