I heard that Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell is a good book for a layperson to get a feel for how the economy works. I have also heard some criticisms but they seem to be based on Thomas Sowell's political views.
I think both of the things you heard about the book are valid. The book is very good at explaining some basic economic concepts such as scarcity and trade-offs, how markets operate and also has a lot of illustrations of very important concept in policy economics of unintended consequences.
On the other hand you can definitely see a libertarian slant in the book. For example, the book presents mainly examples of various government interventions that failed due to unintended consequences, but does not always mention more nuanced policies that were successful. This can give reader misleading impression about role of government in the economy. Also, I do not think his treatment of minimum wages (in the fifth edition) provides fair overview of a literature (although it takes stance that has slighter majority support among economists, this issue is controversial with profession not reaching proper consensus yet see IGM poll).
This being said the book was written in 2000, and while by 2000 standards it would be fair to say its has political slant by 2022 standards when even AP often interjects some political commentary into their reporting its barely noticeable.
Would you recommend this book?
That depends on what your objectives are. The book will definitely explain very well basic concepts in economics and also what economics as a subject is. Then it will also give you a lot of illustrations of how some crude interventions in the economy lead to unintended consequences, which is again something that everyone should probably know.
But at the same time it has libertarian slant in a way that it nudges reader toward the conclusion government policy is ineffective by mainly presenting failures of government policy. This being said, as long as you read the book keeping in mind that there is more to government policy, then still most of the examples Sowell mentions are valid examples of failures that result from policymakers often ignoring basic economic principles.
If you would want some book for a laymen that is more neutral I would recommend:
The Economics Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained - I think this is the most neutral laymen economics book on the market. Its essentially like a high-school textbook but written in fun way that is more accessible.
The book is still well written, although one has to admit that the basics are probably better explained by Sowell.
You can also read both of the books Economics Book is more comprehensive despite basics being less well explained. So despite there being some overlap you would still gain more from reading both.