In two previous posts I described my current project to put together a collection of works of literature that teach economics. Inspired in part by comments to those posts, I now have almost half a book's worth and am looking for more. Here is the current list, not necessarily in what will be the final order:
"Margin of Profit
" by Poul Anderson
“The Verger” by Somerset Maugham
George Orwell, A Review of The Road to Serfdom and The Mirror of the Past
I am considering adding, at Peter Leeson's suggestion,
"The Judgement of Solomon."
It is a well known story but provides a simple illustration of a preference revealing mechanism, although arguably a flawed one.
With a little commentary by me, this would come to about 40,000 words. I am aiming at at least twice that, preferably a little more.
A few comments on what I want:
1. The idea is to teach economic ideas. Economics, to me, isn't the study of the economy, it is the approach to understanding behavior that starts from the assumption that individuals have objectives and tend to take the actions that best achieve them. So the fact that a story describes events in the economy, such as inflation or unemployment, is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition.
2. I am looking for works that teach economics, not works that support my (libertarian, pro-free market) political views.
3. I am looking for works that are good enough literature to be read as such. A story written by an economist to teach economics, such as Hazlitt's Time Will Run Backwards or Murder at the Margin by Marshall Jevons, does not qualify unless it is a good enough story to have survived on its literary merit alone. Ideally, this would be a collection that could be read for pleasure by someone uninterested in economics as well as being used as supplementary reading for discussion in an economics course.
4. I don't want excerpts that read as excerpts. The piece by Alexander Pope is part of a longer work but reads on its own as a complete poem.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, there is a somewhat similar project published in 2003, The Literary Book of Economics by Michael Watt. It is where I discovered the Pope poem, but so far that is the only thing I have found in it that I would want to use. It is not a book that I can easily imagine anyone reading all of for fun, although there are some interesting bits in it.
Suggestions can either be put as comments here or emailed to me.