My Favorite Books for Investing and Life
All of the books listed here have played a part in my education, not just as an investor but as a person in search of happiness, fulfillment, and a deeper understanding of how the world works. My goal here is simply to share with you a selection of books that have enriched my life.
This is a decidedly idiosyncratic list, ranging from seminal works on investing to esoteric studies of complexity, psychology, and games. I first compiled this list when I was putting together the bibliography of my own book, The Education of a Value Investor, but I’ve since expanded the list.
It’s still not comprehensive by any means, but I hope you’ll find much in here that’s useful, enlightening, and life-enhancing. These books are filled with wisdom not just on stock-picking but on everything from ants to anarchy, finance to love.
The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing by Benjamin Graham is where it all started for me. Five other books that deserve to be read and reread many times are Seth Klarman’s Margin of Safety: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor; Joel Greenblatt’s You Can be a Stock Market Genius: Uncover the Secret Hiding Places of Stock Market Profits; The Aggressive Conservative Investor by Martin J. Whitman, Martin Shubik, and Gene Isenberg; John Mihaljevic’s The Manual of Ideas: The Proven Framework for Finding the Best Value Investments; and Mohnish Pabrai’s The Dhandho Investor: The Low-Risk Value Method to High Returns. The Great Minds of Investing by William Green and Michael O’Brien offers a rare depth of insight into the lives and minds of many of the best investors of our time. Before I discovered value investing, I was captivated by two other investment classics: Edwin Lelevre’s Reminiscences of a Stock Operator and The Alchemy of Finance by George Soros.
HEROES, MENTORS AND ROLE MODELS
Roger Lowenstein’s biography Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist was the first book that I consciously used to help me “model” Warren Buffett. It’s still my favorite biography of Buffett. Alice Schroeder’s The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life also makes made a valuable, though controversial, contribution to our understanding of him. It’s well worth reading Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything„ 1966-2013 by his friend Carol Loomis, a renowned writer for Fortune. There is also a deep well of wisdom from Buffett in Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders, 1965-2013. Another marvelous glimpse inside the mind of a master is Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T Munger, which includes his eye-opening analysis of the causes of human misjudgment.
The best guide to mastermind groups is Mo Fathelbab’s Forum: The Secret Advantage of Successful Leaders. The title says it all. But I highly recommend that you discover the power of such groups by joining one. Some of the best are run by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization 36 Investing Principles and the Young Presidents’ Organization, which devote enormous resources to helping their members have a positive forum experience. Toastmasters works slightly differently but is also excellent. (It’s also a lot more egalitarian and a lot less expensive.) Alcoholics Anonymous, which I have not attended, produces a wonderful book entitled Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Although created to help recovering alcoholics, its lessons are applicable to everyone.
It’s tempting for cerebral people to raise their eyebrows at the very thought of self-help books, but I’ve found a great deal of practical wisdom within this genre. For me, the central figure here is Tony Robbins. Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Financial Destiny! provides as good an introduction as any to his ideas, as do his various recordings. But to experience the full benefit of what he has to teach, I would recommend attending one of his seminars.
We all embark on the inner journey without a good road map. But there are signposts. I first began to discover this rich territory when I read The Grail Legend by Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz, followed by The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden: Understanding the Wounded Feeling Function in Masculine and Feminine Psychology by Robert Johnson. During my seven-year stint in Jungian therapy, I found Edward Whitmont’s The Symbolic Quest: Basic Concepts of Analytical Psychology a very useful handbook. My first explorations into the power of emotion came from reading Diana Fosha’s The Transforming Power of Affect: A Model for Accelerated Change, which then led me to works by Allan Schore, Antonio Damasio, Joseph LeDoux, and others, some of which I’ve listed here.