Investing can be complex and risky, and knowing where to invest and how to do it safely is a large concern for those trying to be financially conscious. It's common to hear stories of investment decisions gone awry due to poor preparation and education.
In my career as a retail investor, several books have been particularly influential. If you’re not sure where to begin your reading list, I've compiled a list for you. Here are my top picks for the best reads on investing in 2017.
A Random Walk Down Wall Street
Burton G. Malkiel
A long-time professor of economics at Princeton University, Burton Malkiel is an expert on the art of investing. A Random Walk Down Wall Street is often considered to be one of the first books you should read when thinking about becoming an investor. In addition, the most updated edition of this book offers new chapters and extended information on exchange-traded funds and emerging markets. There’s a reason that this book is a common feature on yearly rankings of the best books in investing. Malkiel’s expert experience and wisdom is a valuable tool for any beginning investor.
The Intelligent Investor
Originally published in 1949 by one of the world’s most influential investors, The Intelligent Investor is referred to by some as the investor’s bible, and has been an essential teaching tool for modern day investing moguls. Graham updated the text four times over the course of his life and this version features annotations and commentary from renowned financial journalist, Jason Zweig. Zweig’s commentary brings the original work into the context of current headlines and markets, applying Graham’s principles to what modern day investors might face when first getting started. This book is a must-read for investors of all experience levels.
The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America
Warren Buffett is a man with a reputation that precedes itself. One of the most famous billionaire businessmen in America, Buffett’s essays are full of wisdom and advice on how to be smart about your investment decisions. Intelligent, poignant and comprehensive, these essays are a private look into how Buffett succeeded with Berkshire Hathaway. Additionally, he discusses his approach to investing in everything from businesses to real estate. This updated version features a new essay in which Buffett reflects on his career at Berkshire and its future. Plus, it features an essay by his business partner, Charlie Munger, on what is called “The Berkshire System. When it comes to Buffett’s wisdom, If you’re going to learn from anyone, it might as well be the best.
Winning the Loser’s Game: Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing
Charles D. Ellis
As a professor at Harvard, Yale and Princeton, Charles Ellis is one of the most renowned consultants out there. In his comprehensive, candid accounts of how to do business smartly and successfully, Ellis recounts the strategies that have made him one of the most sought after advisors on Wall Street. The latest edition was published in early 2017, meaning it has been updated to reflect those strategies on the modern market. With chapters on 401(k) plans, indexing and behavioral economics, Winning the Loser’s Game is a go-to guide for any investor.
Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors
Michael E. Porter
Creator of the MBA course, Industry and Competitive Analysis, Michael E. Porter is an expert professor on competitive strategy at the Harvard Business School. Whilst business and investing can be tricky topics to master, Porter’s book approaches them with simplicity and readability. He tackles industries with a comprehensive breakdown of the five most important forces and abides by strategies such as low cost, differentiation and focus. These are all incredibly helpful in understanding how to predicting competitor behavior. With millions of copies already in circulation, this is one of the best books for beginning investors.
Thinking, Fast and Slow
Winner of a multitude of best book awards, Thinking, Fast and Slow is a must-read for anyone trying to understand the mind's approach to thinking. Kahneman is also a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics, and his expert research breaks down how the brain processes into two parts— System 1 and System 2. His discussion of these systems explains our judgements and where our intuition comes into play. Furthermore, this is essential information to have and understand in the pursuit of investing in the marketplace.
The Long and the Short of It: A Guide to Finance and Investment for Normally Intelligent People Who Aren’t in the Industry
John Kay is an incredibly successful investor and a top professor at some of the best economics programs in the United Kingdom. His book, The Long and Short of It, is a great piece of writing that encourages new investors to take their investments into their own hands. He explains the complexity of the modern market in ways that non-experts can understand and offers advice on sound investment strategies. Not to mention, he gives beginning investors the tools they need to become their own investment managers. Incredibly well-written and enjoyable to read, this book is a great addition to an investor’s library.
John C. Bogle
John C. Bogle comes at the topic of investing with a long career in investing and highly decorated with nods from TIME, Princeton University and FORTUNE. He approaches investing with the kind of patience that comes with experience and common sense. His philosophy relies on diversification of stocks, and an eye for the long game. Not to mention, this philosophy allowed his Vanguard clients to build great portfolios and substantial wealth under his advisement. In his book, Bogle offers his trade secrets and advice on how to make smart investments. It’s the perfect book for beginning investors.
Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School
High school teacher turned millionaire, Andrew Hallam offers his insights on how to be a self-made investor in the modern marketplace. Coming at investment strategies with a look into the basics of financial literacy, Hallam provides a new kind of approach to becoming a successful investor. This is a great book for learning the basics of financial literacy. Additionally, it is essential to making informed investment choices. Hallam also offers his advice on index funds, avoiding scams and financial advisement. Millionaire Teacher is a great investment for beginning investors.
Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits
Philip A. Fisher
Philip Fisher has long been considered one of the fathers of modern investing philosophy. Though this book was originally published in 1958, its teachings have been valued by successful investors ever since. The updated edition offers new insights from Fisher’s son, Ken Fisher, in an expanded introduction. Fisher’s ideas have influenced businesspeople such as Warren Buffett and, like many of the other books on this list, Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits is a must-read for investors of any level.
The Interpretation of Financial Statements
In addition to Graham’s other book, The Intelligent Investor, The Interpretation of Financial Statements is a must-read. This book makes our list because it offers incredible insight on how to make smart and successful investments. Graham’s philosophy on understanding a company’s present financial status explains how to better predict that company’s future financial status. Readers will understand financial statements and learn to analyze for relevant investing information. Another crowning jewel in Graham’s trifecta of investing books, The Interpretation of Financial Statements is an essential read.
One Up on Wall Street: How to Use What You Already Know to Make Money in the Market
Peter Lynch serves as vice chairman of Fidelity Management and Research Company, and Fidelity Management Fund saw its best performing years under his guidance as portfolio manager from the years of 1977 - 1990. He’s one of the best money managers in the world and his book offers the secrets to Wall Street’s success. The latest edition offers a new foreword and Lynch takes on the topics of internet stocks. The assets of Lynch’s expertise and knowledge come in the form of understanding investing in everyday companies. Additionally, he offers a wealth of information on investing in different types of companies. Again, this is the perfect book for new investors looking to get their feet in the door.
The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World
A current fellow and previous history professor at Harvard University, Niall Ferguson is an expert on business history. The Ascent of Money is an intriguing adventure into how modern day money and business came to be, both of which are incredibly important to understanding today’s market. Equally important to know strategies, is knowing one’s history. In addition to the exciting detail and there is a great discussion of systematic rise and fall of economics. Therefore, this book is a great educational tool for the intellectual investor.
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy
Thomas J. Stanley & William D. Danko
This is another of the atypical approaches to investing advice. Filled to the brim with interviews from America’s wealthy, Stanley and Danko isolate the top seven traits attributed to people with lots and lots of money. The Millionaire Next Door advises readers through the experience of its interviewees. They suggest ways to adapt lifestyles that will help businesspeople live to become the next millionaires next door.
Buffettology: The Previously Unexplained Techniques That Have Made Warren Buffett The World’s Most Famous Investor
Mary Buffett & David Clark
There’s a reason that Warren Buffett’s name has been seen with consistency throughout this list, and it’s that he’s one of the most successful investors in the modern day investment world. This fact makes his advice and strategies like a sort of gospel to aspiring investors. Furthermore, Buffettology provides an inside look into how those strategies can be adopted and implemented. This book is a study in how Buffett became one of the world’s most wealthiest people.
Investing and finance can be complicated and, not to mention, dizzying. Therefore, proper knowledge of the modern marketplace is essential to success. Additionally, they discuss the philosophies modern businesspeople abide by. With this list of the top investing books for 2017, you can take your investment fate into your own hands. So, before you put your money where your mouth is, stick your nose into one of these books and get to reading.