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Thread: Best Books to Read Before Grad School

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    Best Books to Read Before Grad School

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    Hi all,

    I am hoping to get some suggestions about good books to start reading to prep for grad school in economics. Below, can you provide your suggestions and why you think they are helpful pre- attaining a PhD in economics.

    Thank you very much!
    -L

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    Re: Best Books to Read Before Grad School

    Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side Gallery among others.

    All jokes aside, it is best to just relax. First year coursework will vary from school to school and the best way to prepare is to take it easy. I spent a lot of time the summer before starting and regret it. I did just fine.

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    Re: Best Books to Read Before Grad School

    "Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion" by Angrist and Pischke is definitely a good book to keep handy ...

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    Re: Best Books to Read Before Grad School

    If you must study, it never hurts to improve your writing skills.

    I recommend style: lessons in grace and clarity. Excellent book.

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    Re: Best Books to Read Before Grad School

    Hi all,

    Thank you so much for your responses! My professor also suggested "Mostly Harmless Econometrics" so that is on my list. I have a lot of free time at work 9-5 each day, so I think I will do some reading, with plans to take the summer off completely to enjoy myself. This seems like a good balance to me! Again, thanks for all of your advice!
    -L

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Re: Best Books to Read Before Grad School

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaysa View Post
    If you must study, it never hurts to improve your writing skills.

    I recommend style: lessons in grace and clarity. Excellent book.
    This point is generally under emphasized. Most of us don't have undergrad degrees that required a ton of writing and writing isn't highly considered in the admissions process, but we are mainly judged on our written output. I have struggled a good amount at improving writing during grad school. I wish I would have taken a course or two on academic writing during undergrad.

    I haven't read the book, but I will probably check it out.

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    Re: Best Books to Read Before Grad School

    Two other characteristics that are also rarely mentioned are the abilities to present well and without preparation and practical institutional knowledge. The former abilities will not get you publications or tenure, but they will make everything else that you do that much easier. No prep time for meetings, classes, or presentations. A lot of time saved. Practical institutional knowledge is essential to publish good papers. Understanding what it is that you are studying and what is important towards that institution is the difference between writing up a cool, interesting paper versus a paper that is valuable and contributes to our knowledge. Unfortunately, there are no books on either subject. Both come with experience.

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    Re: Best Books to Read Before Grad School

    Each grad school should have an arm which 'trains' incoming grad students to become adequate instructors. Check with them if there's any resource available to improve your presentation skills like workshops, etc. People generally tend to write off the ability to present coherently, without an inordinate amount of 'um's and 'err's.

    Though, I concur that this is slightly off tangent, seeing as to how you're searching for stuff to do prior to admission, I just wanted to add on to Kaysa's point.

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    Re: Best Books to Read Before Grad School

    Deirdre McCloskey's Bourgeois Dignity (2011) is a good book for casual reading, both for understanding the strengths and limitations of economic reasoning, and for learning how to write effectively. (It's nominally about the Industrial Revolution but McCloskey spends a lot of time reflecting on modern economic analysis, which draws from her own experiences from being a Marxist to a Chicago economist, then to somewhat of a skeptic of modern economics.)

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    Re: Best Books to Read Before Grad School

    The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

    Looking to make a change? Maybe it’s being more disciplined with studying, hitting the gym more often, getting in an extra hour of GRE study time? Duhigg says you need to understand the habit you want to make (or break) and tackle it through three essential components – the cue, the reward, and the routine.

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