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 Malkiel – a 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 Bernstein – examines 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.
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.
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.
Another interesting book is Common Sense On Mutual Funds by John Bogle.
This guy seems to know a lot about this subject. It was. Slow read to me but is out in paperback.