Charlie Munger, the right hand man of Warren Buffet at Berkshire Hathaway, is quoted as saying he never met any wise person who did not read a lot. Reading is how we learn about the world around us. We live better when we educate ourselves. Every year I read 20 – 30 books of substance and a handful of entertaining novels I think have a value lesson to teach. Reading is as important as breathing. Many of the greatest books I’ve read were introduced to me the same way you are being introduced to books here, from a blog.
This list is by no means comprehensive. Periodically I will add more posts with a list of books I feel are significant. Most of you have already read several books on this list. No surprise there; people interested in bettering themselves will discover these gems on a regular basis all on their own. There will be a few you have not heard of and now is your opportunity to add to your wealth of knowledge.
Most of these books are available at our favorite meeting place: the library. I recommend visiting your local library and picking up a few books from the list below and few additional nuggets you discover in the House of Knowledge. Some books are too good not to own; I understand. I have provided links for most of the books to Amazon.
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, by: Robert A. Caro
The story of Robert Moses, the greatest builder America ever saw, reveals how our modern world was created in the mind of a genius who never held public office, yet was one of the most powerful men to live in the 20th Century. This massive book will have you eagerly anticipating the fall of Robert Moses. His Machiavellian wielding of power crushed everyone who stood in his way, even Franklin D. Roosevelt. Moses finally gets his moment of humility. It is then the reader realizes how important Robert Moses was to our nation. Robert Moses knew how to get things done. His energy knew no limits. The reader is left wondering how this one man could do so much. The story of Robert Moses is motivating. Reading The Power Broker encourages us all to get out there and get things done.
The Millionaire Mind and The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy, by: Thomas J. Stanley
The veneer comes off the mythos surrounding millionaires when Thomas J. Stanley performs the most in-depth research on America’s wealthy. The illusion of fancy cars and big houses gives way to truth — the wealthy are actually boring. They save a massive percent of their income and invest; they marry and stay married; the wealthy live in average neighborhoods and live in normal homes; they drive reasonable cars; many made their wealthy by owning a business. The average American saves too little and spends too much on wasting assets like fancy cars. These two books are required reading for anyone interested in early retirement and building wealth.
America’s Cheapest Family Gets You Right On the Money: Your Guide to Living Better, Spending Less, and Cashing In On Your Dreams, by: Steve and Annette Economides
With a name like Economides they must be good with money. The lessons this large family shares about money are valuable for everyone. Spending less and enjoying life more are easy when you think about it. The Economides provide a simple roadmap to frugal living without resorting to coupon clipping or other such crazy time wasters. Learn how the Economides shop for groceries only once a month, spend $350, and feed a family of seven. You will need to invest in a freezer though.
Stocks for the Long Run, by: Jeremy J. Siegel
Here is everything you wanted to know about the stock market between two covers. Siegel provides more interesting facts and tidbits about the stock market than a baseball fan talking pitching stats. By looking back to the beginning of Wall Street, Siegel shows how the stock market has a smoother performance than appears when viewed close up. For example, the broad stock indexes average a 7% return over long periods of time. Too often investment advisors use 10% or higher in their illustrations creating a false sense of what the stock market will do. I keep this book on my shelf and pull it out whenever I am curious about anything stock market. There are so many interesting facts about stocks, but I would never trade on them. They are fun to read about, however.
The Intelligent Investor, by: Benjamin Graham
Warren Buffet is the best investor to have ever lived and he learned his investment skills from Ben Graham. The Intelligent Investor is an easier read than Security Analysis, Graham and Dodd’s earlier work. I understand most of you invest in index funds; so do I. Still, understanding what makes investing in stocks and bonds profitable is powerful knowledge. Managing a small percent of your portfolio in individual stocks successfully requires an understanding of what company makes a great investment. The same principles apply when buying a business to run or even in evaluating an investment property purchase.
Steve Jobs, by: Walter Isaacson
Several movies have been made over the last several years trying to capture the flavor of what made Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs. They fail for the most part. Isaacson allows us a look into Jobs’ life and what it was that made Steve Jobs the person he was. Like The Power Broker, this is a book about getting things done. A serious question we should all have is: What makes some people perform at such a high level? Many of the great business leaders do it in one lifetime. Steve Jobs started Apple in his garage and grew the company to the most profitable on the planet all within one lifetime cut short by cancer. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet also did it in one lifetime; neither was born into significant wealth; they earned it all in short period of time.
The list is short, but filled with so much good reading it will take you a while to work through the material. I started with a list of over 50 books and picked the handful I felt would be the best starting point. Browsing through Amazon will yield many more treasures. Don’t forget the library. Find the section of the library that holds the above mentioned books and examine the books surrounding them. You are sure to find buried treasure all along the shelf.