The Armchair Economist includes my favorite line in all of popular economics:
Economic theory predicts that you are not enjoying this book as much you thought you would.
I laugh every time I read that line and I think what a brilliant opening to an essay on auction theory and the winner’s curse! And then I think, but in fact I am enjoying this book more than I thought!
I first read Landsburg’s book some twenty years ago and dipping into the revised edition over the weekend I can see how influential The Armchair Economist has been on my own teaching and writing, particularly Landsburg’s wonderful and deep essay, Why Prices are Good: Smith v. Darwin. Around 1997, the Armchair Economist also inspired my (now) colleague Bryan Caplan to create a listserv to discuss economics with a small cadre of like minded readers. Many of the people on that listserv would later become well-known econ bloggers. My history makes me assume that everyone has read The Armchair Economist, after all, all my friends have read The Armchair Economist! More rational reflection tells me that time and the flowering of popular economics means that there is a whole new generation of readers ready to be delighted and inspired.