Books I’ve liked: Personal finance, investing & entrepreneurship

Every now and then, a friend asks me for a book recommendation, especially on personal finance, entrepreneurship and investing. Not because am an investing guru (which I am not), but because I read a ton of them!

I thought I will note it down here as well.

All these are books that I have read and liked a lot.

Few like One up on Wall street gave me the confidence that I too can be an investor in the stock market, which until then was crocodile infested space to me. Few like Intelligent Investor have been a huge huge help on almost everything finance. Few like Where are the customers yachts? changed my opinion on the stock market quite abruptly and changed my style of investing drastically.

And yet, few like Richest man in Babylon made me realize that simplicity and a principled method matters. A few like Extraordinary popular delusions helped me stay away from making costly mistakes.

Perhaps, there have been a few that have led me astray as well. Rich dad poor dad? Could be!

Few of them, including Intelligent Investor are not easy to read (esp for guys without a finance background) and in the initial days, you may need to go back and re-read them a few times over to understand at least a part of it. I took 4-5 months to read the book. I think I read each chapter at least twice, took notes and re-read a few chapters every year.  In the initial days, it was a struggle to understand things in it and had to look up a lot of terms in the dictionary. But it was worth it and more! Totally!

A word of caution though.

A friend of mine spends all his free time on video games and watching movies. He says reading books is a horrible way to spend your time. And he does make more money than I do. No personal finance, investing or entrepreneurship books in his shelf. And he has done rather well for himself. A few guys are wired that way naturally.

However, without such natural ability, I have had to spend time learning, figuring out, making and correcting mistakes. And books have played a huge role in helping me. It’s a personal choice as to how much importance you should attribute to books.

Finally, books don’t solve problems or make you rich or whatever. At best, they guide you. They teach you things. It is upto you to learn them and apply them. I am myself guilty of looking for magic wand methods in books. I have been disappointed. There ain’t no magic wand.

However, books make a wonderful friend. A good teacher (if you picked the right book). A good advisor (again if you picked the right one).

Here goes.

Personal finance & investing

  1. Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
    The Bible of Investing!
  2. One up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch
    The one book that gives you the confidence to invest in stocks and tells there’s no rocket science in it, but plenty of common sense!
  3. Common stocks and uncommon profits by Philip Fisher
    If Intelligent Investor tells you to looks for value, this one tells you to look for growth. One of the best books on growth investing.
  4. Richest man in Babylon by George S Clason (Caution: There’s a crappy book by Karen McCreadie based on this book, but having the same name. Avoid it.)
    An amazing pocket book based on centuries of money-making wisdom in the clay tablets of Babylon. Quick to read.
  5. Why smart people make big money mistakes by Thomas Gilovich
    A hugely entertaining read on the subject of behaviour psychology in investing.
  6. The letters of Warren Buffett (its not a book, but the annual reports of Berkshire Hathway)
    Masterly crafted annual letters with the wit and wisdom of Warren Buffett (and perhaps Charlie Munger). Not to forget the great sense of humour too.
  7. Analysis for financial management by Robert C Higgins
    A great book to understand balance sheets.
  8. Where are the customers yachts? by Fred Schwed (Again, confusing new version by a different author. Avoid that one.)
    Does anyone make money in stocks? Except the brokerages that make a killing out of the commissions! Funny and thought provoking!
  9. Extraordinary popular delusions and madness of crowds by Charles McKay (I think the new version has only 3 chapters of the original. Do check. Also, I think the original version is available as a free download.)
    A must read. Has hugely helped me avoid those scamster companies and schemes.
  10. Value investing by Bruce C. N. Greenwald
    A fantastic book on value investing.  But, read Intelligent Investor first.
  11. Interpreting financial statements by Benjamin Graham
    If Robert C Higgins’ book is not available, read a simplified version on same topic.
  12. Liar’s poker
    A funny look at Wall Street. At assholes, bonuses, competition, insane risk-taking and more. And I repeat, its very funny!
  13. Reminiscences of  a stock operator by Edwin Lefevre
    Go long or go short, but be correct. Figure out the path of least resistance and go with the flow. A speculator’s life and lessons told in a gripping manner.
  14.  Financial Statements: A Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Creating Financial Reports by Thomas R. Ittelson
    Another alternate to book #7
  15. The Warren Buffett Way, Second Edition by Robert G. Hagstrom
    Buffett explained. Well, its good to read and to know more about Buffett. But I would first read Buffett’s letters in #6.
  16. Think and grow rich by Napoleon Hill
    A classic. Napoleon’s take on what it takes to get real rich after years of study and interviewing ultra-rich people of his days.
  17. Cashflow quadrant by ‘Robber’ Kiyosaki (LOL, I hate the fellow, but its a good book).
    I hate to admit. It’s a good book by a rogue author. I liked the idea of balance sheet styled explanations and the quadrant mechanism that tells you which quadrant you need to be in to make real money.

Entrepreneurship

  1. Knack by Norm Brodsky
    Fantastic advice for a small business. By someone who has done it himself. 6 times!
  2. Growing a business by Paul Hawken
    Again, fantastic advice for a small business.
  3. Founders at work by Jessica Livingston
    A collection of interviews of many successful 90’s and 2000’s internet companies.
  4. Rework by Jason Fried
    Unconventional. Small is more, less is good styled business book. Very good.
  5. How to get rich by Dennis Felix
    Misleading title. Sage advice about running a company, making money, etc by a guy who did it successfully and became filthy rich. And is embarrassingly honest too!
  6. Getting real by Jason Fried
    Read this if you don’t get #4. Same author, almost similar content. Its free!
  7. Good to great by Jim Collins
    Another extremely popular book. A few ideas like the Hedgehog concept are very useful while running your own business.
  8. Screw it, lets do it by Richard Branson
    Typical Branson! Brash, confident, flashy and more!
  9. Losing my virginity by Richard Branson
    Typical Branson! Brash, confident, flashy and more!
  10. How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie
    Haven’t read this? Shame on you!
  11. Influence: Psychology of persuasion by Robert C Cialdini
    A great book on how you could influence people by following surprisingly simple things.
  12. The art of the start by Guy Kawasaki
    A good resource if you are just starting out and bootstrapping.
  13. The greatest salesman in the world by Og Mandino
    Another classic like the Richest Man in Babylon. Sales  is one skill that every entrepreneur should have! This book has very simple but power advice.

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