Dear Chairman: Boardroom Battles and the Rise of Shareholder Activism by Jeff Gramm: Published in 2016, this engaging text recounts several of the more colorful shareholder efforts to change bad management practices. Each chapter is based on an actual letter written by an activist investor, starting with Benjamin Graham’s comparatively genteel pressure on Northern Pipeline to the highly entertaining letter written by Daniel Loeb to Star Gas wondering whether the CEO’s 78-year-old mother belongs on the Board of Directors.
Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham and David Dodd: One of the most influential books on investing and originally published in 1934, it describes the timeless value investing concepts and methods of Benjamin Graham: the “father of value investing.” This read is considered the foundation for Warren Buffett’s success and recent editions include commentary by some of today’s most successful investors.
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham: The sub-title says it all: “the definitive book on value investing.” Graham’s classic best seller, this text describes the principles of value investing and applies them to selecting securities. It also discusses the concepts of thinking as an owner of a business and the “margin of safety.” This is considered by Warren Buffett to be one of the most important reads in all of investing.
Extraordinary Popular Delusions by Charles MacKay: This classic book on investing, market psychology and gullibility is just as relevant in today’s bitcoin world as it was in 1841 when it was first published. Scottish journalist Mackay tells the stories of many of history’s notable bubbles and investment frauds and illuminates how human nature and its inherent weaknesses never really change.
Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb: The author, once considered an investment heretic but now thought of as a genius and the essence of mainstream, uses stories and anecdotes to illustrate how the world is much more random than we believe. He describes how human nature leads us to over-estimate causality, which is often followed by our mistakes. This book opens the reader’s mind to a view of the world that is frequently hidden.
When Genius Failed by Roger Lowenstein: Entertaining and insightful reading on the perils of high finance. Among other things it shows that even Nobel prizewinners can fail at investing.
The Most Important Thing by Howard Marks: Warren Buffett’s quote on the title, “This is that rarity, a useful book” conveys the merits of this highly-readable and brief (180 pages) 2011 book on thoughtful investing. Marks discusses how to define, recognize and control risk, and comments on contrarianism, finding bargains and “knowing what you don’t know.” Marks co-founded and runs Oaktree Capital Management and is widely considered one of the today’s icons of value investing.
Against the Gods by Peter L. Bernstein: Peter Bernstein was one of the most insightful writers of our time. His book provides a comprehensive history of man’s efforts to understand risk and probability, beginning with early gamblers in ancient Greece, continuing through the 17th-century French mathematicians Pascal and Fermat and up to modern theory. Barron’s describes the book as “an extremely readable history of risk.…”
The Snowball: Warren Buffet and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder: A frank account of Buffett’s life; Alice Schroeder strips away the mystery that has long cloaked the word’s richest man to reveal a life and fortune erected around lucid and inspired business vision and unimaginable personal complexity.
Lords of Finance: The Bankers Who Broke the World by Liaquat Ahamed: This text tells the story of how four central bankers once dominated the world of finance in the early 1900’s. Not only does Ahamed provide fascinating insight into their personalities, he also illustrates how these men were all too human, using tools and methods they believed were effective, yet they were unable to prevent the financial crises that plausibly led to World War II. Highly readable, this book remains relevant in our own time as central bankers continue their experiments with global monetary policy.