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).
|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).
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.