What are the best investing books according to the world’s best investors?
To find out, I sought out the favorite books of investors such as Warren Buffett, Nassim Taleb, Seth Klarman, and Howard Marks.
I tracked down the reading lists from top finance programs such as Columbia, MIT, Florida, and New York University, and I found the recommended reading for new securities analysts at investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
All in all, I curated a total of 24 books lists, which produced a total of over 575 book recommendations.
I combined every single one of those recommendations into an Excel sheet. Then, I sorted them by count.
What I got was a list of the best investing books ranked by the number of recommendations received.
Here are the top 14 books on that list.
Best Investing Books of All Time
#1. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (13 out of 24)
Warren Buffett has called The Intelligent Investor, “by far the best book on investing ever written.”
He continues: “Chapters 8 and 20 have been the bedrock of my investing activities for more than 60 years. I suggest that all investors read those chapters and reread them every time the market has been especially strong or weak.”
First published in 1949, Benjamin Graham’s now-classic book has impacted generations of investors and is recommended by many of today’s top hedge fund managers, including Seth Klarman, Joel Greenblatt, and Bill Ackman.
Graham himself revised the book four times, with the last revision being published in 1971. In 2003, respected Wall Street Journal financial columnist Jason Zweig updated the book with his own commentary and footnotes.
Recommended on 13 out 24 reading lists, The Intelligent Investor comes in at #1 on the list of best investing books of all time.
#2. You Can Be A Stock Market Genius by Joel Greenblatt (10 out of 24)
While not a hidden gem, it’s fair to say that You Can Be A Stock Market Genius has gone under the radar, with a ranking of #79 in Amazon’s finance section. (Greenblatt’s second book, The Little Book That Beats The Market, is #23.)
You Can Be A Stock Market Genius details how individual investors can use special situation investing to beat the market.
This involves investing in:
- Merger Securities
- Rights Offerings
- Risk Arbitrage
Researching these opportunities does require work, which may be part of the reason why the book hasn’t caught on with mainstream individual investors. However, with 10 recommendations out of the 24 lists I reviewed, it’s fair to say that You Can Be A Stock Market Genius has greatly influenced many of the best investors of our generation.
#3. The Essays of Warren Buffett (9 out of 24)
Buffett has shared his wisdom and methods for over 30 years in his letters to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders.
There are two separate books that have curated the letters:
- The Essays of Warren Buffett, edited by Lawrence Cunningham: an edited version that groups similar topics from different years together.
- Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders, edited by Max Olson: a compilation of the unedited versions of Warren Buffett’s letters (only $2.99 on Kindle).
Buffett’s unedited letters are also available for free on Berkshire’s website.
#4. Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham (8 out of 24)
Benjamin Graham’s first book, Security Analysis, comes in at #4 on the list of best investing books of all time.
Warren Buffet, who also wrote the forward, is quoted on the back cover calling it, “a roadmap for investing that I have now been following for 57 years.”
The newest version, published in 2008, includes insight from some of today’s top investors, including Seth Klarman, Howard Marks, Bruce Berkowitz, Bruce Greenwald and others.
#5. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre (7 out of 24)
Written in 1923, Edwin Lefèvre’s classic Reminiscences of a Stock Operator comes in at #5.
The book is a fictionalized biography of one of the greatest investors of the time, Jesse Livermore.
Livermore made and lost millions multiple times throughout his career. His most famous move was shorting the market in 1929.
Livermore ended his own life in 1940, after losing most of what he made (reportedly over $100 million). The life story of Livermore remains relevant today for its views on investor psychology, speculating, and the nature of the market.
#6. The Money Masters by John Train (7 out of 24)
The classic The Money Masters by John Train actually tied for 5th as the most recommended book.
While popular among hedge fund managers, The Money Masters is ranked only #2,584 in Amazon’s finance section.
Originally published in 1980, it goes deep into the strategies of the most successful investors of the time, featuring in-depth profiles on the strategies used by Warren Buffett, Benjamin Graham, Phil Fisher and John Templeton.
Published in an era with no internet or 24-7 investment news, The Money Masters was one of the first books to uncover the range of strategies used by the top money managers of the day.
#7. The Warren Buffett Way by Robert Hagstrom (7 out of 24)
Having written decades of letters containing his wisdom — and never one to back away from an interview — Buffett’s been generous in sharing his investment philosophy over the years. So it’s no wonder why his footprints are all over this list of best investing books.
What’s unique about The Warren Buffett Way is that it dives deep into the actual strategies Warren Buffett has used to succeed. It’s the definitive book on his strategies from an outsider’s point of view.
Originally written in 1997, it was revised in 2013 to analyze Buffett’s latest investments.
#8. Market Wizards by Jack D. Schwager (6 out of 24)
According to Schwager, those skills include discipline, capital preservation, risk management, individual responsibility, flexibility, consistency and intellectual honesty.
In Market Wizards, Jack D. Schwager interviews 16 “wizards” of the day to distill the traits that make them successful.
The format of introduction to the interviewee, the edited transcript of the interview, followed by a brief summary, makes Market Wizards a must on the reading lists of Goldman Sachs, Wharton, and The University of Florida.
Originally written in 1989, the book was updated in 2012, with interviews from this generation’s top traders.
#9. Margin of Safety by Seth Klarman (6 out of 24)
The “margin of safety” is the difference between the intrinsic value of a stock and its market price. Seth Klarman has used the concept to become one of the most successful hedge fund managers of the day at The Baupost Group.
Often called “the next Warren Buffett” by the media, Klarman is a classic value investor.
In his book, Klarman dives deep into the Margin of Safety philosophy, arguing that it’s the most important concept for investors to understand.
As the book is out of print, used copies often go for over $1,000. The lowest price on Amazon for a used copy is $899.
#10. Extraordinary Popular Delusions by Charles Mackay (5 out of 24)
Originally published in 1841 — to help put that in perspective, that’s 19 years before the American Civil War — Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds shows that economic bubbles existed long before the stock market.
With stories from the famous bubbles such as The Mississippi Company, South Sea Company, and Tulip Mania, Mackay provides plenty of insight into how humans have committed financial folly over time.
What makes this book so popular today is that history has shown to repeat itself. Whether the internet bubble of the late ’90s or the housing crash in 2008, the same principles of human behavior are around today. So, it should come as no surprise that this book is on the reading lists of Goldman Sachs and universities like Florida and NYU.
#11. Capital Ideas: The Improbable Origins of Modern Wall Street by Peter Bernstein (4 out of 24)
Where did the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM), The Efficient Market Hypothesis, The Black Scholes Options Model and other theories that shape our markets come from?
In Peter Bernstein’s Capital Ideas: The Improbable Origins of Modern Wall Street, you’ll learn the why and how behind the emergence and adoption of these big ideas.
With its richness in financial history, the book is very popular among colleges and investment banks. However, it doesn’t make the list of any of the top investors of today.
#12. Common Stock, Uncommon Profits and Other Writings by Philip Fisher (4 out of 24)
Originally published in 1958, Common Stock, Uncommon Profits and Other Writings by Philip Fisher was one of the books that helped shape a young Warren Buffett’s investment philosophy.
Buffett has said about the book, “I sought out Phil Fisher after reading his Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits […] A thorough understanding of the business, obtained by using Phil’s techniques […] enables one to make intelligent investment commitments.”
With insight into evaluating earnings and management, it’s easy to see how Phillip Fisher’s classic book helped Buffett build upon the concepts he learned from Benjamin Graham.
Common Stock, Uncommon Profits and Other Writings was updated by Philip Fisher’s son (popular Forbes columnist Ken Fisher) in 2003.
#13. One Up On Wall Street by Peter Lynch (4 out of 24)
Operating the Magellan Fund between 1977 to 1990, Peter Lynch returned an annual average to investors of 29%, beating the S&P Index in 11 of his 13 years at the helm.
In his book One Up On Wall Street, Lynch explains his philosophy and methods to help the individual investor succeed.
First published in 2000, making it the second youngest book on the list, One Up On Wall Street has become very popular (with over 590 reviews on Amazon) for its insights into how average investors have (and can leverage) certain advantages over large money managers.
For its simple approach to investing (one sentence summary: invest in products/companies you know and love), there’s no question One Up On Wall Street will continue to impact not only individual investors but tomorrow’s top hedge fund managers as well.
#14. When Genius Failed by Roger Lowenstein (4 out of 24)
When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management by Roger Lowenstein is a book that dives into one of the biggest financial follies of our time: the failure of Long-Term Capital Management, a $100 billion dollar hedge fund.
When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management was recently updated with a new chapter to discuss the similarities between the failure of LTCM in 1998 and the events that took place in 2008.