The successful macro investor must be some magical mixture of an acute analyst, an investment scholar, a listener, a historian, a river boat gambler, and be a voraciousreader. Reading is crucial.
~ Barton Biggs
After being asked countless times about the best books to read when it comes to markets and trading, I finally decided to create a comprehensive list.
I’ve read hundreds of books on trading, markets, economics, history and psychology over the years. And even now I still try to read a new one every two weeks. Reading is not only vital to developing yourself as a trader, but also as a person who’s able to get what they want out of life.
Charlie Munger put it well when he said:
I have said that in my whole life, I have known no wise person, over a broad subject matter who didn’t read all the time — none, zero. Now I know all kinds of shrewd people who by staying within a narrow area do very well without reading. But investment is a broad area. So if you think you’re going to be good at it and not read all the time you have a different idea than I do.
You’re going to notice that the following list is not just trading books, but also books on psychology and history. You need a firm understanding of both in order to effectively apply what you’ve learned to the markets.
One of the reasons why I love trading, and global macro trading in particular, is because of the broad disciplines you need to study to be successful. The goal is to become a polymath, a renaissance man of sorts, who can pool together disparate points and fields of study to form an advantageous understanding of how this complex world works.
This reading list is broken down into three sections: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced.
I’ve constructed it along the lines of what I’d recommend to someone just starting out in the game. The books progress in their level of advancement as you move further down the list. It’s the reading list that I would follow if I were starting out today.
I’m inevitably forgetting to add some excellent books to this list. If you find any glaring omissions, please add them to the comments section below and I’ll throw them on here. This list is a living document that I’ll continue to add to and update overtime.
The best book ever written on trading and markets. It details the life and trading of Jesse Livermore — one of the greatest to ever play the game. This is the first trading book you need to read and it’s one you should revisit every couple of years. I’ve gone through it countless times. I learn something new each time I open it.
“After spending many years in Wall Street and after making and losing millions of dollars I want to tell you this: It never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It was always my sitting tight. Got that? My Sitting tight!”
One of my all-time favorite books on the art of learning and mastering a skill. Fans of Tim Ferriss should be familiar with Josh as he’s appeared on his podcast numerous times. Josh is the child chess prodigy that the movie Searching For Bobby Fischer is based off of. The guy knows a thing or two about operating at an elite level. He also consults with a number of big name hedge fund managers. You can read our in-depth review of his book here.
“If I want to be the best, I have to take risks others would avoid, always optimizing the learning potential of the moment and turning adversity to my advantage. That said, there are times when the body needs to heal, but those are ripe opportunities to deepen the mental, technical, internal side of my game. When aiming for the top, your path requires an engaged, searching mind. You have to make obstacles spur you to creative new angles in the learning process. Let setbacks deepen your resolve. You should always come off an injury or a loss better than when you went down.”
There’s four books in this series and each is filled with timeless trading wisdom. The original Market Wizards was the first trading book I ever read and it changed the direction of my life.
“There is no single market secret to discover, no single correct way to trade the markets. Those seeking the one true answer to the markets haven’t even gotten as far as asking the right question, let alone getting the right answer.”
A simple and effective system to help a trader discover growth stocks. Though the “CANSLIM” system itself has become somewhat cannibalized because of its popularity, the book itself remains a valuable lesson in how to look at markets.
“The whole secret to winning big in the stock market is not to be right all the time, but to lose the least amount possible when you’re wrong.”
A must-read on risk and investing psychology. An underrated book that will help you learn from the mistakes of others so you don’t have to make them as well. I listened to this one on audiobook but hope to read it in the future.
“Speculating is the application of intellectual examination and systematic analysis to the problem of the uncertain future.”
Timeless investing wisdom from one of the greatest operators in the game. I’m a big fan of Marks. He imparts a lot of important market lessons in this book. It’s also worth taking some time and reading his quarterly letters that are up on his fund’s site.
“Several things go together for those who view the world as an uncertain place: healthy respect for risk; awareness that we don’t know what the future holds; an understanding that the best we can do is view the future as a probability distribution and invest accordingly; insistence on defensive investing; and emphasis on avoiding pitfalls. To me that is what thoughtful investing is all about.”
A comprehensive and engaging read on everything from trading systems to psychology and even a little macro. A good overview of the basics of trading.
“If there is one fatal flaw in this business, it is allowing isolated information to drive trading or investing decisions-committing money without understanding all the risks. And there is only one way to understand all the risks: through systematic knowledge.”
An entertaining and quick read on trading, markets and money management that is filled with trading wisdom. I really enjoyed this book and I’m a big fan of “Adam Smith’s” writing. Smith (which is his pen name) also did a really great finance show called “Money World” that ran back in the 90’s. You can catch old episodes of it on