Introductory books suitable for most retail investors without a background in finance or investing.
A Random Walk Down Wall Streetby
If you read only one book about investing in your lifetime, make it this one. Malkiel covers efficient market hypothesis, emphasizing that individual investors cannot consistently outperform the market through stock picking or market timing, and instead advocates for a long-term, diversified investment strategy, particularly through index funds. The book counsels readers on understanding risk and reward, the importance of asset allocation, the value of dollar-cost averaging, and the impact of psychological biases on investment decisions.
Central Banking 101by
The best introductory book we’ve seen on central banking. The book highlights fundamental concepts such as monetary policy, interest rates, the banking system, and the effects of these factors on the economy, providing readers with a comprehensive high-level understanding of central banking functions. The book shines in how accessible it makes these complex topics. If you want to know what money really is, where it comes from, and how the plumbing of it comes together, this is the best book to get started.
These are highly accessible books that go into a bit more detail than the 'beginner' series. Still intended for regular retail investors, but you’re going to see some equations.
The Little Book of Valuation: How to Value a Company, Pick a Stock and Profitby
An indispensable tool for value investors, the book breaks down intricate financial concepts into understandable terms, making the often intimidating process of valuation accessible to all. Its practical approach helps investors discern between overpriced stocks and real opportunities. Damodaran walks through the entire process of how to actually value a stock, showing the foundation of value investing. This is a great resource that simplifies a lot of complexity.
The best introductory resource for financial statement analysis. Understanding these statements (balance sheet, incomes statements, cash flows statement) are critical to value investing - Ittelson provides a great overview of each.
What Works on Wall Streetby
A comprehensive guide to quantitative investment strategies. O’Shaughnessy studies various investment methods, such as buying small stocks, low P/E stocks, and stocks with high dividend yields, ultimately concluding that certain quantitative strategies, particularly those involving value, have historically provided the best returns. He demonstrates the importance of discipline, patience, and a long-term investment approach to achieve success.
Contrarian Investment Strategiesby
A value-based approach to investing in unpopular companies and trends, avoiding bubbles, and knowing how to spot stocks when they are on sale. A particularly good guide to have during times of market turbulence.
More technical books that require more commitment from the reader. These are the real noodle cookers.
Financial Statement Analysis and Security Valuationby
A comprehensive text book that thouroughly covers financial statement analysis and the tie from there to fundamental stock valuation. Both a strong learning guide as well as a handy reference tool.
Investment Valuation: Tools and Techniques for Determining the Value of Any Assetby
Probably the most comprehensive valuation textbook available - an excellent resource.
The Handbook of Fixed Income Securitiesby
This is everything there is to know about bonds, full stop. It is a massive tome and not light reading. That said, it’s great reference material to have nearby when you need it, and until then it works as a fantastic monitor stand also.
Trades, Quotes and Prices: Financial Markets Under the Microscopeby
A deeply technical book about the plumbing of stock trading. Covers liquidity, market-making, price spreads and slippage, in incredible detail and based in the actual mechanics and frictions of contemporary markets as opposed to theoretical exchanges. To be clear, this book is incredibly unnecessary for an average retail investor who is dollar-cost-averaging into ETFs - but for the inquisitive mind who wants to understand the details of exchange pricing mechanics, this is where to look.
These are the absolute classics that literally defined fundamental stock valuation and efficient market theory. They are old and can be quite detailed and wonkish, but classics are classics for a reason.
Often considered the bible of fundamental stock analysis, this book presents a systematic approach to analyzing securities, focusing on a company’s financial statements, competitive position, and management.
The Intelligent Investorby
Another classic from Benjamin Graham, this book is a guide for individual investors, emphasizing the importance of a disciplined and value-focused approach to investing. It teaches readers how to make sound investment decisions by analyzing a company’s fundamentals. Don’t be scared that it’s old - the content is timeless.
The Theory of Investment Valueby
This book introduced the concept of discounted cash flow valuation, a fundamental technique in stock analysis. Williams argues that the value of a stock should be based on the present value of its future cash flows, providing a rigorous framework for estimating intrinsic value. The book is definitely dated, but a classic worth checking out.
Books that explore and explain the psychological biases that impact individual investors, and aggregate market behavior.
Beyond Greed and Fearby
Shefrin explains how investors often behave irrationally due to cognitive biases like overconfidence, herd mentality, loss aversion, and anchoring - and he shows how these biases can lead to systematic errors that impact market prices and create opportunities for more rational (value) investors. The only knock against it would be a consideration that as automated algo trading continues to drive a greater preportion of trade activity, how much of an impact will human cognitive biases continue to have on market prices?
Thinking, Fast and Slowby
Kahneman is the godfather of behavioral finance. This book is not focused on finance or investing, but is his attempt to aggregate many of the cognitive biases he has studied over his career and explain each, and how they impact our decision making.