If you’re looking for something to read that will improve your ability as an investor, Farnam Street recommends the following books, below is a list along with a description from Amazon.com. To see more on why Shane likes them visit Farnam Street
Investing Books #1: The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
The greatest investment advisor of the twentieth century, Benjamin Graham, taught and inspired people worldwide. Graham’s philosophy of “value investing” — which shields investors from substantial error and teaches them to develop long-term strategies — has made The Intelligent Investor the stock market bible ever since its original publication in 1949.
Over the years, market developments have proven the wisdom of Graham’s strategies. While preserving the integrity of Graham’s original text, this revised edition includes updated commentary by noted financial journalist Jason Zweig, whose perspective incorporates the realities of today’s market, draws parallels between Graham’s examples and today’s financial headlines, and gives readers a more thorough understanding of how to apply Graham’s principles.
Investing Books #2: The Little Book that Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt
In The Little Book that Beats the Market, Joel Greenblatt, Founder and Managing Partner at Gotham Capital (with average annualized returns of 40% for over 20 years), does more than simply set out the basic principles for successful stock market investing. He provides a “magic formula” that is easy to use and makes buying good companies at bargain prices automatic. Though the formula has been extensively tested and is a breakthrough in the academic and professional world, Greenblatt explains it using 6th grade math, plain language and humor. You’ll learn how to use this low risk method to beat the market and professional managers by a wide margin. You’ll also learn how to view the stock market, why success eludes almost all individual and professional investors, and why the formula will continue to work even after everyone “knows” it.
Investing Books #3: Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Taleb
Fooled by Randomness is a standalone book in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s landmark Incerto series, an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision-making in a world we don’t understand. The other books in the series are The Black Swan, Antifragile, and The Bed of Procrustes.
“[Taleb is] Wall Street’s principal dissident. . . . [Fooled By Randomness] is to conventional Wall Street wisdom approximately what Martin Luther’s ninety-nine theses were to the Catholic Church.”
–Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker
Finally in paperback, the word-of-mouth sensation that will change the way you think about the markets and the world.This book is about luck: more precisely how we perceive luck in our personal and professional experiences.
Investing Books #4: The Most Important Thing by Howard Marks
Howard Marks’s The Most Important Thing distilled the investing insight of his celebrated client memos into a single volume and, for the first time, made his time-tested philosophy available to general readers. In this edition, Marks’s wisdom is joined by the comments, insights, and counterpoints of four renowned investors and investment educators: Christopher C. Davis (Davis Funds), Joel Greenblatt (Gotham Capital), Paul Johnson (Nicusa Capital), and Seth A. Klarman (Baupost Group).
These experts lend insight into such concepts as “second-level thinking,” the price/value relationship, patient opportunism, and defensive investing. Marks also adds his own annotations, expanding on his book’s original themes and issues. A new chapter addresses the importance of reasonable expectations, and a foreword by Bruce C. Greenwald, called “a guru to Wall Street’s gurus” by the New York Times, speaks on value investing, productivity, and the economics of information.
Investing Books #5: Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger
Poor Charlie’s Almanack, The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger.
Investing Books #6: Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher
Widely respected and admired, Philip Fisher is among the most influential investors of all time. His investment philosophies, introduced almost forty years ago, are not only studied and applied by today’s financiers and investors, but are also regarded by many as gospel. Poor Charlie’s Almanack is invaluable reading and has been since it was first published in 1958. The updated paperback retains the investment wisdom of the original edition and includes the perspectives of the author’s son Ken Fisher, an investment guru in his own right in an expanded preface and introduction
“I sought out Phil Fisher after reading his Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits…A thorough understanding of the business, obtained by using Phil’s techniques…enables one to make intelligent investment commitments.” – Warren Buffet
Investing Books #7: The Dao of Capital by Mark Spitznagel
In The Dao of Capital, hedge fund manager and tail-hedging pioneer Mark Spitznagel—with one of the top returns on capital of the financial crisis, as well as over a career—takes us on a gripping, circuitous journey from the Chicago trading pits, over the coniferous boreal forests and canonical strategists from Warring States China to Napoleonic Europe to burgeoning industrial America, to the great economic thinkers of late 19th century Austria. We arrive at his central investment methodology of Austrian Investing, where victory comes not from waging the immediate decisive battle, but rather from the roundabout approach of seeking the intermediate positional advantage (what he calls shi), of aiming at the indirect means rather than directly at the ends. The monumental challenge is in seeing time differently, in a whole new intertemporal dimension, one that is so contrary to our wiring.
Investing Books #8: Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist by Roger Lowenstein
Since its hardcover publication in August of 1995, Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist has appeared on the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, Newsday and Business Week bestseller lists. The incredible landmark portrait of Warren Buffett’s uniquely American life is now available in paperback, revised and updated by the author.
Starting from scratch, simply by picking stocks and companies for investment, Warren Buffett amassed one of the epochal fortunes of the twentieth century–an astounding net worth of $10 billion, and counting. His awesome investment record has made him a cult figure popularly known for his seeming contradictions: a billionaire who has a modest lifestyle, a phenomenally successful investor who eschews the revolving-door trading of modern Wall Street, a brilliant dealmaker who cultivates a homespun aura.
What makes a successful CEO? Most people call to mind a familiar definition: “a seasoned manager with deep industry expertise.” Others might point to the qualities of today’s so-called celebrity CEOs—charisma, virtuoso communication skills, and a confident management style. But what really matters when you run an organization? What is the hallmark of exceptional CEO performance? Quite simply, it is the returns for the shareholders of that company over the long term.
In this refreshing, counterintuitive book, author Will Thorndike brings to bear the analytical wisdom of a successful career in investing, closely evaluating the performance of companies and their leaders. You will meet eight individualistic CEOs whose firms’ average returns outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of twenty—in other words, an investment of $10,000 with each of these CEOs, on average, would have been worth over $1.5 million twenty-five years later. You may not know all their names, but you will recognize their companies: General Cinema, Ralston Purina, The Washington Post Company, Berkshire Hathaway, General Dynamics, Capital Cities Broadcasting, TCI, and Teledyne. In The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success, you’ll learn the traits and methods—striking for their consistency and relentless rationality—that helped these unique leaders achieve such exceptional performance.
Investing Books #10: The Misbehavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Financial Turbulence by Benoit Mandelbrot
Mathematical superstar and inventor of fractal geometry, Benoit Mandelbrot, has spent the past forty years studying the underlying mathematics of space and natural patterns. What many of his followers don’t realize is that he has also been watching patterns of market change. In The Misbehavior of Markets: A Fractal View of Financial Turbulence, Mandelbrot joins with science journalist and former Wall Street Journal editor Richard L. Hudson to reveal what a fractal view of the world of finance looks like. The result is a revolutionary reevaluation of the standard tools and models of modern financial theory. Markets, we learn, are far riskier than we have wanted to believe. From the gyrations of IBM’s stock price and the Dow, to cotton trading, and the dollar-Euro exchange rate–Mandelbrot shows that the world of finance can be understood in more accurate, and volatile, terms than the tired theories of yesteryear.The ability to simplify the complex has made Mandelbrot one of the century’s most influential mathematicians. With The (Mis)Behavior of Markets, he puts the tools of higher mathematics into the hands of every person involved with markets, from financial analysts to economists to 401(k) holders. Markets will never be seen as “safe bets” again.
Investing Books #11: Why Stocks Go Up (and Down) by William Pike
Why Stocks Go Up (and Down) provides a sound understanding of the fundamentals of investing in stocks and bonds. The book explains the basics of financial statements and analysis, cash flow generation, stock price valuation, and more. It goes well beyond most introductory books. It is perfect for readers with little or no background in investing and is certain to add value for experienced investors as well.
Who should read this book? New investors who want a solid background in stock and bond fundamentals. Anyone planning to take an introductory accounting or investment course. Readers of popular investment books who encounter terms or concepts they do not understand.
Investing Books #12: Bull: A History of the Boom and Bust, 1982-2004 by Maggie Mahar
In 1982, the Dow hovered below 1000. Then, the market rose and rapidly gained speed until it peaked above 11,000. Noted journalist and financial reporter Maggie Mahar has written the first book on the remarkable bull market that began in 1982 and ended just in the early 2000s. For almost two decades, a colorful cast of characters such as Abby Joseph Cohen, Mary Meeker, Henry Blodget, and Alan Greenspan came to dominate the market news.
This inside look at that 17-year cycle of growth, built upon interviews and unparalleled access to the most important analysts, market observers, and fund managers who eagerly tell the tales of excesses, presents the period with a historical perspective and explains what really happened and why.