Would be grateful for suggestions for recent inspiring books to read relevant in a broad sense to the topics of this blog. Some recent books that have made me think include the following (in no particular order). I spent most of my 4-year undergraduate reading books and fit the assignments and exams around that (10 of my favourite books from college here). I want to spend more time in education talking about books and ideas and encouraging students to think broadly. We do a lot of other things in universities but that should surely be up there with the highest priorities!
Deaton's Great Escape is a wonderful book about the history of poverty and development with a lot of thought-provoking material on the measurement of welfare and well-being.
I read Theodore Zeldin's "Hidden Pleasures" recently. Zeldin is not a man for detailed econometric specifications so do not read it expecting p-values but the book is absorbing and has a range of thoughts on how to live a meaningful life and the relationship between human development, business and meaning. His Intimate History of Humanity is also a masterpiece.
Elster's "Explaining Social Behavior More Nuts and Bolts for the Social Sciences" is a book I would happily base a full 4-year undergraduate programme around (new edition released last July). Elster's work in general is widely known but perhaps not as much as it should be. Anyone interested in the type of material we post on this blog should start with this book and then try his other works.
Sunstein's "Why Nudge" digs into the legal and ethical issues involved in using behavioural science in public policy and one of the first works to deal with these issues at length. It is not light-reading but is certainly worth the time for people studying and working on these topics in depth.
O'Grada "Eating People is Wrong: Essays on the History and Future of Famines" is a short but epic account of famines and human development.
Cartwright's "Hunting Causes and Using Them: Approaches in Philosophy and Economics" is the oldest book on the list (2007) but is a book that stimulates deep thinking about causal relationships in social science.
Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" is a runaway best-seller from the main figure in this area in the last 40 years. It is written for a broad audience and is packed with interesting insights into human decision making and welfare.
Atul Gawande's "Being Mortal" is a detailed research and practice driven meditation on economic and technological progress, death and dying.