Bookends About Economics

Economics: A Simple Twist on Normalcy is an approachable introduction to some basic concepts in economics.  The author Kersten Kelly focuses on everyday examples of economics at work in order to make the concepts more relatable for the everyday reader.  Although the book is neither as dry nor as comprehensive as an economics textbook, I think it has the potential to be a good introduction to an economics course in order to get students more interested.

As a book read for fun, I was a little disappointed in the obviousness of some of the examples.  Some of the examples probably only felt obvious because I’ve had an econ class and there are some examples which have become cliches.  However, I think a lot of the examples just involved human purchasing behavior that everyone intuitively understands.  While this could be a good thing in a textbook, I was hoping to come away from this book surprised by at least a few of the counter-intuitive situations that economics can explain.

One of my favorite things the author did actually involved one of the cliched economic examples, the prisoners dilemma.  Not only did the author explain this classic example of game theory quite clearly, she then related a lot of real world examples back to this toy example.  The application of game theory to the real world example was not always obvious and her clear identification of the parallels to the prisoners dilemma helped me see how game theory applied.

Unfortunately, some of her later chapters didn’t have as clear of a theme and I finished a few of them not sure what concept I was supposed to have learned.  The phrasing sometimes bothered me as well, with odd wording about every other paragraph.   For instance, the author uses the phrase “the price should drastically proliferate” to describe an increase in prices.  This might not bother all readers, but it frequently pulled me out of the narrative as I paused to wonder if the word was really wrong; if it was just personal preference that made it feel odd; or if the author had meant something else.

I loved the idea of this book.  Economics is a fascinating topic and I really liked that this book clearly showed economics at work in every day situations.  The author also does a great job of explaining basic economic concepts, using real world examples and some clearly explained graphs.  For me, it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for in an book about economics and the phrasing really threw me off, but for someone interested in a brief intro to economic concepts and who is less of a grammar nazi, I think this could be a really good book to pick up.


Economics: A Simple Twist on Normalcy – ★★☆☆☆ – For me this was only an ok read, mostly focused on human behavior that could be explained intuitively without using economics concepts.  However, for someone looking for a clear introduction to economic topics and their real world examples, this would be a pretty good choice.


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3 responses to “Bookends About Economics

  1. Sounds like an interesting read. Any other good economics primers you might recommend? I’m reading (slowly) Ecological Economics, which does well in explaining economical concepts to those not currently studying it, but it’s still quite a dense text.

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