Warren Buffett said it best: “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.” Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned investor in need of a refresher, reading some of the best investing books is a great way to sharpen your knowledge. With these books, you can pick Peter Lynch’s brain, learn the history of Wall Street or simply figure out if you’re ready to use that spare money tucked away in your savings account to start investing. And if you want some extra guidance as you apply your newly acquired knowledge to your portfolio, consider enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor.
1. The Oldie But Goodie: “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham
Warren Buffett praised “The Intelligent Investor” as “the best book on investing ever written.” He’s certainly not the only person to hail it as such. Though Benjamin Graham – also known as the “godfather of value investing” – wrote this investing book way back in 1949, it remains as relevant as ever. Graham’s widely embraced philosophy of value investing, a strategy focused on making long-term wealth gains while limiting risk, is front and center. He also tucks in tidbits on the stock market‘s history and tips on how to analyze a stock.
Goodreads Rating: 4.23 stars
2. The Look Inside Warren Buffett’s Head: “The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America” by Warren Buffett, ed. Lawrence Cunningham
Once you’ve read Warren Buffett’s favorite investing book, move onto “The Essays of Warren Buffett.” This book of Buffett’s letters over the years to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders is expertly compiled and introduced by investing author Lawrence Cunningham. The essays, on topics like corporate governance, common stock and valuation, give a glimpse into Buffett’s business practices and investment philosophy.
Goodreads Rating: 4.39 stars
3. The Readable Breakdown of the Basics: “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” by Burton Malkiel
Burton Malkiel’s “A Random Walk Down Wall Street” boils down the basics without sacrificing readability. In his guide to navigating the market and managing investments, Malkiel advocates for the broad-based index fund over stock picking. A good investing book to read before starting a portfolio, Malkiel offers tips on assessing potential returns on everything from stocks and bonds to money markets and home ownership.
Goodreads Rating: 4.08 stars
4. The Confidence Booster: “One Up on Wall Street” by Peter Lynch
In “One Up on Wall Street,” renowned investor Peter Lynch argues that average investors can rival professionals. What the everyman needs to do, Lynch explains, is pay close attention to the products and services they encounter on a daily basis. Those observations made at work or at the grocery store can translate into valuable, on-the-ground knowledge that can inform investments. Beyond that, Lynch explains which of these services and products could actually be a good investment.
Goodreads Rating: 4.17 stars
5. The Easy-to-Use Roadmap: “The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing” by Taylor Larimore, Michael LeBoeuf, Mel Lindauer
“The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing” is a recommendable read for anyone, regardless of how old you are or how much money you have. This investing book is essentially a roadmap to investing in the conservative, low-risk style of Vanguard founder John Bogle. After going over the basics, the easy-to-use guide breaks down all different types of investments. Overarching guidance on financial planning ties it all together.
Goodreads Rating: 4.26 stars
6. The Guide for What Not To Do: “The 5 Mistakes Every Investor Makes and How To Avoid Them” by Peter Mallouk
While many investing books focus on what to do, Peter Mallouk’s book helpfully points out what not to do. “The 5 Mistakes Every Investor Makes and How To Avoid Them” offers readers a primer on the market’s risks. Mallouk then explains how to avoid those pitfalls, such as letting one’s biases cloud decision-making. The book is short, sweet and to-the-point, yet informationally dense.
Goodreads Rating: 4.31 stars
7. A Window Into a Professional Investor’s Mind: “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing” by John C. Bogle
Whereas stocks are typically the focal point of conversations surrounding investing, John Bogle takes a different route in “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns.” Bogle uses in-depth explanations of index investing and mutual funds to illustrate a less risky alternative to traditional stocks. The book also contains some of Bogle’s personal anecdotes to help make these concepts more real.
“The Little Book of Common Sense Investing” is just over 200 pages, making it a very manageable read. Although a bit repetitive, the book offers distinct, real world advice in simple language.
Goodreads Rating: 4.16 stars
8. Complicated, but Necessary: “Security Analysis: Principles and Technique” by Benjamin Graham, David L. Dodd
Benjamin Graham and David Dodd’s “Security Analysis” was originally published back in 1934. There are multiple editions of this 700-page book, including one with a foreword written by Warren Buffett. In this, he raves about Graham and Dodd’s work, even stating that “they laid out a roadmap for investing that I have now been following for 57 years.”
Although “Security Analysis” is a bit dense, its information is integral to a deep understanding of investing. Due to the age of this book, some of its contents are slightly outdated. Nevertheless, the overarching lessons still readily apply today. It teaches the reader how to do things like evaluate a company’s intrinsic value, diversify and account for risk.
Goodreads Rating: 4.33 stars
The more you read, the more you’ll know. This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the array of quality investing books available. After the basics, consider picking up a more topic-specific tome, like Michael Lewis’ “Liar’s Poker.” Or maybe pick up a book centered around a historical financial event, like John Kenneth Galbraith’s “The Great Crash 1929.”
Tips If You’re Just Starting to Investing
- Make a plan and figure how much you want to put into the market. Then try mapping out a diverse portfolio. To get an idea of how your investments could grow over time, stop by SmartAsset’s investment calculator.
- Investing is a complicated process that requires significant research to make informed decisions. If you don’t want to do all the work yourself, consider speaking to a financial advisor. A matching tool like SmartAsset’s can help you find a person to work with to meet your needs. First you’ll answer a series of questions about your situation and goals. Then the program will narrow down your options from thousands of advisors to up to three registered investment advisors who suit your needs. You can then read their profiles to learn more about them, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future. This allows you to find a good fit while the program does much of the hard work for you.
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All Goodreads ratings in this story are as of April 2019.