"The Undercover Economist"
by Tim Harford
Reading history and reviews
Finished in 2008This was something of an impulse buy - the cover caught my eye when I was shopping for a Christmas present for my dad last December - and it turned out to be a fascinating read, being pretty much an introduction to economics for people like me who, well, don't know very much at all about economics.
I think what hooked me in was the promise of explaining "price targeting" and why "information asymmetry" is a bad thing for the market, and consquently how coffee chains like Costa and Starbucks (as well as supermarkets) find ways to charge people quite different amounts for essentially the same products, and why it isn't possible to buy a decent second-hand car. But there's lots of good stuff in there aside from that, about how economics works (and doesn't work) in the real world, written in a very readable and entertaining style. I'm sure that the people I was with at the time rapidly became fed up with yet another "insight" at breakfast after I'd been reading the night before, and yet I know that there are lots of things that I didn't quite get or remember. So I'd definitely like to read this again sometime.