Best Books to dive into Basic Economics

Lena Haydt
Feb 6 · 5 min read

Working in Product and Tech usually requires knowledge and a basic understanding of Economics. Even if this topic might sound less exciting for you in the first place, we’ve collected some great books that will help you understand the basics of how the economy works but also encourage you to dive deeper into the topic.


Basic Economics

A Common Sense Guide to the Economy
by Thomas Sowell

Why read?

Basic Economics is a citizen’s guide to economics, written for those who want to understand how the economy works but have no interest in jargon or equations. Bestselling economist Thomas Sowell explains the general principles underlying different economic systems: capitalist, socialist, feudal, and so on. In readable language, he shows how to critique economic policies in terms of the incentives they create, rather than the goals they proclaim. With clear explanations of the entire field, from rent control and the rise and fall of businesses to the international balance of payments, this is the first book for anyone who wishes to understand how the economy functions.

704 pages, Basic Books 2014

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Naked Economics

Undressing the Dismal Science
by Charles Wheelan

Why read?

Demystifying buzzwords, laying bare the truths behind oft-quoted numbers, and answering the questions you were always too embarrassed to ask, the breezy Naked Economics gives you the tools to engage with pleasure and confidence in the deeply relevant, not so dismal science.
Wheelan gives you a dee-dive in to hot topics such as automation, trade, income inequality, and America’s rising debt. Ten years after the financial crisis, Naked Economics examines how policymakers managed the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

400 pages, W. W. Norton & Company 2019

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The Value of Everything

Making and Taking in the Global Economy
by Mariana Mazzucato

Why read?

The Value of Everything argues that American companies have for too long been valued according to the amount of wealth they capture for themselves rather than for the value they create for the economy. In fact, Pfizer, Amazon, and other companies are actually dependent on public money, spend their resources on boosting share prices and executive pay, and reap ever-expanding rewards without offering the market value.

384 pages, Penguin 2019

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Built to Last

Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Good to Great)
by Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras

Why read?

Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Collins and Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies — they have an average age of nearly one hundred years and have outperformed the general stock market by a factor of fifteen since 1926 — and studied each company in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day — as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from other companies?”

368 pages, Harper Business 2004

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Blue Ocean Strategy, Expanded Edition

How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant
by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

Why read?

In this perennial bestseller, embraced by organizations and industries worldwide, globally preeminent management thinkers W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne challenge everything you thought you knew about the requirements for strategic success. The authors argue that cutthroat competition results in nothing but a bloody red ocean of rivals fighting over a shrinking profit pool. Based on a study of 150 strategic moves (spanning more than 100 years across 30 industries), the authors argue that lasting success comes not from battling competitors but from creating “blue oceans” — untapped new market spaces ripe for growth.

320 pages, Harvard Business Review Press 2015

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Economic Facts and Fallacies

by Thomas Sowell

Why read?

In Economic Facts and Fallacies, Thomas Sowell exposes some of the most popular fallacies about economic issues in a lively manner that does not require any prior knowledge of economics. These fallacies include many beliefs widely disseminated in the media and by politicians, such as fallacies about urban problems, income differences, male-female economic differences, as well as economic fallacies about academia, about race, and about Third World countries.

Sowell shows that fallacies are not simply crazy ideas but in fact have a certain plausibility that gives them their staying power — and makes careful examination of their flaws both necessary and important.

304 pages, Basic Books 2011

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Zero to One

Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters

Why read?

If you do what has never been done and you can do it better than anybody else, you have a monopoly — and every business is successful exactly insofar as it is a monopoly. But the more you compete, the more you become similar to everyone else. From the tournament of formal schooling to the corporate obsession with outdoing rivals, competition destroys profits for individuals, companies, and society as a whole.

Zero to One is about how to build companies that create new things. It draws on everything Peter Thiel has learned directly as a co-founder of PayPal and Palantir and then an investor in hundreds of startups, including Facebook and SpaceX. The single most powerful pattern Thiel has noticed is that successful people find value in unexpected places, and they do this by thinking about business from first principles instead of formulas. Ask not, what would Mark do? Ask: What valuable company is nobody building?

224 pages, Currency 2014

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Also, we can recommend to check out the free e-books on .


PM Library

Over 200 curated books that everyone who builds products should read

Lena Haydt

Written by

Senior Product Manager @XING, Founder of @PM Library

PM Library

Over 200 curated books that everyone who builds products should read

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