A friend and I have both decided (at his suggestion) to tackle and discuss E.F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. Conveniently, I already had two copies on my shelf, gifts from two different family members, who apparently upon learning that I'd decided to study economics began to fear for the state of my soul. Both copies of the book have since then sat on my shelf these past few years, with nothing but their somewhat garish cover art with which to occupy themselves, and my occasional changes in domicile to alter their location. It isn't as though I never meant to read them, mind you (though I always thought I'd read just one of them; there's no sense in going overboard), but there has always been a seemingly endless supply of books that I would rather read first. Whenever it caught my eye (as two identical books next to each other on a shelf can do) I would always say to myself, as my Grandmother is fond of saying, I wish I wanted to do that. I should mention that I don't really know what the book is about, and that I generally like reading about economics (after all, I have a degree in it). I'm not even remotely familiar with its author. No, the book's only sin, aside from the aforementioned artwork on its jacket, for which it had been relegated to its current perdition, was its title. It's subtitle, to be exact (that's the part the comes after the colon).
You see, from where I sit, economics is about people. It's a social science, after all: a study of people. The book doesn't do itself any favors in my estimation by starting with what appears to be a false premise, namely that people don't matter to economics in general. You may as well put a book on my shelf entitled If Only All Irish-Americans Weren't Sociopaths. Sure, it has a certain ring to it, but it doesn't pose itself to be taken seriously, at least as a work of nonfiction.
In any case, after a week of prodding from my friend, I've decided to read it. It's only about three hundred pages; it shouldn't take all that long, anyways. It may end up being good, I don't know. They say that you can't judge a book by it's cover, but I generally think that to be false. In a given lifetime, you just haven't got time to read everything. I read pretty slowly, so for me this is even more true than for many people. Assuming that you value reading at all (not everyone does), you have to choose what to read somehow, and a cover (ideally, at least) tells you something about the book. In this case, if Small Is Beautiful ends up being good, then its cover is guilty of spreading misinformation about it.
By the way, the friend I mentioned is John, the author of Basebology, and one of this blog's only regular commentors. For all I know, he's the only person who'll ever read this post, for that matter. When we've finished the book (assuming that the world doesn't end first, of course), I may try to get a few money quotes from him to put up on this space, which will probably be easier than formulating my own thoughts about it. Who knows? He may even be able to relate the book's contents to our national pastime.