A Few Good Books

This is a short list of a few terrific books, by authors who really know how to get valuable ideas across. Click on a book cover or title for more information and to read other people's reviews on Amazon.

Benjamin Graham
The Intelligent Investor
This book really works on your psychology, helping you to invest in a businesslike way and tune out the distracting mood swings of "Mr. Market." This serene attitude has elevated Graham to Zen master status among serious investors; Warren Buffett, his most famous protege, calls this "the best book about investing ever written."


William Bernstein
The Four Pillars of Investing
The four pillars being the Theory, History, Business, and Psychology of investing - understanding these topics will help you make sensible plans, and then stick with them despite the worst efforts of market volatility, investment salesmen and pundits, and even your own overheated brain. There is also strategic advice about assembling a portfolio that fits your own needs and risk tolerance.


Steven Silbiger
The Ten Day MBA
Want to get the equivalent of a Harvard business education for about twenty dollars? No problemo. Silbiger gets to the essence of many useful topics, and explains them in a clear, no-nonsense, and good-humored style. Chapters include Accounting, Finance, Business Statistics, and more... and there is even a cheesy diploma you can hang up after you finish the book (which contains much more than ten days worth of information, by the way).


Leopold A. Bernstein, John J. Wild
Analysis of Financial Statements
A professional-grade guide to interpreting financial statements, but written in a clear style that makes it accessible to non-accountants. Discussions and examples help make things relevant by putting you in the roles of different people - from the management consultant looking for ways to make the company more profitable, to the stock investor deciding whether you want it in your portfolio.


Robert Shiller
Irrational Exuberance
Why do markets bubble and crash? "For no good reasons" is the conclusion of this book, which explores the nature (as opposed to the logic) of speculative markets. The good news is that by recognizing market exuberance you can avoid being swept up in it yourself: forewarned is forearmed.


John C. Bogle
Common Sense on Mutual Funds
The creator of low cost index funds sings their praises. Bogle shows why you can't find a managed fund that will beat its index, and that fund fees hurt performance a lot more than you think. He also shares common sense on the workings of the market versus investors' unrealistic expectations, helping you accept the "triumph of experience over hope."


Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer, and Michael LeBoeuf
Bogleheads' Guide to Investing
Some of John Bogle's most grateful followers present a lifetime financial guide, helping you with saving, investing (in low cost index funds, of course!), insurance, taxes, and estate planning. You can also learn from them at their online forum, Bogleheads.org.


Burton G. Malkiel
A Random Walk Down Wall Street
The author introduces a number of investment approaches, including Fundamental Analysis and Modern Portfolio Theory, describes them carefully... and then uses statistical data to tear them to shreds. The overall focus is on warning you away from strategies that don't work. He also offers some positive results (chiefly that stocks indicated as undervalued by traditional ratios tend to outperform the market) and some useful advice. If a little constructive negativity doesn't depress you, this is a helpful survey.


Nassim Taleb
Fooled by Randomness
Would you believe that some people trick themselves into underestimating investment risks, or seeing market trends that aren't really there? This readable book explores the nature of market randomness, helping you avoid losses by distinguishing true pattern from mere "noise". There is also some bracing classical philosophy to help you deal with uncertainty and attain grace under chaos (like, y'know, Solon's Retort to Croesus..?)


Peter Bernstein
Capital Ideas
The story of Modern Portfolio Theory, with insights into the thinking and personalities of its big names, including Markowitz, Tobin, Sharpe, Fama, and other stars. The author also reveals enough about his own background to make things interesting: he was a financial advisor and stock picker before becoming a convert to MPT. This is a non-technical and informative overview; well-told and enjoyable to read.


Larry Gonick, Woollcott Smith
The Cartoon Guide to Statistics
(No, really!) Lots of people have a mental block that makes learning statistics absolutely impossible, but throw in some cartoons and suddenly things seem simple. This is not a dumbed-down book; it can give you a thorough and intuitive understanding of basic statistics. Topics include standard deviation, the normal distribution, sampling, linear regression, Bayes' theorem, and more. You won't just learn formulas here; you'll really "get" where they come from and why they make sense.


Norman Frumkin
Guide to Economic Indicators
This is meant to be a reference, but it's so well written that you can read it as a general guide: you won't be frustrated by jargon or choppy, dictionary-like writing. Entries give you a sense of what economists really have to do to get a handle on where the economy is going, explaining where the data comes from, how it's measured, and what it all means. This is a good place to learn a lot about the economy in a hurry.


Charles Wheelan
Naked Economics
An enjoyable guide to real world economics written for smart, happening adults. The style is logical without being technical - no "dismal" charts and equations here - and the approach is refreshingly unbiased: Wheelan wants to teach you how to think, not sell you on a particular agenda. (One example: he's pro-globalization but he still doesn't want a McDonald's across the street from his house - exactly the kind of semi-contradiction grownups have to deal with on planet Earth.)








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Plus, a Few More Good Books

A few other, more specialized books are mentioned on these pages:

Index Funds Article Links Page

Valuation Article -
    PEG Ratio
    Price/Sales Ratio
    Dividend Discount Model
    Links Page

Portfolio Theory Article Links Page

Econ Corner Links Page

Stock Tips from Karl Marx


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