Investing

The Charlie Munger Reading List (50 Book Recommendations)

Charlie Munger Reading List
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Charlie Munger is an American investor, a philanthropist, and a former real estate attorney. But he’s most well-known as the billionaire Vice Chairman of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, with the famed value investor describing Munger as his partner.

Like Buffett, Munger is a reading enthusiast, once saying, “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.”

Munger isn’t a fan of random facts, though. He emphasizes the importance of constructing what he calls “a latticework of interdisciplinary mental models.”

This “latticework” provides the foundation on which the wisdom you gain from reading can sit, and allows you to draw knowledge from multiple fields to better understand the world.

In turn, this can help you avoid bad judgment calls that stem from a lack of understanding about how different things — whether companies, products, investments or even entire systems — are related.  

Consequently, the list of Charlie Munger book recommendations is culled from an array of genres, ranging from finance to biographies to physics.

We’ll break this list down into three sections:

  • Books he recommends in his anthology of speeches, Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger.
  • Books he has recommended in shareholder letters and/or at a Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.
  • Other recommendations — including a number that have been attributed to Munger over the years, but which our research was unable to verify.

Recommendations From Poor Charlie’s Almanack

Poor Charlie’s Almanack is a collection of lectures, public commentary and speeches Munger has given over his career. It was compiled by Peter Kaufman.

In the appendix, Munger recommends 20 books covering a wide range of topics.

Here is a list of those books, organized by their date of first publication.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Author: Benjamin Franklin
Originally published: 1791

Benjamin Franklin accomplished much in his life, including success as a scientist, an inventor and an American founding father. His autobiography is a testament to the power of hard work and relentless self-improvement, detailing his rise from a humble childhood to success and fame.

You can download the Kindle version of the book for free here.

Also, it’s worth noting that Franklin is the author of another book — The Way to Wealth — from which this blog draws its name.

Andrew Carnegie 

Author: Joseph Frazier Wall
Originally published: 1970

Andrew Carnegie was one of America’s greatest industrialists and philanthropists. He was also an accomplished writer and peace activist. This biography details how Carnegie got rich, why he believed in giving it away, and how he attempted to use his status to influence politics for the better.

The Selfish Gene

Author: Richard Dawkins
Originally published: 1976

In The Selfish Gene, famed evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins flips on its head the popular view that organisms use genes to reproduce. He argues that, instead, genes use us to reproduce themselves. Dawkins also coined the idea of “memes” – described as self-reproducing ideas – in this book.

Dawkins also published a revised and expanded version of the book, called The Extended Selfish Gene.

Getting to Yes

Subtitle: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
Authors: Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton
Originally published: 1981

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In presents a method of negotiation called “principled negotiation,” the purpose of which is to reach a mutually-agreeable outcome without jeopardizing professional relations between both parties. 

The book lays out the five principles of this negotiation strategy, and offers a step-by-step process for putting them into action.

Influence

Subtitle: The Psychology of Persuasion
Author: Robert B. Cialdini
Originally published: 1984

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is a classic in the fields of psychology, marketing and sales. In the book, Cialdini covers six fundamental persuasion principles, explaining each and providing examples to demonstrate them in action. He also offers solutions for resisting attempts by others to use them on you.

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations 

Subtitle: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor
Author: David S. Landes
Originally published: 1998

Why do some countries rise to economic prominence, while others stay stuck in poverty? In The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, David Landes argues that a complicated web of a country’s history and its current cultural norms largely determines its economic condition.

Three Scientists and Their Gods

Subtitle: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information
Author: Robert Wright
Originally published: 1988

Robert Wright’s book explores how three eccentric scientists — computer scientist Edward Fredkin, sociobiologist Edward Wilson and economist Kenneth Boulding — attempt to make sense of life’s meaning through theories that toe the line between science and metaphysics.

Only the Paranoid Survive 

Subtitle: How to Identify and Exploit the Crisis Points that Challenge Every Business
Author: Andy Grove
Originally published: 1988

Andy Grove led chipmaker Intel through massive, industry-wide change that threatened the company. In his book Only the Paranoid Survive, he examines the strategies he used during this crisis, suggesting that other managers can use them in similar situations.

Models of My Life 

Author: Herbert A. Simon
Originally published: 1991

Herbert Simon was an economist, political scientist and psychologist whose research spanned several fields. In his autobiography, Models of My Life, he shows how he was able to apply his knowledge to so many areas of science by using mental models — a thought framework that famously underscores Munger’s approach to investing.

The Third Chimpanzee

Subtitle: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal
Author: Jared M. Diamond
Originally published: 1991

How did humans come to dominate other animal species? And how does our evolutionary heritage affect the way we live? In The Third Chimpanzee, Jared Diamond explores several human behaviors and how they relate to our animal origins.

Living Within Limits

Subtitle: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos
Author: Garrett Hardin
Originally published: 1993

In Living Within Limits, Garrett Hardin — the author of the seminal “Tragedy of the Commons” essay — argues that our planet’s resources are finite, suggesting that the human population can’t grow forever and that we may have to make hard choices in the future.

Guns, Germs, and Steel

Subtitle: The Fates of Human Societies
Author: Jared M. Diamond
Originally published: 1997

In Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, Jared Diamond argues that geographical and environmental factors played a significant role in the development of the modern world.

He also argues that environmental differences helped some societies get ahead of others, thereby creating positive feedback loops that only amplified the successes of the faster-advancing civilizations.

Titan

Subtitle: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
Author: Ron Chernow
Originally published: 1998

John D. Rockefeller is widely considered the wealthiest American ever, with his net worth peaking at $900 million in 1913 — or $418 billion in today’s money. Chernow’s Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. explores the good and the bad of this man’s life, including how he became the richest person in modern history.

Also worth noting is that while Ron Chernow is an acclaimed historian, he’s most widely known as the author of the Alexander Hamilton biography that inspired actor and musician Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the smash-hit musical Hamilton.

F.I.A.S.C.O.

Subtitle: Blood in the Water on Wall Street
Author: Frank Partnoy
Originally published: 1999

In this book, former Morgan Stanley derivatives trader Frank Partnoy offers an inside look into the competitive, cutthroat culture of Wall Street. He also takes the reader to his firm’s annual FIASCO skeet-shooting retreat, where you can watch these macho attitudes develop.

Genome

Subtitle: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters
Author: Matt Ridley
Originally published: 1999

The mapping of the human genome’s 23 chromosome pairs was arguably the most significant scientific breakthrough of the 20th century. In Genome, Matt Ridley spends a chapter on each chromosome pair, telling its story and discussing the history of our species.

The Warren Buffett Portfolio

Subtitle: Mastering the Power of the Focus Investment Strategy
Author: Robert G. Hagstrom
Originally published: 1999

In this book, Hagstrom introduces Warren Buffett’s stock picking strategies, showing ordinary investors how they can be used to profitably grow and manage a portfolio.

Hagstrom notes that this investing strategy – called focus investing – relies on the underlying business’s financials. So while you don’t have to be a financial whiz to leverage it, you may want to brush up on your foundational knowledge with our “best investing books” recommendation list.

How the Scots Invented the Modern World

Subtitle: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It
Author: Arthur Herman
Originally published: 2001

Many people know that civilizations like Rome have been quite influential on much of the modern world. But in How the Scots Invented the Modern World, Arthur Herman argues that Scotland is (surprisingly) responsible for many aspects of today’s society.

Ice Age

Subtitle: The Theory That Came In From the Cold
Authors: John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin
Originally published: 2001

In Ice Age: How a Change of Climate Made Us Human, John and Mary Gribbin detail ice ages, interglacial periods, magnetic pole flips and similar events. They also show how an ice age caused us to evolve from our ape ancestors into the humans we are today.

A Matter of Degrees 

Subtitle: What Temperature Reveals About the Past and Future of Our Species, Planet, and Universe
Author: Gino Segre
Originally published: 2002

In A Matter of Degrees theoretical physicist Gino Segre unites several of the sciences to explore the many mysteries of temperature and how it influences almost everything.

Deep Simplicity

Subtitle: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity
Author: John Gribbin
Originally published: 2004

In Deep Simplicity, John Gribbin explores the field of chaos theory, which, in essence, claims that tiny changes and differences in starting conditions can lead to wildly different outcomes. He shows how it affects events at all levels of existence, from atoms to galaxies.

Recommendations From Shareholder Letters and Annual Meetings

Munger is vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway’s board of directors, serving as Warren Buffett’s right-hand man. 

As with all public companies, Berkshire holds annual shareholder meetings. But these are more like conferences, with investors from all over the world gathering to hear from the company’s leaders.

Due to the meeting’s conference-like nature, Buffett and Munger also often recommend their favorite books. 

Here are some verified Charlie Munger book recommendations from these events, as well as some taken from letters and memos issued to shareholders.

Additionally, we’ve included book recommendations offered by Munger at Wesco Financial shareholder meetings, where he served as CEO and Chairman from 1984 to 2011.

All of the books listed below are organized by their date of first publication.

The Blind Watchmaker

Subtitle: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design
Author: Richard Dawkins
Originally published: 1986
Meeting year: Berkshire Hathaway, 2006

The title of The Blind Watchmaker references an analogy used to argue for intelligent design, a theory stating that certain parts of the universe are best explained by the presence of a god figure. Richard Dawkins argues against this theory, in favor of pure natural selection.

Hard Drive

Subtitle: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire
Authors: James Wallace and Jim Erickson
Originally published: 1992
Meeting year: Berkshire Hathaway, 1993

Bill Gates rose from humble computer hacker to become the world’s richest living person through the founding of the tech titan Microsoft. In Hard Drive, investigative journalists James Wallace and Jim Erickson document his rise to power, explaining how he achieved such immense success in what was (and still is) a brutal industry.

Master of the Game

Subtitle: How Steve Ross Rode the Light Fantastic from Undertaker to Creator of the Largest Media Conglomerate in the World
Author: Connie Bruck
Originally published: 1994
Meeting year: Berkshire Hathaway, 1994

In Master of the Game, business and political journalist Connie Bruck details the career of Steve Ross (the founder of Time Warner) as he turned his father’s funeral business into the massive media conglomerate it is today.

Benjamin Franklin

Author: Carl Van Doren
Originally published: 1917
Meeting year: Berkshire Hathaway, 1994

Benjamin Franklin has many biographies, but Munger enjoyed this one enough to recommend it. The book contains a wide selection of Franklin’s autobiographical writings, many of which were out of print for an extended period. Additionally, you’ll find several letters Franklin wrote that were never published before this book was released.

Judgement in Managerial Decision Making

Author: Max H. Bazerman
Originally published: 1986
Meeting year: Berkshire Hathaway, 1995

In this textbook, Harvard business professor Max Bazerman merges behavioral decision theory with research on organizational behavior to observe judgment in several managerial contexts. An excellent read for anyone who wants to sharpen their judgment abilities.

The Nurture Assumption 

Subtitle: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do
Author: Judith Rich Harris
Originally published: 1998
Meeting year: Berkshire Hathaway, 2016

Which has more impact on a child’s growth: nature or nurture? Many people say the answer is nurture, but Judith Rich Harris’ The Nurture Assumption argues that parents have much less of an impact on their child’s development than one might think.

Darwin’s Blind Spot

Subtitle: Evolution Beyond Natural Selection
Author: Frank Ryan
Originally published: 2002
Meeting year: Berkshire Hathaway, 2003

In Darwin’s Blind Spot: Evolution Beyond Natural Selection, Frank Ryan argues that Darwin’s theory of natural selection ignores one critical component that helps explain biodiversity: symbiosis, a mutually beneficial relationships between two organisms living in close proximity. Symbiosis is everywhere in the wild, and may even help push evolution along.

Seeking Wisdom

Subtitle: From Darwin to Munger
Author: Peter Bevelin
Originally published: 2003
Meeting year: Wesco, 2007

Munger himself partly inspired Peter Bevelin to seek out wisdom from as many sources as possible, and to eventually create Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger. In this book, Bevelin compiles “worldly wisdom” from great thinkers across many eras and fields, with the goal of helping readers change the way they think and act for the better.

Conspiracy of Fools

Subtitle: A True Story
Author: Kurt Eichenwald
Originally published: 2005
Meeting year: Wesco, 2007

Several massive accounting scandals rocked the financial world at the turn of the 21st century – Enron being at the forefront. In Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story, Kurt Eichenwald dives into the Enron scandal to explain exactly what happened and why.

Fortune’s Formula

Subtitle: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street
Author: William Poundstone
Originally published: 2005
Meeting year: Wesco, 2016

Computer scientist Claude Shannon and physicist John Kelly, Jr. applied information theory — the science underpinning computers — to win big in casinos and in the stock market. Fortune’s Formula tells their story.

No Two Alike

Subtitle: Human Nature and Human Individuality
Author: Judith Rich Harris
Originally published: 2006
Meeting year: Berkshire Hathaway, 2016

No two human beings are exactly alike. But why does every individual have a unique personality? Judith Rich Harris explores this in No Two Alike, arguing that what we all share as humans is what makes us so different from each other.

The Martians of Science

Subtitle: Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century
Author: Istvan Hargittai
Originally published: 2006
Meeting year: Wesco, 2007

As a young chemist, Istvan Hargittai met five Hungarian physicists known as the “Martians of Science.” Each one made significant scientific achievements, from winning a Nobel Prize in physics to developing the modern computer. In this book, Hargittai explores the wisdom of each.

Einstein

Subtitle: His Life and Universe
Author: Walter Isaacson
Originally published: 2007
Meeting year: Wesco, 2007

Einstein is responsible for developing some of the most important theories in physics, such as the theory of relativity. In Einstein: His Life and Universe, Walter Isaacson (who also wrote the most popular Steve Jobs biography) does more than simply explore this genius’s discoveries; he attempts to bring him to life, painting a portrait of a complex man that defies the common caricature of a mad but brilliant scientist standing before a chalkboard.

Outliers

Subtitle: The Story of Success
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Originally published: 2008
Meeting year: Wesco, 2009

What sets high achievers apart from everyone else? According to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, we should pay less attention to what successful people are like, and more to the environmental and cultural influences on their lives.

Yes!

Subtitle: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive
Authors: Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin and Robert B. Cialdini
Originally published: 2008
Meeting year: Berkshire Hathaway, 2008

Want to learn ways to be persuasive? Noah Goldstein, Robert Cialdini and Steve J. Martin offer you 50 ways to do so — many of which are counterintuitive — in this book. Each one is accompanied by stories and examples so you understand them better.

The Greatest Trade Ever 

Subtitle: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History
Author: Gregory Zuckerman
Originally published: 2009
Meeting year: Wesco, 2010

John Paulson was one of the Wall Streeters who saw the sub-prime mortgage crisis coming. He bet against it, and eventually profited immensely. In The Greatest Trade Ever, Gregory Zuckerman shows us how Paulson managed to pull off such a significant financial coup.

Related: Check out the book recommendation list from Michael Burry, who also famously shorted the housing market.

In The Plex

Subtitle: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives
Author: Steven Levy
Originally published: 2011
Meeting year: Berkshire Hathaway, 2011

Google’s had such an extreme cultural impact that the phrase “Google it” is now synonymous with “look it up.” But how did Google become the behemoth it is today? In this book, Steven Levy takes readers inside the company to highlight its history and operations.

The Club

Subtitle: Johnson, Boswell, and the Friends Who Shaped an Age
Author: Leo Damrosch
Originally published: 2019
Meeting year: Berkshire Hathaway, 2020

In late 18th-Century Britain, several prominent thinkers met for dinner and drinks every Friday night at a tavern in London. While there, they aired their opinions and discussed the times. This group became known as “The Club,” and Damrosch’s book of the same name dives into how their conversations shaped the era.

Other Recommendations

Our goal with this post was to provide the most complete and accurate list of Charlie Munger’s book recommendations. To compile this list, we scoured many sources — including other lists published on the web.

However, we were not able to independently verify that Munger actually recommended many of the titles attributed to him by other articles. The list below highlights those books, as well as a few that we were able to verify, but which do not fit into the categories above.

We will continue researching and updating this list if and when we’re able to verify this information.

  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl (1946). Although this title appears on nearly every Charlie Munger reading list, we have been unable to definitively confirm that he has ever talked about the book.
  • The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Path to Power by Robert Caro (1982). Munger allegedly recommended this book at the 2004 Wesco annual meeting.
  • Pride in Performance: Keep It Going! by Les Schwab (1986). Although it appears on nearly every Charlie Munger reading list, we have been unable to definitively confirm that he has ever talked about the book.
  • Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco (1989). Munger allegedly recommended this book at Berkshire’s 1992 annual meeting.
  • Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart (1992). Munger allegedly recommended this book at Berkshire’s 1992 annual meeting.
  • The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language by Steven Pinker (1994). Munger recommended the book in this transcript.
  • Getting it Done: How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge by John Richardson and Roger Fisher (1998): Munger wrote a blurb for the book, saying, “This book is must reading for those seeking to maximize their contribution to the constructive work of the world.”
  • Distant Force: A Memoir of the Teledyne Corporation and the Man Who Created It, with an Introduction to Teledyne Technologies by G. A. Roberts (2007). This recommendation is unverified, but Munger did discuss Henry Singleton, the founder of Teledyne, at the 2013 Berkshire shareholder meeting.
  • The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns by John C. Bogle (2007). This recommendation — which was written by the famed Vanguard founder/fund manager who pioneered the concept of investing in market indexes — appears on Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholder meeting official books list, with a blurb from Munger.
  • The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It by Scott Patterson (2010). This recommendation is unverified, but it was reportedly “Charlie’s pick” for the 2010 on-site bookstore at Berkshire’s annual meeting.
  • The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William Thorndike (2012). This recommendation is unverified, though the following quote is widely attributed to Munger: “A book that details the extraordinary success of CEOs who took a radically different approach to corporate management.”
  • A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss (2012). Munger recommended this book at a Daily Journal Corporation meeting on Feb. 6th, 2013 (source).
  • Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field: How Two Men Revolutionized Physics by Nancy Forbes and Basil Mahon (2014): Munger recommended this book in a 2014 appearance on CNBC, as relayed by Business Insider.

Summary

Munger often praises reading, once saying, “as long as I have a book in my hand, I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time.” 

But he’s also said this about reading:

“But that’s not enough: You have to have a temperament to grab ideas and do sensible things. Most people don’t grab the right ideas or don’t know what to do with them.” 

In other words, reading alone may stimulate the mind and improve the intellect, but it’s what you do with your newfound knowledge that brings you results.

The books listed above, which come from an array of wildly separate disciplines, will help you build the type of “latticework of knowledge” that Munger cites as being essential for a successful investor.

If you’d like to see what some of the other top investors think you should be reading, check out the additional lists below:

R.J. Weiss
R.J. Weiss is the founder and editor of The Ways To Wealth, a Certified Financial Planner™, husband and father of three. He's spent the last 10+ years writing about personal finance and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, MSN Money, and other publications.

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