Art Carden Recommends

Not sure what gear to use or books to read? Here are some of my favorites.

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These Changed How I See the World

New & Recent

 Economic History


States might be unavoidable, but are they necessary? These books explore how stateless societies do and might work, drawing on historical and current examples of statelessness while also explaining how markets could handle a set of problems for which we normally assume we need to defer to the state.

Audio Books

There’s nothing better for in the car and on long walks.

F.A. Hayek

C.S. Lewis

Deirdre McCloskey


Douglass C. North

I was North’s student at Washington University in St. Louis. He shared the Nobel Prize with Robert Fogel in 1993, and he passed away in November 2015 at the age of 95.

Adam Smith 

One of the best books you’ll ever read. I don’t think you can really understand Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” unless you grapple…

I dunno, he only really wrote two books…

Seriously, there’s a second volume? Paraphrasing Thomas Sowell, you don’t spend ten years writing a 900-page book to say how s…

This is one of my favorite books on Smith–it discusses and contextualizes the major themes in TMS and WN.

Thomas Sowell

Personal Finance

Do you struggle with budgeting and investing? These will get you on the right track.

This is a really interesting and really useful read. Most of what you will read here will seem obvious, but I think you’ll be surprised at how it matches up with your habits.

This might be my favorite book in this space. Sethi offers a clear guide to personal finance that will get you on the road to independent wealth. Why might that be important? It’s easier to make the world a better place if you’ve produced a lot that *can* make it better.

This is a nice illustration of the ways in which you’re (probably) wasting money. Don’t step over nickels to pick up pennies, but be deliberate about how you choose to use your money.

Ramsey offers a lot of very useful suggestions on budgeting and habit-forming. I disagree with Ramsey about debt in some cases–if you can earn 8% on stocks then you probably shouldn’t be paying down your 4%, interest-is-tax-deductible mortgage. Nonetheless, this is uncomfortably straight talk for people who struggle with spending habits.

The author and I go back almost 25 (!!) years. If you’re wondering how to get and keep a good credit score, here’s a very handy guide.

Productivity & Life Hacks

I’ve been studying workplace performance for about a decade or so as I’ve worked to get better at what I do and as I’ve worked to better align my actions with my values. These are some of my favorite books and tools.

Read this immediately. We say “yes” to far too many things, and “the disciplined pursuit of less” is far more difficult than it might appear at first given that it *seems* easy to say “no.”

My favorite book on workplace performance.

I’m one of the authors’ clients. This is an excellent and brief guide with lots of useful exercises that will help you get started when you’re stuck.

This is a pretty good workbook for getting better at doing what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it.

One of the best books in the genre. Allen puts together the best *system* I’ve seen, and even if you only stick to it kind of loosely it’s still way better than what you’re probably doing now.

I have an old edition, but this is a classic in the genre that’s worth keeping on your shelf.

A great refresher for people already in this space, a great intro for people new to it. It’s especially salient for academics as Newport is an academic in addition to an author of popular books and blogger.

The message of hope: willpower is a muscle that can be exercised and strengthened.

You don’t need all that physical, mental, social, and spiritual clutter. A little woo-woo at times, but an engaging read.

One of the best books I’ve ever read for something that will get you very clear, very quickly.

This is one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years. The problem most professionals and students face is not a lack of opportunity but *too much opportunity*. McKeown takes us on a journey that will help us learn to say “no” to good things so we can say “yes” to great things.

Voting and Public Choice

These books will provide you with a very solid foundation from which to begin thinking about the choices people make in the marketplace and the voting booth.

“Discourse failure” can characterize democratic deliberation. Pincione and Teson explain how and why.

There’s a lot more to all this than meets the eye. A lot of legislation is floated with no intention of passage–rather, it is floated in order to extract contributions from the affected parties.


Life is too short and your time is too valuable to deal with lousy gear and cheap pens. Here’s the stuff I use to get things done.

I actually have the Evernote version of this. It’s an amazing scanner.

Everything goes in here. Everything. And it comes with three months of Evernote Premium.

I’ve been very happy with these: they are *very* good shoes.

Seminar Recommended Readings

Seminar on Hayek, “Individualism and Economic Order”

Parenting Essentials: Gear and Books

We’ve experimented with a lot. Here are some of our favorite parenting resources.

I resisted getting a trampoline, thinking it was a terrible idea. It’s one of the best purchases we’ve ever made. The net means kids aren’t falling on the ground, and they spend tons of time on it. Once again, the net means they aren’t falling on the ground–and our kids (especially our two boys) have tested the net for sturdiness and found that it holds very nicely.

All-terrain, indeed. This is quite the little wagon: it’s sturdy, durable, and easy to pull, and it navigates bumpy landscapes with far less difficulty than other wagons we’ve had.

We don’t just homeschool. We unschool. It means different things to different people, but I have an essay in this volume detailing some of our reasons why.

We’ve played this with the kids a few times. They really enjoy it, and so do we. There’s a simple lesson–buy assets, avoid liabilities. It’s something many adults, never mind kids, don’t understand.

Movies and TV

Here are some favorites.

Without question, this is a great movie. The Flynn Effect says it’s not happening, but it feels a lot more plausible than the science suggests.

Check out my blog post Thoughts on the Passing Scene: Season 2 of “Fear the Walking Dead”.

We Subscribe and Save to These

My coffee of choice. Great bang for buck.

Kids’ Stuff!


Jacob’s Recommendations

Taylor Grace’s Recommendations

The views expressed on this website are those of Art Carden and do not in any way constitute the official views of Samford University, the Brock School of Business, the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics, the Mises Institute, the Independent Institute, the Beacon Center of Tennessee, the American Institute for Economic Research, or any organization with which I am or have ever been affiliated.