A few weeks ago, my friend Rajesh pointed me to a list titled, “20 Books You Should Read in Your 20s.” I didn’t like the list; some of the books were too heavy for the average 20-something-year old. Certainly, as a specialized reader, a 20-year old could read many of them but not as a general reader.
It occurred to me that lists like that could not be very useful for the general public, anyway. We all have distinct preferences and interests. That implies, list of books have to be tailored to fit the person. I asked myself, what would the list have looked for a 20-something-year old me? Here is that list.
- Our Enemy, the State. Albert Jay Nock. 1935.
- Anarchy, State and Utopia. Robert Nozick. 1974.
- The Fatal Conceit. Friedrich Hayek. 1988.
- The Essential Hayek. Don Boudreaux. 2014.
- Arguments for Liberty. Cato Institute 2016.
- Capitalism and Freedom. Milton Friedman. 1962.
- From Third World to First: The Singapore Story 1965 – 2000. Lee Kuan Yew. 2000.
- Fifty Inventions that Shaped the Modern Economy. Tim Harford. 2017.
- The Machinery of Freedom. David D. Friedman. 1973, 1989, 2014.
- The Great Escape. Angus Deaton. 2013.
- The Ultimate Resource 2. Julian Simon. 1998.
- Micromotives and Macrobehavior. Thomas Schelling. 1978.
- The Human Predicament: A candid guide to life’s biggest questions. David Benatar. 2017.
- The Rational Optimist. Matt Ridley. 2010.
- The Beginning of Infinity. David Deutsch. 2011.
- A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy. Joel Mokyr. 2017.
- The Common Sense of Science. Jacob Bronowski. 1951.
- Cosmos. Carl Sagan. 1980.
- The Selfish Gene. Richard Dawkins. 1976.
- Infinite in All Directions. Freeman Dyson. 1985.
Note however that I could not have read them in my 20’s then since, first of all many (not all) of them were published after I was past my 20s, and second of all, I was not even aware of the discipline called political economy. I was too ignorant. Still here it is, for the record. Although the list is numbered, it is not in any particular order.
Let me know if you wish to borrow any of these from my library. Also, I’d be happy to explain why I consider those books to be of value to me.