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Put These Investing Classics on Your Vacation Reading Short List

As we move into late July – and find that August is right in our windshield – we're also hitting prime vacation season.

And if you're like me, you want to use that time to catch up on your reading.

Consider including a business book or two on that list. The time invested will have a long-term payoff.

Figuring you might be interested in some suggestions – at least as far as business and finance books go – I put together a list that includes some of my favorite investment books.

I'm a voracious reader myself (although my long commutes and becoming a dad for the first time a few years back has shifted my "reading" a bit toward audiobooks). I've stayed mostly with what I view as "classics" – books with staying power.


Bill's Top Twelve Investing Classics

No. 1
Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage of Wall Street, by Michael Lewis
With its focus on the junk-bond pollution of the 1980s, this book is about an earlier era, to be sure. But substitute in "Goldman Sachs" for "Salomon Bros.," and "credit-default swaps" in for "junk bonds," and "housing bubble" for "leveraged buyouts" – and you'll see that nothing ever changes on Wall Street. And the book is flat-out hilarious.

No. 2
Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco, by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
As detailed a look at the inside of a buyout deal as you'll ever see. (And it later became a very good made-for-TV flick, starring the late James Garner.)

No. 3
Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, by Roger Lowenstein
This deep and thorough look at the "Oracle of Omaha" is still my favorite Warren Buffett biography. It's not only a great investment book. It also gives you a look at the private Buffett that none of us ever gets to see.

No. 4
Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, by Edwin Lefèvre

A barely fictionalized account of the life of Jesse Livermore, a legendary speculator of the early 1900s. If you're going to trade stocks, you have to read this book.

No. 5
Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, by Charles Kindleberger

The title explains its focus. The execution is perfect.

No. 6
The Great Crash, 1929, by John Kenneth Galbraith

The lessons are profound and worth learning… because it can happen again.

No. 7
The Vandals' Crown: How Rebel Currency Traders Overthrew the World's Central Banks, by Gregory J. Millman

An accessible and entertaining introduction to currency trading, a part of the market that retail investors too often know little about. This one is engrossing, complete with terrific anecdotes that illustrate the power currency traders really have. (This one is great in its audio version.)

No. 8
Crashes: Why They Happen – What to Do, by Robert Beckman

I ran across this breezy little gem while researching my own book, Contrarian Investing. A fast, entertaining, and instructive read that's perfect for poolside perusing.

No. 9
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis

Another great piece of work by the author of Liar's Poker, this book gives us a disturbing-but-informative view of the financial crisis that showed us how Wall Street transformed the American Dream of home ownership into a full-blown nightmare.

No. 10
The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron, by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind

As the title says, this is a postmortem on the Enron Corp. debacle. And it will leave you shaking your head over the corporate hubris and regulatory incompetence that allowed this to happen.

No. 11
Street Smarts: Adventures on the Road and in the Markets, by Jim Rogers

Anything by Jim is worth reading. His first book, Investment Biker, is a classic.

No. 12
Too Big to Fail

OK, so this isn't a book. This superbly executed HBO docudrama was based on the best seller of the same title penned by Andrew Ross Sorkin. It'll serve as a nice break from all this reading. And the DVD will be easy to pack in your suitcase as you leave for vacation.

Honorable Mention

Of course, I'd be remiss not to mention the books that our experts have written…

Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald wrote Fiscal Hangover, an excellent prediction of the global financial crisis.

Former colleague Martin Hutchinson co-authored Alchemists of Loss: How Modern Finance and Government Intervention Crashed the Financial System.

Dr. Kent Moors wrote The Vega Factor: Oil Volatility and the Next Global Crisis.

And I co-authored Contrarian Investing: How to Buy and Sell When Others Won't and Make Money Doing It.

There you have it. Sharpen your pencil and figure out which of these will make your short list.

Join the conversation. Click here to jump to comments…

About the Author

Before he moved into the investment-research business in 2005, William (Bill) Patalon III spent 22 years as an award-winning financial reporter, columnist, and editor. Today he is the Executive Editor and Senior Research Analyst for Money Morning. With his latest project, Private Briefing, Bill takes you "behind the scenes" of his established investment news website for a closer look at the action. Members get all the expert analysis and exclusive scoops he can't publish... and some of the most valuable picks that turn up in Bill's closed-door sessions with editors and experts.

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  1. Curtis Edmark | July 29, 2014

    It's hard to determine where to begin.

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