What is a good, short readable book on market economics?

Boswell, a loyal MR reader, asks:

I’ve been asked to select a book that all incoming freshmen will (supposedly) read over the summer and then give a lecture on the topic in the fall.  The constraints are two-fold:  it should be a short, affordable paperback, and it should be an interesting read that will engage nearly everyone, especially those who have no interest in economics whatsoever.

There must be a good, short book out there on economics that illuminates the power of markets and the economic way of thinking.  Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek are out – too heavy and dense for the average reader.  Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” was selected a few years earlier.  Henry Hazlett is out of date.  Any suggestions for possible books?  P.J. O’Rourke on Adam Smith?  Bastiat’s “The Law”?  Charles Wheelan’s “Naked Economics”?  Something by Tim Harford?  “Fooled by Randomness” by Taleb?  John McMillan’s “Reinventing the Bazaar”?

Ideas?  There is also Russ Roberts and early Paul Krugman, among others.


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