The wise sage Groucho Marx once said, “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” Canine considerations aside, it goes without saying that books on money matters can be an investor’s particularly good pal.
I’m an avid reader, and I often find myself asked for book recommendations. If you search for “finance books” on Amazon.com, you’ll get more than 500,000 results. With a new volume on investing coming out seemingly every hour, where in the world do you begin?
That’s why I compiled this list of the best books for investors, entrepreneurs, budding economists… everyone! I consider these books the cream of the crop. Read all of them and you’ll have a good primer in personal finance, economics, investing and owning a business.
This list is updated whenever I find a new book I feel is a must-read, so come back in the future and see what’s been added.
And if you can’t get enough of the written word, we’ve also compiled a list of our favorite financial magazines, as well.
Jump down to the topic you want to read about.
- Asset Allocation
- Asset Protection
Asset allocation is a crucial strategy for investing. A good asset allocation strategy balances your risk versus your rewards by adjusting the percentage of each asset in your portfolio according to specific criteria: time frame, risk tolerance and investment goals.
However, it’s definitely not a “one size fits all” strategy, and it can be complicated to figure out on your own. These books can help.
The Four Pillars of Investing
The subtitle for this classic guide is “Lessons for Building a Winning Portfolio,” and it certainly delivers. The Four Pillars of Investing by William Bernstein was first published in 2002, and its wisdom still applies. It’s considered a staple by many investors. In fact, if you were to read only one book on this list, I’d say that you should choose this one.
Bernstein is a firm believer in Modern Portfolio Theory, which holds that asset classes as a rule are not necessarily correlated to each other. While one asset goes down in value, another can go up. This encourages diversity in your portfolio. (It’s also the principle on which most robo advisors are founded.
A Random Walk Down Wall Street
This is a book that’s made a number of “Best Of” lists over the years. Author Burton Malkiel believes that by buying and holding a low-cost, internationally diversified index of securities (aka “index funds”) over time, an investor can exceed even portfolios picked by professionals with complicated analytics. He wrote this book to share his strategy, as well as providing an introduction to investing.
For the newest edition of A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Malkiel has added additional material about exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and emerging markets. He’s also written a brand-new chapter detailing the pros and cons of the hot investing trend known as “smart beta.”
This book is suitable for investors of all experience levels and takes you step by step through Malkiel’s “time-tested strategy.”
The Intelligent Asset Allocator
This was actually William Bernstein’s debut book, but I recommend that you read The Four Pillars of Investing first. Although it is written in the same no-nonsense, down-to-Earth style, The Intelligent Asset Allocator dives much deeper into the investing strategy that Bernstein presents in the book at the top of our list.
This book contains more of the nitty-gritty:
- The risk/reward characteristics of various investments
- How to apply Modern Portfolio Theory to your investing for a better risk/reward ratio
- How to take control of your investing
If you want to understand the technical details of creating a proper asset allocation, I recommend that you pick up this book.
There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of books written about investing over the years. Some are great, while others are… well… not so great, to put it kindly.
We’ve decided to highlight books that not only provide the foundations for a solid investment strategy, but also give actionable ideas that you can put into use in your own portfolio.
The Intelligent Investor
This book is easily considered the bible for value investing. In fact, author Benjamin Graham was the granddaddy of this philosophy, which involves buying investments when you believe they’re underpriced.
The Intelligent Investor was first published in 1949, and in the nearly 70 years since it first came out, Graham’s theories have proven true time and again. It definitely deserves a place on the bookshelf of any investor. After all, Warren Buffett, the famous “Oracle of Omaha,” called it “the best book on investing ever written.”
This updated edition includes contributions from Jason Zweig, a journalist with The Wall Street Journal (review here). Zweig gives the readers a good understanding of how to apply Graham’s principles to today’s markets (and it seems that some things really do never change).
Note: We’ve also published a more comprehensive review of this investing classic.
Warren Buffett is the world’s most famous investor, and his name is synonymous with financial success. A value investor, he has amassed his huge wealth from scratch by carefully picking and choosing smart investments in industries and companies that he believes will grow.
As Warren Buffett’s former daughter-in-law, Mary Buffett knows a thing or two about how the legendary investor thinks. And David Clark is considered the world’s authority on the Oracle of Omaha’s investing methods. This book explores Warren Buffett’s strategies for becoming one of the world’s richest men.
Along with explanations of Buffett’s proven methods, Buffettology includes a detailed list of the 54 stocks in Buffett’s portfolio that the authors believe Buffett intends to continue holding, giving you the opportunity to invest alongside the master.
The New Buffettology
Warren Buffett is famous for investing when stocks are at the low point and selling when their values are high. But what happens when the markets take a turn for the worst?
In the follow-up to their best-selling Buffettology, Mary Buffett and David Clark continue to explore the secrets of the Oracle of Omaha’s investment strategies. But this time, they examine what happens when the markets turn volatile.
The New Buffettology explores Buffett’s contrarian methods for exploiting stocks that are headed downward and takes readers step-by-step through the rich opportunities of bear markets. It looks at what to buy, what to sell… and when.
The Dao of Capital
Daoism (also known as “Taosim”) is a Chinese philosophical tradition that emphasizes living in harmony with the universe and both the light and dark sides to everything.
It may seem like kind of a stretch, but hedge fund manager Mark Spitznagel applies his own form of Daoism to investing. His motto is “One gains by losing and loses by gaining,” and it fits harmoniously within the Austrian School of economics.
In The Dao of Capital, Spitznagel presents the grand panoply of the history of investing, from dynastic China to late 19th-century Europe. He shows readers how to apply the theories of the Austrian School, and of Ludwig von Mises in particular, to their own investing portfolios.
Although Spitznagel takes a roundabout approach to explaining his main idea, this book is still definitely worth the read.
Okay, so once you have started to build your wealth, how do you protect it? There are a number of forces that can take away your money if you let them – not the least of which is taxes.
Asset protection should play a role in your own portfolio. Luckily, there are books to help guide you along.
Wealth Secrets of the Affluent
Do you ever wish you had been born into one of the world’s uber-wealthy families? Well, they didn’t get that money by doing nothing!
Wealth Secrets of the Affluent reveals 10 “keys” to financial success that these affluent dynasties have used over the decades to attain and maintain unparalleled wealth. There’s enough wisdom in here for anyone interested in growing their fortune, regardless of how much they currently earn. David Mandell (who co-authored this book with Christopher Jarvis) is an attorney specializing in asset protection, so a big emphasis is placed on how to protect your wealth in the unfortunate case of legal troubles.
One of Investor Junkie’s favorite ways for growing your wealth is through entrepreneurship. Whether it’s a part-time side hustle or your main income source, owning your own business can be one of the best investments you make.
However, it’s not without its trials. Here are some of my favorite books to help guide you through or just get you motivated.
The E-Myth Revisited
There are plenty of myths about starting your own business. These misconceptions can get in the way of your success as an entrepreneur.
Author Michael Gerber is a guru for the self-employed. He’s dedicated his career to helping entrepreneurs and startups find their footing and succeed. With more than 150,000 copies of The E-Myth Revisited sold, he brings his expertise to your bookshelf.
Gerber takes you every step of the way, from the germination of the seed of your business idea through the rocky “adolescent growing pains,” to the maturity of your company. Special attention is also given to franchising. And he shares the difference between working “on your business” and “in your business.”
I consider this book a must-read for any entrepreneur.
Rich Dad, Poor Dad
According to Robert Kiyosaki, mindset is key to the difference between the financial winners and losers. Kiyosaki learned this firsthand by observing the differences between his two fathers.
This book has become beloved by millions, largely thanks to its out-of-the-box ideas about what it takes to be successful. And it explores the lessons that the rich teach their children that the middle class misses out on.
I first read Rich Dad, Poor Dad back in 2000, when it came out and I was still somewhat of a budding entrepreneur. And there’s plenty in here for anyone just starting out with their own business. And since then, I’ve revisited the book. Although I think there’s a lot of “fluff” in it, I think many of the lessons still hold for beginning entrepreneurs.
You can read my in-depth review here.
The Millionaire Fastlane
Once Rich Dad, Poor Dad has you in the right mindset, it’s time for practical and actionable advice from MJ DeMarco. The Millionaire Fastlane is a great book for both budding entrepreneurs and business veterans.
Throughout the book, DeMarco uses the allegory of cars — especially his own Lamborghini – as he aims to get you out of a “Hyundai lifestyle.”
If you think you’re stuck in the “slow lane” of going to school, getting a job, buying a used car, penny-pinching, etc., it’s time to move over and accelerate. This book will show you how to accelerate your success by both building a business and making smart investments for the long term.
The follow-up to the best-selling Millionaire Fastlane, Unscripted offers a blueprint for escaping “cultural conditioning” and forging your own life through entrepreneurship.
In this book, DeMarco examines how to break free of the Monday-to-Friday “slave cycle,” how to create a radical but successful business framework and how to really get motivated. Become your own boss, own your home with no mortgage, and turn off your alarm clock. It’s time to break free of the rat race with DeMarco’s book.
There are many different ways to define “economics,” but we’ll go with the classic dictionary definition: “the branch of knowledge concerned with the production, consumption and transfer of wealth.”
There are many economic philosophies you can subscribe to, but being dedicated to helping you build and preserve your wealth, I can safely say I’m a capitalist. Of course, there’s a good bit of stigma that’s been attached to that term. These books help explain why being a capitalist isn’t a bad thing at all – actually, it’s the most rational economic philosophy out there.
Free to Choose
First published in 1980 and accompanied by a 10-part PBS series, Free to Choose is the classic economics book that advocated free market principles. The book and its authors, Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman and his wife, Rose, maintain that the free market is best for all members of society and can solve problems where other philosophies have failed. This is also known as laissez-faire economics.
In short, the book teaches that the capitalist model can expand personal freedom and prosperity, while undue government regulation – even with the best of intentions – hampers growth.
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal
If you’ve read Atlas Shrugged or at least sat through the movies, it’s time to learn the philosophies of Ayn Rand in her own words. This book contains essays written by the controversial philosopher, as well as those by Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan and Robert Hessen.
More than just the economic aspects, the essays in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, first published in 1966, explore the moral nature of capitalism. It defines pure capitalism as a system that grows among a group of completely free individuals and discusses why it is the only logical system upon which to structure a society.
Money Mischief: Episodes in Monetary History
Think you’re immune to the inner workings of economics? Think again. Looking at everything from global markets to your Friday paycheck, Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman explains how value is created and how it affects everything.
Using historical examples from the dawn of civilization, Money Mischief: Episodes in Monetary History, first published in 1992, demonstrates how a misinterpretation of the monetary system – especially by government – can lead to mischief. It’s an entertaining read.
The Millionaire Next Door
How do millionaires act? Maybe not quite as you’d expect.
Where do they live? Maybe not quite where you’d think.
Thomas Stanley and William Danko’s bestseller, The Millionaire Next Door looks at the habits of America’s wealthy. We’re not talking the folks living in their Beverly Hills mansions, but the millionaires who live among us – next door even.
Stanley and Danko identified seven common traits among the truly wealthy. Here’s how you can apply them to your own life and career.
You can also read a more in-depth review of this book here.
The Creature From Jekyll Island
Written a bit like a hard-boiled detective story, G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature From Jekyll Island looks at the story behind what he calls the “most blatant scam in all of history”: the Federal Reserve System.
Formed on Jekyll Island off the shore of Georgia in 1910, the Fed is responsible for implementing the United States’ policy of fiat money. And this book, first published in 1994, is one of the most popular volumes among libertarians and everyone else who would like to see the Federal Reserve dismantled.
Although this book is somewhat long and long-winded, it’s still an eye-opening read.
Paul Zane Pilzer was the co-author of the popular book Other People’s Money, which gave a thorough look at the savings and loan industry. However, Unlimited Wealth tackles more general economic questions.
The alchemists of old attempted to transform or transmute certain objects into other objects (most famously, base metals into gold). But Pilzer applies this concept to our own economic reality.
His “theory of alchemy” maintains that we are in a world of unlimited economic resources and are limited only by technology. New financial alchemists must exploit technological gaps to devise new goods and services. It’s a great discussion on world economies and their future, as well as how wealth is created.