Some Books Worth Reading

Today this blog is going to turn a year old. I take this as an opportunity to provide a list of books that have influenced what I am writing here most. You can also see this as a kind of a special edition of my recently launched “Weekly Reading Recommendations”.

So, here they are, books that shaped my thinking on sustainability, economics and related issues (I ordered them chronologically, as I read them):

Aldous Huxley Brave New World (first published 1932) – the book that has changed my world view most; though fictional, its parallels with the modern over-consuming world are striking;

John Ruskin Unto this Last (1862) – my first “economics book”, a severe critique of capitalism, human greed as well as economic theory (written in the middle of the 19th century);

Amartya Sen Development as Freedom (1999) – this is the book that moved me toward economics; it is an impressive plea for the poor and deprived, mixing (as Sen often does) economics and philosophy;

Milovan Đilas New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System (1957) – a thorough inquiry into why communism didn’t work by one of the former leaders of the Yugoslavian communist movement (then dissident under Tito);

Robert Shiller & George Akerlof Animal Spirits (2009) – an implicit attack on the rationality assumption and an inquiry into “how human psychology drives the economy and why it matters for global capitalism” (as the book’s subtitle goes);

Joseph Stiglitz Making Globalization Work (2006) – an analysis of the flaws of economic globalization by the enfant terrible of conventional economics and his suggestions of changes to “make it work”;

Bertrand Schneider The Barefoot Revolution (1985) – an empirical outline of how development may work through grassroots/bottom-up approaches;

Ryszard Kapuściński The Shadow of the Sun (2001) – one of the many books of this author that helped me to understand how poor and deprived societies work;

Herman Daly Beyond Growth (1996) – my first encounter with one of the “fathers” of what is now called ecological economics, and a thorough critique of our growth obsession;

Dani Rodrik The Globalization Paradox (2011) – a highly important analysis questioning the alleged merits of unconstrained economic globalization and showing the trilemma of democracy, “hyperglobalization” and “nation state”;

Stephen DeCanio Economic Models of Climate Change. A Critique (2003) – a step-by-step outline of the flaws of macroeconomic models and their complete inappropriateness for climate change analysis;

Frank Ackerman & Lisa Heinzerling Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing (2004) – a severe critique of conventional economics and decision-making, especially the cost-benefit analysis as applied in fields where no monetary values can be reasonably attached;

Nassim Nicholas Taleb The Black Swan (2007) – a plea for taking into account the uncertainty of the modern world, and a severe critique of the current practice in social sciences to ignore it.

2 thoughts on “Some Books Worth Reading

  1. An interesting list. Sorry to say but the only book I know is the one by Kapuscinski. However, it should be on a different shelf as our world famous author, while having a gift of good writing, described the world of his imagination not the real one .


  2. As far as I know, Kapuscinski indeed wrote something between fact and fiction. However, in this particular book he is supposed to have written the truth, at least about Africa – even if not necessarily about his particular “adventures”.


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