If you were a serious baseball player, would you make it a point to read The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams (the last man to bat .400) and other books by history’s greatest hitters? Of course you would, in the hopes of maximizing your chances of repeating their successes — and avoiding their mistakes. For the same reason, I think all serious investors should read as much by and about the most successful investors of all time. My favorite books in this category are:
The Intelligent Investor, by Ben Graham. Graham was Warren Buffett’s teacher at Columbia Business School and lifetime mentor. I agree with Buffett that this is the best book ever on investing.
The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, by Lawrence Cunningham. This book organizes Buffett’s brilliant annual letters to shareholders by topic — a far more efficient (albeit slightly more expensive) way to read them (they’re available for free on Berkshire Hathaway’s website).
Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, by Philip Fisher. Fisher, regarded as one of the pioneers of modern investment theory, may be the most underrated investment thinker of all time. He focuses on identifying growth stocks that can be held for the long run.
The Money Masters, by John Train. Nine chapters — one each on nine of the world’s great investors (Buffett, Fisher, Graham, Templeton, Cabot, T. Rowe Price, Tisch, Kroll, and Wilson).
You Can Be a Stock Market Genius, by Joel Greenblatt. You’ve probably never heard of him or his book, but Greenblatt has compounded money at over 40% annually for the past 17 years, primarily by investing in special situations like spin-offs, restructurings, and rights offerings.
Additional favorites along these lines are: One Up on Wall Street and Beating the Street by Peter Lynch, John Neff on Investing by John Neff, Margin of Safety by Seth Klarman, and Value Investing by Marty Whitman.
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