Best books for investors

A couple of years ago the great investment writer, Jason Zweig, wrote an article listing his best books for investors. Zweig recommended 15 books (which can be seen in the original article). The 15 books are listed in the following table (ordered by the year of first publication).

Author Title Year
Bertrand Russell Sceptical Essays or The Scientific Outlook 1928
Fred Schwed Where Are the Customers’ Yachts? 1940
Benjamin Graham The Intelligent Investor 1949
Darrell Huff How to Lie with Statistics 1954
Adam Smith The Money Game 1968
Burton G. Malkiel A Random Walk Down Wall Street 1973
Charles P. Kindleberger Manias, Panics, and Crashes 1978
Roger Lowenstein Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist 1995
Richard Feynman Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! 1997
Peter L. Bernstein Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk 1998
John C. Bogle Common Sense on Mutual Funds 1999
Gary Belsky and Thomas Gilovich Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes and How to Correct Them 1999
E. Dimson, P. Marsh, M. Staunton Triumph of the Optimists 2002
Alice Schroeder The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life 2009
Daniel Kahneman Thinking, Fast and Slow 2013

One might quibble over the inclusion of one or two books here (that is the joy, and purpose, of lists), and it is important to remember that this is a list for investors (a list for traders would inevitably look rather different), but overall most would probably agree that this is a fine list.

It is interesting to see the distribution of publication dates of the recommended books.  Only three were first published in this century. And, of those, the most recently published book is not focused on investing, while the one before that is about a chap who started investing in the 1940s.

The median year for the 15 books is 1995, but the mean year of publication (OK, a rather silly calculation in this context but why not?) is 1980.

The following chart shows the year of first publication of the 15 books mapped onto the Dow Jones Industrial Average (log scale).

Recommended books for investors

On this chart it can be seen that the publication dates of six of the books are clustered around the end of the twenty-year bull market that started in 1980. Perhaps bull markets give authors the confidence to write books, or investors the appetite to read them. Certainly few classic books would appear to have been written in recent years.

But also, as it is often said, the essential lessons of investing change little over time.

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