Michael Neilsen links to a list of answers to this question: What single book is the best introduction to your field or specialization within your field for laypeople? He says it’s a gold mine. Perhaps it is. On economics it has just one link – to Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson. I’ve not read it, but it seems like a book that is designed to hammer home that summary way economists reason by trying to think about the ‘equilibrium’ response, rather than the immediate response to policies. All very sensible, but it depends on how hard this guy is pushing this way of thinking. If it’s an introduction to a set of ‘priors’ which should be understood as such and treated accordingly, then well and good. But a lot of books with this kind of schtik will often overdo this, and explain that the (summary) economic approach is the right answer. Anyway, I can’t know this not having read Hazlitt. Meanwhile if asked for a single book, I’d go with the excellent The Truth about Markets by the excellent British economist and (one of many excellent FT op edders) John Kay.
I hearby open this thread to suggestions from others for similar books, in economics or in any other area.