My Library

In the weekly newsletter that goes out every Saturday evening, I include books that I’ve been reading. Most, but not all, relate to finances and investing. I try to read at least one book a week, and the list has grown significantly in just the past few months.

In response to an email from a newsletter subscriber, I’m going to track all of the books I read right here. Note that an asterisk (*) next to a title means it’s an editor’s pick. Three asterisks (***) mean it’s a must read. I don’t give out very many 3-star reviews.

Investing Books

  • Buffettology by Mary Buffett: Warren Buffett’s former daughter-in-law published this book in 1997 to reveal how he evaluates investments.
  • Tap Dancing to Work*, by Carol Loomis: Loomis is senior editor-at-large at Fortune magazine and a Warren Buffett expert. She edits the annual Berkshire Hathaway letter for Mr. Buffett. This book is a collection of articles she’s written on Buffett over the years.
  • The Little Book of Common Sense Investing* by Jack Bogle: In his letter to shareholders, Warren Buffett singled out this book:  “There are a few investment managers, of course, who are very good – though in the short run, it’s difficult to determine whether a great record is due to luck or talent. Most advisors, however, are far better at generating high fees than they are at generating high returns. In truth, their core competence is salesmanship. Rather than listen to their siren songs, investors – large and small – should instead read Jack Bogle’s The Little Book of Common Sense Investing.”
  • The Warren Buffett Way*** by Robert Hagstrom: I’ve just finished reading the first edition of this book. It is so good I immediately ordered the third edition published in 2013. Be ready to take notes and apply what you learn to companies you are considering as an investment.
  • Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment*** by David Swensen: This could easily be the only investment book you ever read. Swensen has been the Chief Investment Officer of Yale University since 1985 where he manages nearly $25 billion. In his book he lays out a specific asset allocation plan that is spot on. Even Tony Robbins in his book praises Swensen and his portfolio construction (before he then goes off the rails with a bond heavy allocation).
  • The Ultimate Dividend Playbook*** by Josh Peters: This is a must read for anybody wanting to invest in dividend paying stocks. I read it a few years ago and am re-reading it now.  Josh is the editor of Morningstar’s  DividendInvestor newsletter. I’ll be interviewing Josh for the podcast in early March!

Personal Finance Books

  • Your Money Or Your Life* by Vicki Robin: This classic is a must read. I read it many years ago and am reading it again. While I don’t agree with the author’s views on investing, the book does a great job of helping people understand what’s really important in life and money.
  • MONEY Master the Game by Tony Robbins: If you love Tony Robbins, you’ll like this book. If you don’t like Tony Robins, you’ll hate this book. If you’re ambivalent about Tony Robbins, you’ll wish this 600+ page book had been written in about 150 pages. The book is actually more sophisticated than I expected, at least once you strip it of all the motivational fluff. Still, be careful if you read it. His love affair with annuities and bond heavy portfolios is curious.
  • Pound Foolish by Helaine Olen:  The author makes some important points about the finance industry.  Unfortunately, the incessant need to portray us as victims and to attack everything from 401k accounts to compound interest (seriously) ruined it for me.

Productivity & Self-Help Books

  • bird by bird* by Anne Lamott:  This book is a gem.  The author covers the art of writing, which turns out to be more elbow grease than inspiration.
  • Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath: This #1 New York Times Bestseller can help you find and improve your strengths. From the book–“Yet it’s clear from Gallup’s research that each person has greater potential for success in specific areas, and the key to human development is building on who you already are.”
  • On the Shortness of Life* by Seneca:  For a book written 2,000 years ago, its application to life in the 21st century is remarkable. One of my favorite passages–“Can anything be more idiotic than certain people who boast of their foresight? They keep themselves officiously preoccupied in order to improve their lives; they spend their lives in organizing their lives. They direct their purpose with an eye to a distant future. But putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future.”
  • The Happiness of Pursuit* by Chris Guillebeau: The author shares inspiring stories from people who have pursued life in unique and interesting ways. There is something powerful in pursuing meaningful purpose in your life.
  • Linchpin by Seth Godin: I enjoy Seth’s writing, and this book touches on an important topic. How can you be indispensable? He answers that question.
  • The Power of Habit* by Charles Duhigg.  I’ll be incorporating many of the concepts he teaches about creating new habits into future podcasts and articles.  The key concept is that habits can be deconstructed into a cue, routine and reward.  The key to changing a habit is to keep the cue and reward, but change the routine.

Other Books I Love

Not everything that’s important is about money:

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow* by Daniel Kahneman: I’m about half way through this book, and it’s been a real joy to read. It’s not light reading. But you’ll find plenty of ways to apply what you learn about how we think. As an example–“A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.”
Topics: Book Reviews

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