These are the books I’d recommend people read in order to get the most bang for their buck in terms of learning as much as possible in the least amount of time.

(1) Economics in One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt. Important for beginners. You can read it online. Also useful for beginners is Peter Schiff’s book How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes.

(2) The Revolution: A Manifesto, by Ron Paul. This is another good one for beginners. It has a good track record as a proselytizing device.

(3) Democracy: The God that Failed, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Just read it. Trust me on this.

(4) What Has Government Done to Our Money? by Murray N. Rothbard. An excellent little overview of the origin of money and its fate at the hands of government.

(5) The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey, by Michael Huemer. Don’t let the dull title fool you. This book is comprehensive, original, exciting, and very convincing. It is a relentless assault, by a philosopher, on the standard arguments for government. Not one of them is left standing.

(6) Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays, by Murray N. Rothbard. The quality of the essays in this book is astounding. You will not think the same way ever again after reading “Anatomy of the State” and “War, Peace, and the State,” to name just two.

(7) The Left, the Right, and the State, by Lew Rockwell. Lew (who of course runs the indispensable LewRockwell.com) did the world an incalculable service with the founding of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, but he is grossly underrated as a thinker in his own right. He has extended Rothbardian thought in numerous ways, and has influenced my own thinking more than almost anyone in the world.

(8) The Quest for Community, by Robert Nisbet. Here is a graduate course in political philosophy. Except in this one, the state is not the glorious summit of civilization and the indispensable source of human flourishing. As the new edition explains, “Nisbet argued that the rise of the powerful modern state had eroded the sources of community—the family, the neighborhood, the church, the guild. Alienation and loneliness inevitably resulted. But as the traditional ties that bind fell away, the human impulse toward community led people to turn even more to the government itself, allowing statism — even totalitarianism — to flourish.”

(9) The Austrian Theory of the Trade Cycle and Other Essays. Features essays by Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, Gottfried Haberler, and Murray N. Rothbard. An effective introduction to the Austrian theory of the business cycle.

After you read these, I recommend the following:

A Theory of Socialism and Capitalism, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Hoppe’s books put everything together for me.

The Economics and Ethics of Private Property, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe. This book blew me away when I first read it. Its title makes it sound dull. It is one of the most intellectually exciting books I have ever read.

The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America, by David Stockman. Much more than a thorough demolition of the case for the bailouts in the wake of the 2008 crisis, this book is a sweeping revision of twentieth-century economic history. Fantastic.

For advanced students only:

Man, Economy, and State: A Treatise on Economic Principles, by Murray N. Rothbard. This one, and the two that follow, are for the especially ambitious. This is a systematic exposition of Austrian economics. The sheer elegance of the Austrian system is on impressive display here.

Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, by Ludwig von Mises. (Some disagree with me, but I favor beginning with Rothbard before moving on to Human Action.)

Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles, by Jesús Huerta de Soto. Here is the Austrian theory on money, banking, and business cycles, presented in systematic fashion, and compared with the Chicago and Keynesian alternatives. I have a friend who was so impressed by this book that he learned Spanish so he could pursue his Ph.D. under the author in Spain.

I could name other books, naturally, but to my mind these are the absolutely indispensable ones.

I wrote my own books in order to pack the greatest punch per page, so that the reader will learn as much as possible. There’s no filler in my books. As part of your reading program, I particularly recommend my books 33 Questions About American History You’re Not Supposed to Ask, The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, Meltdown (on the financial crisis, featuring a foreword by Ron Paul), Nullification, Rollback, The Church and the Market (which is a good intermediate book between Hazlitt and Mises), and Real Dissent.

Enjoy!