The Triple M Reading List

Books are great. They provide a never ending path of free, or nearly-free education that you can walk along for your entire life, taking branches here and there as you see fit.

The reason I like non-fiction books as a source of learning is because they typically represent so much concentrated effort on the part of the author. Somebody worked for many months or even years on this thing, researching and refining it, and you get to just flip it open and suck up the entire contents in just a few days.

If you keep up the habit over time, you’ll end up with the equivalent of several more university degrees above and beyond your first one, yet it will cost you virtually nothing. Because of this, I suggest to all the youngest Mustachians that you spend at least a couple hours per week working your way through nonfiction books on things you want or need to learn about. And financial topics are a good thing to have in the roster.

I’ve reviewed a few books on this site so far, and have many more reviews coming up. I also get quite a few recommendations from readers, and I’ve read some of those too. I also find myself repeating certain book titles over and over as recommendations for new people who write in looking for advice.

So I thought we could put it all together in this Official Reading List article – I’ll start by summarizing the good books that come to mind, then you can add more in the comments along with your own description.

Then I will collect it all up and move it to become a dedicated link at the top of this page for future reference for everyone in the future.

Investing and Finance Books I’ve read and Liked:

Economics Explained  see book review

A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiela great explanation of why index investing rules, written by a very wise professor/investor guy who has personally researched and debunked most of the common “wisdom” that exists about stock trading today.

The Intelligent Asset Allocator – by William J Bernsteinexamines the effects of mixing stocks, bonds, and other assets into your portfolio in different proportions. Explains that with very little effort, you can drastically reduce the volatility of your investments, even while maintaining the same level of overall returns.

Towards Rational Exuberance by B. Mark Smith – a well written history of the stock market dating back to the 1800s, which describes the old corrupt capitalists and mustachian heroes of old, the forming of the Federal reserve to stabilize the financial system, the conditions that led up to the great crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression, the New Deal and securities act of 1932, and everything since then.

The Little Book that Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt – describes a method of stock picking which has historically performed much better than the stock market as a whole. It’s really just a complicated  form of value investing.

Early Retirement Extreme  by Jacob Fisker – see book review

I Will Teach You To Be Rich – Ramit Sethi – see book review

Your Money or Your Life – Joe Dominguez and others – one of the Founding Documents of Mustachianism – explains that money is not for buying shit, it is for the purpose of attaining freedom.

The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley/William Danko – see book review

The Automatic Millionaire Homeowner by David Bach – a book about investing in single family rental properties with an emphasis on setting things up to run automatically, keeping you free to expand the empire. Not entirely Mustachian in nature, but a good intro nonetheless.

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki – a spunky rich guy explains his upbringing with two ‘Dads’, one a middle-class big spender who never became financially independent, and the other a businessman/investor who thought of his money as investment capital rather than just something to spend.

Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy – see sorta book review

The Magic of Thinking Big: a 1950s classic by David J Schwartz – the book that made me permanently happy – see book review


The Snowball by Alice Schroeder – this is the complete story of Warren Buffett’s life. (He’s old, so there are over 700 pages).

Dreams from my Father and The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama – books from the current Big Man, the first one from before he knew he would be a big politician, and the second one from when he was gunning for the presidency. Since he wrote them with his own hands, you get a much better idea of who he is as a person, and can then judge more accurately what the media on both sides is saying about him, as well as more accurately predicting the direction of the country if he gets re-elected in 2012.

Applied Math:
Struck by Lightning  ..The curious world of probabilties, by Jeffrey Rosenthal – This book sums up my decision making process whenever anything is unknown. The basic idea is: understand how fun and useful probabilities and statistics are. Then USE them to avoid making unwise and expensive decisions out of fear, such as buying Rolex Watch insurance or driving an SUV instead of riding a bike for “safety” reasons while allowing an overweight physique to persist for decades.

General Science:
The Selfish Gene
by Richard Dawkins – an explanation of evolution since the beginning of life that explains things from the perspective of individual genes. It makes so much sense and is so brilliantly written, that it pretty much obliterates any mysteries as to why any living thing on Earth is the way it is – including humans with all of our fussy little needs and moods.


Still to Read, as recommended by readers: 

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham

The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need
by Andrew Tobias (Paperback)

Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (Fully Revised and Updated)
by Charles J. Wheelan (Paperback)

Guide to Economic Indicators: Making Sense of Economics (The Economist)
by EconomistStaff (Hardcover)

The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein

How the Economy Works: Confidence, Crashes and Self-Fulfilling​ Prophecies
by Roger E.A. Farmer (Hardcover)

Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream
by Adam Shepard (Paperback)

Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth
by Juliet B. Schor (Hardcover)

What Technology Wants
by Kevin Kelly (Paperback)

The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty
by Peter Singer (Paperback)

Against Thrift: Why Consumer Culture is Good for the Economy, the Environment, and Your Soul by James Livingston (Hardcover) <— need to read this one just because the title sounds so evil!!

Nudge – on decision making

“7 Laws of Money” by Mike Phillips

What do you think? Any favorites or recent finds that transformed your knowledge and pushed you up to a higher level of understanding? Share them in the comments!

As a reminder, don’t just go running to Amazon if you decide to read any of these – check your library first. If that fails, there’s also a link to Better World Books at the bottom right of this site that often has cheap used copies, plus does great charitable activities with a good slice of the proceeds.

happy reading!

  • Lee January 6, 2012, 6:50 am

    This is perfect timing! I’ve recently gotten very interested in financial independence. I’ve always been someone that lives below my means but this actually gives me more of a goal for that. I’ve been looking for more books to read that relate to investing and finance. Thanks!

  • jlcollinsnh January 6, 2012, 6:51 am

    “The Richest Man in Babylon” This simple little book lays out the keys to wealth more succinctly than any other I’ve read. My only concern is that it is so simple and so readable that folks may tend to gloss over it. It requires time to truly contemplate each principle.

    If you have an interest in Particle Physics and, after all who doesn’t, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” almost got me to maybe understanding it a little bit. It is the only book, so far, I’ve touted on my blog: http://jlcollinsnh.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/the-mummys-head-particle-physics-and-knocking-on-heavens-door/

    • Smorgasbord January 6, 2012, 9:41 am

      The richest man in babylon is available as a pdf here.


  • Matt from Buffalo January 6, 2012, 7:01 am

    Gardening books:

    How to Grow More Vegetables: (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine by John Jeavons [Currently reading, recommended by Jacob]

    All new square foot gardening: grow more in less space! by Mel Bartholemew [a contrasting strategy to the first book, good intro to gardening for beginners]

    • Oh Yonghao August 6, 2014, 3:00 pm

      Square Foot Gardening has been the basis for all my gardens. It makes it so easy to plan out and maintain a garden anywhere without having to deal with too many weeds. We’ve had great success in applying his methods. Too bad now we don’t have a place with enough sunshine to really do a garden. Our little yard is sandwiched between two houses with more across the alley to the south. Still managed to grow tomatoes this year.

  • The Money M onk January 6, 2012, 7:09 am

    “Crash Proof” by Peter SchifF, and “Return of the Great Depression” by Vox Day are both great for getting a grasp on what is going to be happening in the world of finance and economics over the next few years.

    I recommend reading both, as one foresees inflationary outcomes, and the other deflationary.

    Also check out one of my favorites, “the art and science of Dumpster Diving” by John Hoffman. Great stuff!

    Love the site man keep up the good work.

  • Jimbo January 6, 2012, 7:17 am

    Hi MMM!

    I came across your blog two days ago… Two work days of very low productivity + three nights of laugh out loud reading later, I have read your entire blog, including comments.

    Good work, by far the best in this category. You give great advice, however you are kind of preaching to the choir… Me included. I’ll share my story later.

    I wanted to comment on every single posts I read, but i will concentrate on the future, and just be sad i missed all the fun in the past months…

    About the book list, two things :

    1) You should give one or two of the best Home Improvement books you have enjoyed. I’m sure there are great ones and so so ones.

    2) My life would not be the same without fiction books… There are so many good ones, so many ones that can change a life… Art in general is great food for the brain. Don’t overlook that! And fiction/essays can be great! Especially with some free time…

    Voila, my two cents.

  • Mustachian Acolyte January 6, 2012, 7:31 am

    I finished reading “The Intelligent Investor” last night (borrowed from the library, of course :). A truly solid book, as everyone says, and it gives you the grounding to be an “investor” in the market and not just a “speculator”.

    My take-away is that, along with indexing / diversification, dividend investing is the way to go. Put another way, Graham laid out the theoretical justification for avoiding non-dividend stocks. Not to mention a few other tid-bits :)

    I’m looking forward to chipping away at this list, thanks!

    • chrm January 6, 2012, 5:07 pm

      I think your summary doesn’t do it justice, “The Intelligent Investor” is a lot more. Graham explains, as I find very convincing, why investing is *not* a random walk down Wall Street. I especially like the fact that it was last revised 1973 by Graham and the commentary from 2003 by Jason Zweig shows: it still makes sense, even in the dot-com bubble.

      The important parts are the difference between price and (intrinsic) value, the concept of “Mr. Market” and the margin of safety.

      • Peter January 8, 2012, 9:17 am

        I agree; the version with commentary by Jason Zweig really updates the somewhat dated (but timeless) Graham.

  • Kevin January 6, 2012, 7:44 am

    Just heard about a new book called “Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy” – sounds positively mustachian! I’m already on the waiting list at the library.

    You should add the Stoicism book. I read that and loved it.

    • Kevin January 6, 2012, 7:45 am

      Ah – should have read more closely. You did add the Stoicism book. Time for more coffee.

  • El Beardo Numero Uno January 6, 2012, 9:17 am

    My latest favorite: Practical Electronics for Inventors by Paul Scherz

    This + an Arduino = fun, mind-expanding hardware projects!

  • The Dutch Clean Shave January 6, 2012, 9:25 am

    Marcus Aurelius – Meditations

    Stoic philosophy at its best….
    Available for free via Project Gutenberg.

  • jay January 6, 2012, 9:27 am

    The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. From 1990 to 1998 she wrote a newsletter showing people how to save money by doing many small things (like washing baggies out and re-using them). This is all the newsletters in one place. Some of the info is outdated, but most is timeless. It is especially good for people spendthrifts who did not grow up with a culture of saving (like our grandparents from the depression).

    • Debbie M January 6, 2012, 1:09 pm

      I second this recommendation. The author drastically reduces spending on food, clothing, and entertainment so she can spend more on housing and child raising. Her life is still totally fun.

      Then she also has suggestions from readers with different priorities. And most importantly, she presents many ways to figure out how you can save money, given your own goals, abilities, and resources. So, mostly it’s a toolbox for frugality with the added bonus of lots of specific tips. So you get information both on what your alternatives are and on how to compare any extra time or energy spent to money saved. And anyone can use these strategies, regardless of their income.

      And the best thing is that she is not afraid to look into extreme-seeming tactics. So it’s not a book full of recommendations that would roll a Mustachian’s eyes such as “bring your lunch to work at least once a week” and “maybe a single person doesn’t need a 2500-square-foot house just for him- or herself.”

      • Kathy P. January 6, 2012, 7:07 pm

        Gonna third this suggestion. Amy Dacyczyn IS the frugal zealot – she’s withdrawn from the celebrity status she attained while publishing the newsletter and when the books came out, but she still pops up in interviews on Youtube. One of the best is here: http://youtu.be/AUFyD-FTf-E

        • Debbie M January 7, 2012, 8:21 am

          In that video, she says that if you track your spending, it will become obvious where your trouble lies and so you don’t need to buy her book. But the great thing about the book is that it helps you remember to try to think of alternatives and it shows you a lot of specific alternatives. Most of the time we’re already doing things in the way we think is best. But to make a change, we take time to a) actually try to think of other ways of doing some of the things we’re doing and b) really think what it might be like to try those other ways instead of dismissing them offhand for some reason that may turn out to be no big deal.

          For example, she gets a lot of her stuff at garage sales, and if you’ve ever been to a garage sale, you know that most of the stuff at garage sales is junk, so it’s easy to dismiss garage saling as a tactic. So it’s nice to read about things people have actually found, how much longer it actually takes to find things shopping in this way and how to hold out that long, how much money you actually save shopping for things in this way, and strategies for making the process more fun and efficient. After reading all that, you might become willing to try out a few garage sales yourself again, and after trying it, you might find that you like something about it.


          I like her better in book form than in interview form: she has more time to explain things and I really like her line drawings! On the other hand, I never pictured her big house “with attached barn” looking that amazing.

          • Kathy P. January 7, 2012, 9:05 am

            Wanted to mention for those that may not be familiar with the books, that in one of them she says they raised all those kids on less than $30K a year. ‘Course this was 20 years ago or so, but still that’s not a lot. And they always had money in savings. I remember reading somewhere that the income from the newsletter helped them pay off that beautiful house early but they saved up a big down payment before the bought it, which is why they didn’t have to settle for a little “starter” home. I never got the feeling that their day to day expenses came from the newsletter, instead it was “invested” in paying off the mortgage.

            And for those with kids, her books are jammed with ideas for frugal kid-raising.

  • Sean January 6, 2012, 9:28 am

    This isn’t strictly a book, but Warren Buffett’s letters to shareholders belong on the list: http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/letters.html

    I’d recommend reading them all starting with the first. Very eye-opening.

  • Alice January 6, 2012, 9:41 am

    philosophically “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl is a required read IMHO

    For YMOYL may want to recommend the newest version as the treasury strategy in the original may not stand up today

  • Mike Key January 6, 2012, 10:28 am

    I’d take Rich Dad, Poor Dad off the list. I read that book a long time ago, when I got involved in multi-level marketing and it wasn’t until I escaped that nonsense that I later stumbled onto a lot of information about Mr. Kiyosaki being a complete and total fraud who knows how to pandore to his audience. Not saying he isn’t rich, but his writing is designed to sell to a target audience. Rich Dad, Poor Dad was specifically written for the MLMer’s of the world. And it’s often the most cited book out there by people in MLMing.


    Trent Hamm of the Simple dollar write a great piece about him back in 2007. It was actually his blog and website that started me down this path after exiting MLM and I ended up finically free 2 1/2yrs later. While I have former friends still throwing away their lives in those systems.

    Anyways great lists of books. And even if you do read it, it won’t hurt.

    • jay January 6, 2012, 12:24 pm

      I agree. Take Rich Dad Poor Dad off the list. It is not aimed at Mustachians

      • MMM January 6, 2012, 4:29 pm

        I’ll add a note that some Mustachians question the selection.

        I don’t know much about the history of the Kiyosaki dude himself, but the principle is still sound of teaching beginners a new way to think about money.

        Then again, it’s a pretty big book to read just to get that one little point across, so maybe it would be a waste of time to check that one out of the library.

  • FreeUrChains January 6, 2012, 11:03 am

    Books from “The Count of Monte Cristo” has he invests his Treasure of Sparta wisely to get his revenge:

    The Prince~ Machievelle
    The Wealth of Nations~ Adam Smith

    Books for Martial Artists who are also Frugal Fighters and Video Game Strategists:

    The Art of War~ Sun Tzo
    The Book of Five Rings~ Musashi Miyamotto

    Google Books has Free Library content from anything before 1929,
    Interesting things to research if you want to find the hidden Truth and more mysteries:

    Nichola Tesla “Experiments with Alternating Current and High Frequencies”
    Anything related to Tesla

    ERE is a great Book and Jacob’s Blog is Fantastic!

  • Brandon Quinn January 6, 2012, 11:14 am

    Fail Safe Investing by Harry Browne. This little book will introduce you to his permanent portfolio concept, which by the way is 25% stocks, 25% bonds, 25% gold and 25% cash and his 17 golden rules of financial safety. I’m also reading his book “How to Live Free in an Unfree World”. He’s written numerous books on investing and libertarian views.

  • Phil F January 6, 2012, 11:48 am

    Crucial Conversations: Tools For Talking When The Stakes Are High is a great book. I was forced to read it at work, and unlike most of the nonsense books they make me read, I really enjoyed this one and took a lot of value out of it. Some of it is “well… duh!” simple, but there are great jewels of wisdom scattered throughout the whole thing. It has great advice for business and personal conversations.

    For history, it’s hard to do better than A Story of Civilization by Will Durant. It was written in the 30s-50s and is 11 books long (going from Ancient Egypt all the way through Napoleon). Absolutely delightful.

  • Mrs. Money Mustache January 6, 2012, 12:05 pm

    I recommend these random lady books (no, they’re not really just for ladies):

    – Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes (http://radicalhomemakers.com/)

    – Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew (http://www.squarefootgardening.com/)

    – Roots, Shoots, Buckets, and Boots: Gardening Together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy

    – The Case for the Only Child by Susan Newman (I haven’t read this one yet, but have read her previous book “Parenting an Only Child: The Joys and Challenges of Raising Your One and Only”. I’m assuming this is an updated version of that book)

    – How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor by Ernie J. Zelinski (easy, fun read for those who need inspiration)

    I also highly recommend Dr. Seuss to everyone. :)

    • Kevin January 9, 2012, 8:45 am

      My wife and I just took “Radical Homemakers” out of the library yesterday, before even reading this comment. It sounds very mustachian as well. Very much looking forward to reading it.

  • Paul Grant January 6, 2012, 1:08 pm

    Economics of Good and Evil: The Quest for Economic Meaning, from Gilgamesh to Wall Street by Tomas Sedlacek

  • Babbfish January 6, 2012, 2:53 pm

    How to Survive Without a Salary: Learning How to Live the Conserver Lifestyle. Charles Long.

    • Bullseye January 11, 2012, 10:42 am

      Second this! It was the book that started my financial journey, and my first eye opener that you have other options in life besides the standard path of school-career-retire-die

      Also wanted to add that all of the books above that I want to read are available at my local library! I’m often amazed at what i can get there, considering this is a smallish city of 150k people.

  • chrm January 6, 2012, 5:18 pm

    I havn’t read it yet, but I have seen good reviews for “Margin of Safety” by Seth A. Klarman. And there has to be a reason why it sells for 1k $ on ebay ;-)

    But you don’t have to spend so much money, or even go to the library, you can just download it from the internets :-)

    • Greg October 5, 2012, 6:30 pm

      Margin of Safety is about extreme value investing, and thus involves buying individual stocks.

      If you want to do that, great, but MMM is more into using no-load index funds (like at Vanguard).

  • Andrew January 6, 2012, 6:21 pm

    Hi MMM.

    I’m curious about books to learn the skills needed to get by via your own hand so you don’t have to rely on expensive outside help.

    I’m specifically interested in skills like carpentry that allow you to build and repair broken things.

    I have no “fix it” skills to speak of, and am interested in learning some.

    A post on how to pick up these sort of skills would be great. Books suggestions would also be great.

  • JJ January 6, 2012, 6:43 pm

    The most fascinating book on capitalism, finance, and free markets that I’ve ever read is “The Other Path” by Hernando De Soto. The book chronicles the informal economy in Peru in the 1980s. It sounds incredibly boring. It’s not. It is hands down, the best book I’ve ever read on how free markets and capitalism can begin to develop.

    I’m not going to recommend it because you probably get recommendations all the time being Mr. Money Mustache and all. I’ll just say that I’ve read several of the books on your list and this one’s better.

  • tdd January 6, 2012, 7:44 pm

    I have been really interested in reading Plenitude as well. There are some really cool ideas on the blog.

  • JJ January 6, 2012, 8:37 pm

    As an aside, you are merely one solitary whisker next to the glorious mustachians chronicled in “The Other Path”.

  • Rich M January 6, 2012, 10:19 pm

    Great stuff MMM.

    I’ve read some of those. I also like non-Fiction because I enjoy it but also like to learn something–over some fantasy that is in fiction books.

    But I’m replying because I like to try to shortcut the non-fiction books via Documentaries and Podcasts when I can…


    …has some excellent stuff for free, but viewer beware, it’s full of conspiracy theories and propaganda. It’s up to the intelligent viewer to assess;. But we know the readers of MMM are intelligent. There are some good ones.

    My other favorite “Listen-to’s” is NPR’s “Planet Money” and “Freakonomics’

    PBS is great too, For example is Nova; “Mind over money”

    • Bakari January 7, 2012, 2:27 pm

      Thanks for the link!

      I suspected this would be on there, and it was:

      The Century of The Self has just straight history, no conspiracy theories, and it explains why and how America came to be such a consumerist society.
      Must see for anyone who ever makes or spends money in the United States

  • Carlos January 7, 2012, 1:46 am

    ‘The Myth of the Rational Market’ a fun read that gives a history of economics thinking about markets especially the efficient market hypothesis.

    ‘Atlas Shrugged’ not non-fiction but contains a good philosophy.

    ‘The Intelligent Investor’ – worthwhile just for the distinction between investing and speculation.

    Also not books but the khanacademy.org has some great videos on finance and other topics.

  • Stevie G January 7, 2012, 6:58 am

    Stumbled on to your blog to day, good stuff!

    I am somewhat apprehensive about “buying” or borrowing from the library a book about how to make money whether it is in real estate, stock market etc.
    For example my mind always begs the question, if they are doing so well in real estate why are the writing books and not doing real estate?

    • MMM January 7, 2012, 8:15 am

      Probably because they enjoy writing and trying to teach people. It may sound silly, but those are the same reasons I write this blog.. Occasionally get criticisms stating that I’m not retired because I have a blog now. That’s just plain wrong, unless I were doing it only because I depended on the $2-$10 per day income it is lucky enough to generate :-)

  • keetersmama January 7, 2012, 8:22 am

    I know this goes against my website but here goes…

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book; it put things into perspective for me. Necessities vs non-necessities Just wish the old hubby would read it and catch on… “Not Buying It- My Year Without Shopping” by Judith Levine

    Something that I personally have been doing for years…Having my co-workers save aluminum cans for me, selling them, and then going to our library book sale and buying books for 50 cents or a dollar and usually even having money for lunch. In other words- I get my books for free and a free lunch. woo hoo! (Not to mention hours of entertainment and knowledge)

    (I have also recently become a Dave Ramsey addict.)

    “Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy” sounds REALLY interesting, too. Thanks for that Kevin!

  • poorplayer January 7, 2012, 9:36 am

    “The Investment Answer” is a very short and direct book written by Gordon Murray and Dan Oldie. It is pretty good primer and can be read in one sitting. Mr. Murray started the book with Mr. Oldie six months before he died, and was one of the researchers behind Dimensional Fund Advisors. More information at http://www.theinvestmentanswerbook.com/index.html.

  • Forest Parks January 7, 2012, 10:02 am

    I really want to get through all of Seth Godin’s books before I tackle these financial ones fully. I have been listening to an audio version of I will teach you to be rich whilst I work though.

  • Jeremy Day January 7, 2012, 11:17 am

    I would also add Napoleon Hill’s “Think & Grow Rich” Its pretty much a classic book everyone should read.


    • jlcollinsnh January 7, 2012, 11:44 am

      I just picked up a new book by Napoleon Hill. Yes, I know he’s dead but it seems he wrote this in 1938 and it has been locked away.

      From the forward: “Why? Because they (his heirs) were frightened by the response it would invoke.”

      Haven’t read it yet but, with that line in mind, can’t wait.

      anybody else here familiar with it?

      • jlcollinsnh January 7, 2012, 11:52 am

        guess the title would help:

        Outwitting the Devil

  • Dan January 7, 2012, 11:55 am

    Second the “Life You Can Save” recommendation. We should all take the pledge to help the truly poorest. For Mustachians, modify the pledge slightly- give 5 to 15% of what you spend each year (not of what you earn each year) as that ties into our anti consumerism bent and our desire to not be income focused.

    Also highly recommend Steven Landsburg’s “The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics, and Physics”. Great coherent analysis of how much of societal expectations and norms are totally nonsensical, and how perhaps we should choose smarter paths instead. His blog is great too.

  • Bakari January 7, 2012, 2:22 pm

    I was very happy to see the Selfish Gene on the list. It ranks among my favorites, because it so thoroughly explains the most fundamental existence of life itself, which has, afterall, been one of humanities deepest questions at least since the invention of language.

    Finance is all well and good, esp. for a blog like this, and it is well represented.
    On the topic of learning and understanding the world around you, a good solid base of scientific understanding facilitates learning in every subject, as it allows you to see the connections between seemingly unrelated subjects, and distinguish legitimate information from superstition, marketing, and other bunk.

    I recently finished *A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
    (the astrix is in the original title) of which the title is surprisingly accurate – it covers the formation of the universe, the formation of the Earth, the formation of habitable conditions, the formation of life, and the formation of humanity.
    Instead of just listing a bunch of facts, though, it also covers the history of science itself, and how we came to know what we know, what sort of experiments have been done to test all the theories, and the personalities and lives of the individuals who made each discovery. If you were only going to read one book on science, ever, it should probably be this one. It doesn’t have any mathematical formulas, but it gives you an overall understanding of, well, everything, in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible in under 500 pages.

    How The Mind Works by Steven Pinker sort of picks up where the Selfish Gene left off in explaining human behavior. Again, it is true to it’s title – it isn’t explaining the synapse connections of synapses in the brain, but rather the more abstract mind itself. It explains how we think, and also why.

    Applying the concepts from that last book to the mistakes we make as a result is perhaps one of the most important things any human could ever learn. Understanding our own mental shortcomings facilitates learning and strongly ties in with the “Struck by Lightning” ideas. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely covers in great detail what our cognitive bias are, why they exists, what sort of results they cause, and some ways we might avoid them. For a taste of it, look for the TED Talk by Ariely, or any of about a dozen articles he’s written that you can find online.

    I would have mentioned The Selfish Gene myself, except that of course you already did. It fits perfectly between A Short History, and How the Mind Works, in a natural progression of reading of the 4 books that becomes gradually more specific, until you end with a very solid understanding of human psychology and of your OWN mind and thought processes, which you can then in turn apply to your real life every day, thereby potentially making it better in every way.

    …well, probably not MMM so much, as, from reading this blog, you have already picked up most of those lessons on your own somehow, although I personally guarantee you would find some, if not all, of those books fascinating and informative.

    • MacGyverIt January 7, 2012, 4:59 pm

      “I was very happy to see the Selfish Gene on the list. It ranks among my favorites, because it so thoroughly explains the most fundamental existence of life itself, which has, afterall, been one of humanities deepest questions at least since the invention of language.”

      – I second this observation – when I saw Richard Dawkins’ seminal work on MMM’s list I actually shouted “Yes!!!” :-D

      • jlcollinsnh January 7, 2012, 6:23 pm

        yep, aways nice to see rationality get its due. I need to add The Selfish Gene to my personal reading list.

    • AJDZee October 14, 2013, 9:13 am

      +1 Short History Of Nearly Everything. Great book.

      The World Without Us – Alan Weisman : What would happen to our cities, homes, infrastructure over time if humans were leave the planet.

  • introvertedlurker January 7, 2012, 2:55 pm

    Great list of books. Glad that I’ve already a few of them!

    How about something different: Stoneage Economics by Marshall Sahlins.

    Explains how people haven’t always worked as much as possible to get ahead. Covers how most so called primitive societies worked less than 4 hours a day, and socialized a lot and likely lead more fulfilling lives than the average first world nation dweller might live today. A fun read that shows we weren’t always where we were today.

    Professor Sahlins directly challenges the idea that Western civiliation has provided greater leisure’ or affluence,’ or even greater reliability, than primitive’ hunter-gatherers.”–Whole Earth Review.

  • Sarah January 8, 2012, 5:27 am

    More to add to my TBR pile (not that I need help).
    Have you ever tried podcasts? – the BBC do some very interesting ones at http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts

  • Glenn January 8, 2012, 1:20 pm

    I’m with Bakari when he says, “On the topic of learning and understanding the world around you, a good solid base of scientific understanding facilitates learning in every subject, as it allows you to see the connections between seemingly unrelated subjects, and distinguish legitimate information from superstition, marketing, and other bunk.”

    I’ve been a finance professional for 20 years now, but I really fancy myself an amateur philosopher. Back when I was single, living and working in New York, I was found at least two nights a week taking continuing education courses at NYU or the New School. But not in anything boring like finance. Nope, it was all science, philosophy and literature..all the stuff I didn’t care about when I was in college.

    Nothing is more valuable in life than a well built ‘bullshit’ detector and science and philosophy is how you get one.

    Another book recommendation for MMM is” Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in the Markets and in Life” by Nassim Talib. Check it out.

  • Andy January 8, 2012, 3:28 pm

    Smarter Investing by Tim Hale. For UK readers in addition to / instead of the Berstein books.

    Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. A fascinating book on human judgement and decision making. Not a stricly mustachian tome perhaps, but one for your general science section.

  • Pablo January 8, 2012, 4:25 pm

    As a follow-up to Glenn’s suggestion, The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb is another great book on probabilities and human frailties.

    • curiousfunk January 10, 2012, 7:29 am

      Of the Nassim Taleb books mentioned so far, I though that Fooled by Randomness was the better book. Black Swan introduced some other ideas and expanded on Fooled by Randomness, but its organization and structure were inferior. By comparrison, “Fooled by Randomness” was a page turner. They are both worth reading, but I suggest you read them in order: Fooled, then Black Swan.

      The main take-away for me from Black Swan was this: he distinguishes between two types of randomnness: bound, bell-curve style randomness (distributions of birth weights, for example), and unbound, scalable, power-law style randomness (best-selling novels, financial crashes, etc). In the former, weights will tend to center around some average and outliers (say, a 20 lb baby) are extremely rare or impossible. The bell curve applies to this type. The later type of randomness DOES allow for crazy outliers (a small handfull of 250,000 copies/year best-sellers).

      He complains and warns about economists (“modern portfolio theorists” specifically, using LTCM as an example) and statisticians who (mis)apply bell-curve-style models to unbound non-linear systems.

      I learned a good bit from Black Swan, but it came indirectly. Most of its insights came from trying to explain the purpose of the book to other people.

      And he offers a few new (to me) Yogi Berraisms. Including this gem: “The future will never be the same”.

  • DC January 9, 2012, 8:47 am

    Thank you very much Mr.MM for these recommendations. I’m currently going through the audiobook version of The Millionaire Next Door and, despite being European and the book being too focused on the US example, it’s been a great eye-opener.
    I’m going to read some of those in a particular order. First I’m chancing my way of thinking about money (with The Millionaire Next Door, Rich Dad Poor Dad and Your Money of Your Life) and life (The Magic of Thinking Big). Then moving to tips for frugal lifestyle combined with semi-retirement with The 4 Hour Work Week and others I still have to find.

    • skeetersmama January 12, 2012, 4:06 pm

      You said it very well about “changing your way of thinking about money.” I am having to do this again to some extent. My husband helped steer (spelling ?) me the wrong way for a while, but now I am back on the penny pinching wagon.

      I am already frugal as it is so I can save to buy what I want. I would rather do without then buy the next best thing or a substitiute. Some things aren’t that important to me- just enough shoes and clothes to keep covered. :) Books then food are of great importance and in that order, too.

      Want to do like MMM and only work when needed or when I want. I do that with my online shop already so am sorta practicing.

      • DC January 13, 2012, 7:58 am

        Since I’m almost finishing my degree, I’m going to have a headstart regarding this lifestyle. I’m going to start working without any kind of debt which makes it easier to have this kind of life with few worries and few work. It’s just a question of applying all this right now as I start working.
        I try to be frugal but have many miles to go before being a Mr.MM and a few vices to strugle with, books being the main one:)

  • Partwaythere January 10, 2012, 8:27 am

    3rd, 4th and 5th The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn – available in nearly all public libraries, by Inter-Library Loan if nothing else. “YMOYL” started me on the mustachian path, Amy reinforced it – it’s fun, motivational, practical. I fell off the wagon for a few years, but this blog is lifting me back onto it!
    Note: Amy and her family purposefully picked a rural life. Most of us should substitute “bicycle” for “Suburban” when she talks of ‘driving’ right past the McDonald’s. Although if MMM knew of my car addiction, stuck in sprawl hell as I am, he would punch me in the face. I’m building up backbone as I type this tho because I’ve wanted to go against the flow and bike around it for years but been too chicken (it’s Texas – these people violently hate bicyclists), but I’m going to stiffen up on statistics and do it! Craigslist, here I come!!

    • MMM January 10, 2012, 10:19 am

      Texans who are afraid to bike should look to Lance Armstrong for inspiration. The Ultimate Texan. I’ve driven and walked in cities all over Texas and saw plenty of cyclists, so you won’t be the first.

      Also, I’ve heard the excuse that the car drivers “hate” cyclists in every single city I’ve ever lived in. I’m sure there are examples of such Douche Rockets (thanks Chris) in every city, just as there are MSN commenters who “hate” me because I saved up some money in my 20s.. but the contrast between you and them just serves to illustrate your own badassity. That’s a good thing.

      • Bakari January 10, 2012, 10:50 am

        I immediately thought of Lance too.

        A Texan who beat European’s asses at their own sport, in their own homeland.
        I would have thought that he changed all Texan’s minds on cycling

      • Partwaythere January 11, 2012, 11:43 am

        @ MMM – It’s a deal. I haven’t finished all your posts yet, but I hope there is one on ‘how to pick a good used bike’ – otherwise, a good topic for future post because I’m clueless. This week I’m focused on bread recipes as I pulled my bread machine out of garage storage after reading your post on $750 (and up) savings on making bread – made soup and bread last night that my husband thought was better than any 5 star restaurant. I just finished my $100 savings challenge and that’s a topic for another day. It was painful – and I only did it because of MMM. Perhaps a guest post from me someday on ‘not throwing good money after bad’ – return your mistake, no matter how painful it is.

        @Bakari. No one bicyclist, even Lance Armstrong can overcome the huge influx of drivers to Texas, the incomparable sprawl designed around the car, and the complainypants Texans’ entitlement to drive as fast as they want in their monster trucks and SUVS.. Or headlines that read “Cyclists killed” on a regular basis. I realize that’s like thinking flying is dangerous and plan to overcome my fear. If I’m bizarrely killed on a bike I’ll tell my husband to assume I died happy – because I really have wanted to do this for years and thank this blog for getting me off my fear-rear. Seriously, when gas was at it’s highest a woman pulled into the gas station next to my 10 year old Toyota Corolla that gets 35 mpg with her huge honkin’ SUV and had the nerve to complain about gas prices. I looked at her car, looked at mine and said “I don’t think they are high enough yet.” My husband worries an angry driver will shoot me someday NOW, and can’t imagine me on a bike. OH WELL!

        • Bullseye January 11, 2012, 11:55 am

          Skip the bread machine, and use this instead;


          I retired my machine after my first loaf. Tastes like a $5 loaf from the bakery, but costs less than $.40!

          There are some YouTube videos as well about this recipe, search on the bakery name.

          • Partwaythere January 11, 2012, 12:10 pm

            I’ve used this recipe before and it rocks indeed but it can’t replace the bread machine. For everyday bread you don’t have to remember to set rise etc. you can’t beat dumping things in the machine and setting it. For fancy meals, I love the above, but I’ll never retire my machine again – especially since in hot hot summer I can set the machine on the back porch and keep the heat out of the house! I can’t imagine what possessed me to put it away and pay the fortune that a good ww loaf costs.

        • Bakari January 11, 2012, 12:14 pm

          If MMM doesn’t beat me to it, I’ll write a blog on how to choose a good used bike
          (I used to be a bike messenger, a bike mechanic, have done a 2800 mile tour, and been car free half my adult life – and my 5 bikes cost me a grand total of $400 between them)
          Sometime next week. http://www.biodieselhauling.org/blog and/or http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/
          and I’ll try to remember to come back and post a direct link on this comment.

          I didn’t figure Lance would convince everyone to go out riding themselves, but maybe to at least hate cyclists a little less.

          When I fill up my moto-bike (70MPG, 5 gallon tank) I like to loudly comment to myself the total cost of my fill-up, and how many miles I traveled (250 miles on $15, more or less)

          Good luck with the Texans

          • Partwaythere January 11, 2012, 4:21 pm

            Thanks! be sure to link it so other newbies can learn too. MMM should do the same – it’s a much needed topic. Then I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

            • Bakari January 17, 2012, 12:52 pm


              Its been so long since I have written, I had completely forgotten how time consuming and life enveloping it can be.
              Major major props to MMM (and the many others like him) for taking the time to share with us for a few dollars a day.

            • MMM January 17, 2012, 2:04 pm

              Haha.. I don’t do all this work for a few dollars a day! I do it to save the whole Human race from destroying itself through overconsumption! And for a few laughs as well.

            • MMM January 17, 2012, 2:23 pm

              Another perspective on bike buying – Bakari’s guide is GREAT!.. but…

              .. the price of new bikes has dropped in half in the last 10-15 years, and you can now get a GOOD new bike from Nashbar for $300 – $350 (at least with the current sales that happen often in the offseason). Looking at the store right now, I like the GT Transeo 4.0 for $289, and the Diamondback STI-8 for $350. My own main bike is a K2 Astral 3.0 which was about $300 at Nashbar a few years ago. It is all aluminum, snappy, tight, and sturdy. It has well over 2000 miles on it so far and hasn’t needed so much as an adjustment other than pumping up tires and patching/changing tubes after I run accidentally over cacti. This is the best city/casual road bike I’ve ever owned.

              I do appreciate bike technology and I have stripped them down to the individual ball bearing and rebuilt them since the early 1990s. So when I say these modern midrange bikes have good parts, I am at least somewhat aware of what constitutes goodness.

              Why would I advocate new over Craigslist? I’m not – you should still check Craig’s. But because many sellers aren’t aware of how cheap good bikes have become in recent years, they often ask too much for the old bikes that are less good than new ones. For example, old road bikes had shifters on the downtube. This is slower and more dangerous for city use, compared to thumb shifters up near the handgrips. And unless you are buying from a bike shop owner, a used bike may need frequent adjustment, while a new bike is quite trouble-free for years. Freedom from problems is a good way to tempt new riders to use their bikes more often.

            • Bakari January 17, 2012, 8:50 pm

              The primary reason I wrote that was just because someone specifically asked for it.

              I’m a fan of Nashbar too – that was the first mail order purchase I ever made, when I was 15. In fact, I recommend them in my guide (for accessories).

              All of the first steps in the guide would apply equally well to someone looking to buy a new bike too, but the primary reason I advocate used is because it breaks the manufacture-in-china ship-to-the-US pay-mark-up throw-into-landfill cycle that has become the norm in the US.
              Plus, no tax or shipping charges.

              I don’t doubt Nashbar bikes have come a long way, but even a new bike from the shop needs some adjustments in the first year to be in optimal operating condition (cables stretch, spokes settle, bearing tension was set without having been ridden). Whether a bike is new or used, its a good idea to have it checked out within a few months of purchase. If you buy from a local bike shop that tune up is usually free. If you buy used or mail order, you will be paying for it out of pocket.

              I suppose your specific area makes a big difference. Where I live people look at you funny if you DON’T ride a bike, so that keeps prices more reasonable (like the 4 year old C-dale with disk brakes for sale right now for $260 or the $800 FX-3 for $300). The ones at Nashbar are definitely great bikes for the price for being new, don’t get me wrong, but at least where I live, you can get a lighter bike with higher quality components for the same price from Craigslist.

  • mjr January 13, 2012, 1:21 pm

    ‘The Wealthy Barber’ – two highlights that were pointed out that were not mentioned in other books that I’ve read so far. Don’t ask me which books I’ve read. I’m pretty sure those were brought up somewhere that I might have missed out.

    Life Insurance and Estate Planning

    I’m still stratching my head about life insurance since it suggested to get one if you’re financially screwed aka debts or no savings/investments. If you’re financially secured, then stash those extra into savings or investments instead of life insurance.

    Estate planning – I’m trying to figure out who will get my money when I pass away. Not accepting your suggestions on who to give away.

  • Partwaythere January 17, 2012, 3:25 pm

    Thank you MMM for taking the time to try to save us all. My husband is now all ‘geared up’ on the bike thing too, but we’ll see if it is a flash in the pan. I believe many of the new voluntary simplistics are trying to save the world also – it sure needs saving. For now – I did Amy Dacyczyn’s favorite thing and asked if anyone had a bike I could borrow. One appeared that afternoon. I bought a helmet and am trying it out. I’d forgotten how fun it is!

  • Leslie January 18, 2012, 9:00 pm

    Have you read Walden by Henry David Thoreau? I’m reading it now for the first time, catching up on classics I was never forced to read in school, and it strikes me as very Mustachian.

  • A January 21, 2012, 8:26 pm

    You should make a list on goodreads.com for people to subscribe to.

    • Francisco June 17, 2016, 6:18 pm

      +1 on this.

      Or at least, MMM should put the goodreads link for each book.

  • Barbara February 29, 2012, 2:51 pm

    Stop Working, Start Living by Dianne Nahirney is a very good personal story about a Canadian woman who retired early. She used a lot of mustachian principles to make early retirement possible. Before I retired I read it at least once a year because it inspired me to reach for that goal. Now I read it every couple of years, because it’s entertaining.

  • Joe June 5, 2012, 2:42 pm

    You and your readers should read The Power of Habit, it’s an amazing book. A lot of your writing boils down to changing one’s habits. This book teaches you how to do that.

  • GregK June 8, 2012, 1:32 pm

    Haha holy crap… it’s REALLY good that you included authors, because someone might have ended up borrowing the horrifying book also titled “Your Money or Your Life,” but written by Fox News host Neil Cavuto! (Seriously, looking at reviews on Amazon, at least one person has made this mistake…!)


  • Uncephalized June 12, 2012, 4:12 pm

    The Selfish Gene is a life-changing book. It will change the way you look at every living thing you see, if you let it really sink in. I’ve read it 3 times. Great recommendations. I need to get cracking on a few of those financial titles! Time to hit the library…

  • Uncephalized June 12, 2012, 4:14 pm

    One of the things I resent most about full-time employment is that I don’t have time to read books any more. I can cheat during my workday and read blogs and fora, but I can’t sit in my office and read a book except while eating lunch. I used to devour two or three of novels or non-fiction titles a week.

    • Amonymous August 10, 2016, 11:04 pm

      +1 from my office desk

  • Georgia July 25, 2012, 11:50 am

    I would highly recommend The Freedom Manifesto (published in the UK as How to Be Free) by Tom Hodgkinson. While I don’t agree with everything he says, he has some great ideas about questioning our day-to-day assumptions and ways to live a richer life.

    I also think How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff and Irving Geiss should be required reading for everyone. It really helps you learn how to see through a lot of BS in advertising, among other things. (And it’s really fun!)


Leave a Reply

To keep things non-promotional, please use a real name or nickname
(not Blogger @ My Blog Name)

The most useful comments are those written with the goal of learning from or helping out other readers – after reading the whole article and all the earlier comments. Complaints and insults generally won’t make the cut here, but by all means write them on your own blog!


welcome new readers

Take a look around. If you think you are hardcore enough to handle Maximum Mustache, feel free to start at the first article and read your way up to the present using the links at the bottom of each article.

For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time or download the mobile app. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

latest tweets