As you’re learning how to invest, one of the best strategies for advancing quickly is to learn from the masters. Rather than repeating the same old mistakes of new investors, it’s useful – and it saves money – to gain the insight and wisdom of the experts. For the cost of a book, you could save thousands of dollars by making smart investing decisions and avoiding dumb ones.
Below are seven of the best investing books ever. They’ve stood the test of time and continue to reward new readers with the wisdom of investing masters.
1. The Intelligent Investor
The Intelligent Investor by Ben Graham is like a shorter, more readable version of Graham’s other famous book Security Analysis (co-authored with David Dodd.) Graham is considered the father of value investing, an investing style where practitioners are looking to buy $1 for $0.75 or less, and he was a key mentor for legendary investor Warren Buffett. Here Graham shows you how to think sensibly about investing and how to avoid the mistakes of so many inexperienced investors.
Graham also introduces a character called Mr. Market – a metaphor for the schizophrenic market, which offers stocks at cheap prices one day and expensive prices the next. This book has many versions from decades past, but recent editions with editor Jason Zweig offer modern commentary that provides perspective on more contemporary events.
2. You Can Be a Stock Market Genius
This book by Joel Greenblatt is a modern classic, and it showcases how to find stocks that are hidden by superficial events, such as spinoffs. It’s become a relatively quick favorite of current investors due to its easy-to-read style, practical examples and humor. Yes, humor! In his inimitable prose, Greenblatt gives you all the details on how to uncover these hidden gems.
For example, using the book’s approach readers would have been able to track PayPal, before it spun off of parent eBay in 2015, and then proceeded to return 400 percent to investors over the next five years.
3. Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits
This classic investing book is another focused on practical examples that show readers how to find attractive stocks that could earn them seriously huge returns. Author Philip Fisher is a giant in the investing world, and he dropped many of his secrets into this book, including the qualities to look for in an attractive business. First written in 1958, this volume still provides so much wisdom that contemporary readers continue to cite Fisher’s work today. One of Fisher’s classic techniques is called the scuttlebutt method, in which he advises investors to see what a company’s rivals say about it, in order to assess the company’s competitive position.
Also worth noting, Warren Buffett says that his own investing approach is a combination of Ben Graham’s and Fisher’s – it’s hard to receive higher praise than that!
4. Beating the Street
Beating the Street is another gem, and it showcases in plain English (and with a no-nonsense style) how to pick winning stocks. It’s from Peter Lynch, the longtime fund manager for Fidelity’s Magellan fund, and one of the most highly regarded investors on the planet. Lynch runs you through some of his own investments at the fund, and shows you where he succeeded and even where he failed, with a kind of ego-less good humor that feels rare on Wall Street.
This book follows up on Lynch’s best-seller One Up on Wall Street, and shows you how to use your experience in daily life to find winning stocks. For example, if you see friends start to buy a new product, its producer could be an attractive stock purchase, and this approach has been called the Lynch method for finding stocks.
5. Margin of Safety
Margin of Safety by Seth Klarman is something of a legend in the world of investing books. Klarman, now a multi-billionaire, published the book in 1991, and it’s remained a holy grail since then. That’s because the book is scarce – it’s never been reprinted, and sellers regularly ask more than $1,000 a copy. The book details Klarman’s conservative, value-based approach to investing, using the principle of margin of safety. That is, he advises you to buy an asset at such a sufficiently low price relative to its probable worth that it would be hard to lose money.
6. Investing in REITs
If you’re interested in investing in real estate in the public stock market, then you’ll want to read Ralph Block’s Investing in REITs. REITs are real estate investment trusts, and they’re among the most popular kinds of stocks because of their typically large dividends and attractive long-term record of returns. This book is quite popular among REIT investors and those learning the field, and it’s already on its fourth edition, after first being published in 1998. Block distills his decades of investing in REITs into the key qualities you need to look for in the sector.
7. The Outsiders
The Outsiders is a fantastic read, even if you’re only somewhat interested in investing. That’s because author William Thorndike narrates the stories of eight unconventional CEOs who go against the grain and create outstanding returns for their shareholders. It’s all about how rational decision-making – despite conventional wisdom – leads to excellent outcomes. It’s the newest book here, but it may be the most engaging for readers of all kinds because of its style. While it sits at the end of this list, it may be the best book to start with if you’re learning about investing.
Reading about investing is one of the highest-return activities you can do. Not only can you learn about how to approach investing smartly from some of the world’s best all-time investors, you can avoid some of the pitfalls that can sink you early on in your journey. As Warren Buffett famously said, “Rule No. 1 is never lose money. Rule No. 2 is never forget Rule No. 1.”
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