This is a list of books that I personally have read and have had a high level of influence on my way of thinking, either as far as how I think about markets or how I think about the world in general. While there are plenty of other good books out there, this was meant to be a list of the ones that had the highest degree of impact on me.
Business and finance
This book was recommended to me by one of my mentors early in my career. It’s a quick read, but not watered down, and a good introduction to value investing.
- Margin of Safety, by Seth Klarman
This is a more advanced overview of value investing and the best that I have personally read. This book and the Nassim Nicholas Taleb books have had the most influence on my personal understanding of markets. The book is out of print and goes for +$1000 on Ebay, but if you can get hold of a copy, maybe through a library or elsewhere, it’s worth it.
- Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- Antifragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Fooled by Randomness had a huge influence on me, and I have read the rest of Taleb’s books since then. His writing style can be very pretentious at times, but he knows what he’s talking about. I actually don’t necessarily agree with everything that he writes about, but the value of his books is that he forces you to think and critically examine your own views. I would go as far to say that I might not hire someone if they haven’t read at least one of his books, because that would tell me that they aren’t serious about expanding their understanding of how markets actually work, not just how a textbook on modern portfolio theory says they should work. I debated if I should put these books in the finance section or the philosophy section, since they could fit really in either one.
This is more of a narrative story than a how-to book. It’s very informative on David Einhorn and Greenlight Capital’s rise to prominence in the hedge fund space and the nonsense and sheer idiocy from financial journalists and incompetent analysts that he had to deal with along the way.
This is a great study of companies that went from being run of the mill to being top tier. People who have worked at companies who have made…questionable management decisions may also enjoy and relate to it as well, as the book is almost a case study of these decisions, only in reverse.
This is practically must-read for anyone studying business or economics. It’s an article, not a book, but absolutely essential reading.
Good book on leadership by one of the most successful college basketball coaches of all time and very applicable to fields outside of sports. Some of the players that Dean Smith coached included Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, and of course, Michael Jordan. His assistants, including Roy Williams, have often gone on to become successful head coaches in their own right.
Philosophy and strategy
Classic text from the ancient Chinese philosopher. This falls into the category of books that I might not hire someone if they haven’t read it. Be sure to get a copy with a good translation and preferably not much editorial fluff.
This is an amazing compilation from the best political and military philosophers throughout history, including Niccolo Machiavelli, Lao Tse, and others. Robert Greene did a great job of packing all of this knowledge into one volume.
- The Federalist Papers
- Invisible Armies, Max Boot
- Corporate Warriors, PW Singer
- Killing Pablo, Mark Bowden
While the drug violence that plagued Colombia in the 1980s, 1990s, and still persisting to a degree today is common knowledge, less common is the US military and intelligence assistance given to the Colombian government to track down and kill drug lord Pablo Escobar. This is an extremely gritty, extremely rough, but very interesting history of this by the same author of Black Hawk Down.
This is the kind of book that is stranger than fiction. Marc Rich made money by selling post-revolution Iranian oil to Israel (not a typo), was prosecuted for tax evasion and doing business with a hostile country by Rudy Giuliani, and then pardoned by Bill Clinton. You can’t make this stuff up if you tried, and it’s a very interesting biography and also history to the commodity market.
I actually decided to put this under history instead of business and finance. While Benjamin Graham is the OG of value investing and was the mentor to Warren Buffett, I found the book a bit dated to a degree since it was written in a different era, and I personally got more value from reading the books by Peter Lynch and Seth Klarman listed above. That being said, it’s worth reading if for no other reason than usually anyone in finance will come across it at some point, and it’s also interesting to see the concepts of value investing from their original source and in the context of its original era. Read it more for the general ideas than the specific techniques.
- Awaken the Giant Within, Tony Robbins
- Meditations on Violence, Rory Miller
- Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl
- The Big Leap, Gay Hendricks
- The Winner Effect, Ian H. Robertson