In my college days I struggled with economics and barely passed. My economic professors and the course material were dull, ambiguous, and non-stimulating. None of these adjectives could be used to describe Schumacher's Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered.
Schumacher makes economics come alive with wit, humor, and practicality. His approach is qualitative, not quantitative. A recurring statement throughout the book epitomizes his philosophy, "Why use the computer if you can make the calculation on the back of an envelope"? He gives the science a personality when identifying the disparities between the rich and poor, the educated and uneducated, and the gap between city people and country-folk.
Small is Beautiful created a humanistic economics movement. It's a wholistic approach containing ethical, ecological, and metaphysical components that are missing from the statistical models that solely measure GNP. Schumacher sounded the alarm regarding globalization when asking "how much further 'growth' will be possible, since infinate growth in a finite environment is an obvious impossibility". He was critical of a society that generates unbounded materialism, and motivated by greed and envy.
Some of the more interesting of the 20 essays are: "Peace and Permanence", "The Role of Economics", "Buddhist Economics", "The Greatest Resource - Education", "Technology with a Human Face", "Development of Intermediate Technology", and "Two Million Villages".
Although the book was written in 1973, it is as timely now as it was then. The 25th anniversary edition contains provocative updates provided as sidebars by contributors such as Hazel Henderson, Peter Warshall, Amory Lovins, Godric Bader, et al.