I try to read a decent number of books each year, slightly more than average. According to a Pew Research study from 2016, the average number of books read by Americans is 12 (the median number is 4). For men, the average is only 9.
So my “slightly more than average” isn’t saying much. I wanted to step it up this year and read more books. The hard part is figuring out what to read.
I save reading lists whenever I come across a decent one. Well, I found one this week, tweeted by Phil Ordway (credit where it’s due).
If you’re looking for good suggestions outside of investing, this list is from an interesting source — the Defense Intelligence Agency. Here’s what the DIA Director has to say about reading:
As intelligence officers, our most critical asset is our mind. Self-study increases our speed, creativity, and confidence.
Without self-study, our expertise is limited to our direct experiences. Reading vastly multiplies our experiences in life — as parents, as friends, as spouses, and as leaders.
By reading, we can learn from the experiences of an immeasurable number of people. And, hopefully, our reading allows us to learn from the mistakes of others, before we make those mistakes ourselves. Old ideas give us new ideas. History really does teach us something. It inspires, motivates, and elevates us.
Here are the important links: DIA Director’s 2018 Professional Reading List (PDF version).
If that’s not enough, here’s couple more lists I found earlier this year:
Not to be outdone, here’s what I read over the first quarter of 2018.
- The Lessons of History – A little book filled with great history lessons. My one of many takeaways: civilization is locked in a cycle of destruction and progress of beliefs, ideas, technology, governments, businesses, markets…
- Why Don’t We Learn From History? – Another great little book. The author answers the question in the title. History shows a long history of not learning from other’s mistakes.
- The Most Important Thing Illuminated: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor – I read the first edition not long after it came out and wanted to read it again, so I grabbed the Illuminated edition for the added commentary. Well worth it.
I could easily read each of these books two or three more times and walk away with something new. Each one is well written and full of wisdom.
- Margin of Safety: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor – Seth Klarman’s classic is a collector’s item for diehard value investors (I didn’t buy it). It’s filled with a lot of good stuff but if you’re not into value, you can skip it.
- Oh Yeah? – Howard Marks mentioned this book in The Important Thing. It’s a short compilation of quotes/predictions from the leaders in Wall Street and the U.S. Government before the ’29 Crash and during the Great Depression. Let’s just say, their predictions on both accounts were way off.
- A Short History of Financial Euphoria – A fun read by Galbraith on the masses ability to get overly excited during different market episodes of the past.
- Deep Value: Why Activist Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations – This one took a while. It’s a dense, thorough explanation of why deep value strategies work. If that sounds interesting but intimidating, I’d recommend you read the next book instead.
- The Acquirer’s Multiple: How the Billionaire Contrarians of Deep Value Beat the Market – a little book with a mix of old and new. Carlisle summarizes the work in some of his previous books like Deep Value but also introduces some interesting new material as well.
- Dune Book Series by Frank Herbert – I wanted to read these for a while now. So far this year, I’ve finished the first four books: Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune, and God Emperor of Dune. The first three were good. The fourth was just okay.
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – it’s on every recommended reading list I’ve come across. Guess you can say, I was finally persuaded. So far so good.
- Heretics of Dune – the fifth book in the Dune series.
- An Art Leveraging A Science – M. Housel
- First Principles: The Building Blocks of True Knowledge – Farnam Street
- Understanding the Odds Lets You Play With Them – Nautilus
- Why Even Bother to Think About Strategy? – S. Godin
- The Narrative Giveth and The Narrative Taketh Away – Epsilon Theory
- Come Easy, Go Easy: The Tech Takedown! – Musings on Markets
- Failing Slow, Failing Fast, and Failing Very Fast – Newfound Research
- Value Down But Not Out – L. Swedroe
- Extra: Ray Dalio Full Interview & Transcript (podcast) – Freakonomics
- Roger McNamee, Early Facebook Investor Interview – NY Mag
- People Who Have “Too Many Interests” Are More Likely To Be Successful – Medium
- Inside the Worst U.S. Maritime Disaster in Decades – Vanity Fair