The Best Finance Books
As mentioned in the [why finance classes] blog, everyone learns at a different pace, and through different means. Whether you’re new to the finance world, or an already-seasoned investor, there will always be room to learn a little bit more. Not everyone has the time or inclination to take a class. That structure might not be the best for you or your schedule, so we’ve made a list of suggested books for investors of all experience levels. Most are available digitally, and many of them as audio books, so you can read them on your lunch break or listen to them during your commute.
Presented in no particular order, here are fifteen of the best books you can read to better understand finance, money and the economy:
Rich Dad Poor Dad - Robert Kiyosaki
Having sold nearly 40 million copies worldwide, Robert Kiyosaki’s book has been a staple of finance graduates for over 20 years. Comparing the life advice and lessons the author learned from his father (poor dad), and a wealthy mentor (as you may have guessed, rich dad), Kiyosaki’s book offers a new point of view that many readers find startling.
From discussing the failing education system (designed, in his opinion to create workaday employees), to how systematic limitations keep the poor and middle class in place, Rich Dad, Poor Dad’s fresh perspective has the power to really energize its readers.
Freakonomics - Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s wildly popular book (series and now a podcast) explores practical examples of economic theory. Through their witty questions about seemingly unrelated topics, they reveal a lot about how the world works. A lot less dry than it sounds, Levitt and Dubner ask questions about things like cheating in sumo wrestling, and the effectiveness of car seats.
Much more breezy and reader-friendly than most literature on economic theory, this will help novices understand how correlation works, and the real-world applications of data analytics.
A Random Walk Down Wall Street - Burton Malkiel
Another widely used book amongst those dipping a toe into investment strategy [link to wealth services], and the stock market at large, Burton Malkiel gives a brief overview of the history of investing, the creation of market bubbles, common strategies and more. From Tulipomania in the 1600’s to the dot com boom of the late 1990’s, he works to explore habits and tendencies that investors just can’t seem to break.
Going further into the fundamentals of technical analysis[services], market efficiencies and risk tolerance, this is great for beginners and intermediates alike. Writing in a fluid, coherent way, Malkiel’s work is easily digestible.
Billion Dollar Whale - Tom Wright and Bradley Hope
Sparking a lot of controversy when it was published, Tom Wright and Bradley Hope’s novel is more about the absurdities that run rampant in the financial system, than it is about setting a good example. Exposing the five BILLION dollar scam propagated by Jho Low, Billion Dollar Whale mixes true-crime with the world of high finance.
Although it might not give readers a healthy basis for how to manage their own money (let alone confidence in the market as a whole), it will give novices as well as experts a glimpse into the lives of the super rich, and how even something as powerful as global finance can be taken advantage of.
Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill
An old standard, Think and Grow Rich was written in 1937 as a testament to the powerful business magnates of the day. Published during the great depression, it is intended as a self-help manual to do exactly what the title suggests: to think and grow rich.
Structured as a series of fourteen principles towards those aims, Napoleon Hill interviewed businessmen and the wealthy to discover their secrets. Finding common ground between them, he noted each and later grew them into his principals. Having sold nearly 100 million copies, Think and Grow Rich has served as the foundation for finance courses and much of the finance self-help literature of today.
The Millionaire Next Door - William D. Danko and Thomas J. Stanley
Initially setting out to uncover the spending habits of the rich, William D. Danko and Thomas J. Stanley found that quite a few millionaires are living far below their means (and society’s expectations of them). Dividing the world into UAW and PAW’s (under and prodigious accumulators of wealth), the authors discovered that, when compared to high-income white collar workers, PAW’s invested and saved their money more, and neglected showing their wealth[services].
Set up as a guide on how to “temper” your expectations, The Millionaire Next Door shows that it is strong saving habits, budgeting and investing that builds millionaires, not living up to a certain image.
The One Page Financial Plan - Carl Richards
As a certified financial planner (CFP)[link to about], Carl Richards fields a lot of questions from friends about how to manage their wealth, and how to invest[services]. The One-Page Financial Plan is his response. By crafting a unique system that asks of its readers common sense, and simple questions about what they’re after, Richards has created a way for people to find out more about their options.
Great for those just starting their financial journey, or for those looking to step back and reassess, this is a brief, easy read that will help reframe the discussions you have with yourself or with loved ones.
Get a Financial Life: Personal Finance in your Twenties and Thirties - Beth Kobliner
In writing Get a Financial Life, Beth Kobliner went about as straightforward as you can get. Designed for, as the title suggests, young people just starting their careers, this manual touches on everything from filing your taxes to doing a more thorough job than we did [link to the building a roth IRA section of personal finance habits article] at reviewing the benefits of a Roth IRA.
With chapter one acting as sort of a “cheat sheet” for the rest of the book, Kobliner writes an exceedingly accessible guide for novices that has in-build features for checking in as readers start their financial journeys.
The Undoing Project - Michael Lewis
The first of two Michael Lewis books on this list, The Undoing Project looks at the birth of Big Data and the two researchers that started it all. In the 1970’s, psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky published several papers on human behavior and our inability to think logically in times of uncertainty.
Rewriting the book (through academic papers) on the processes of decision making, this is an illuminating read that shows just how bad we are at keeping our emotions at bay. While this might not give you financial advice[services] or teach you how to more efficiently save money, it will certainly remind you to step back and think (or even get a second opinion[contact us]) before making any big decisions.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game - Michael Lewis
If Lewis’ The Undoing Process is about how poorly equipped humans are at large-scale decision making, Moneyball is about putting analytics, technology and statistics to the test. Profiling how Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane used sabermetrics (baseball analytics) to hire undervalued players, Lewis’ book has helped spark a revolution in sports.
Despite its sports framework, we recommend Moneyball not so you can help improve your kid’s little league chances, but because it uses a real-world example of how important data is in determining long term success.
Why Didn’t they Teach Me this in School - Cary Siegel
Another in the “life lessons” category is Cary Siegel’s collection of 99 tips will help anyone struggling to make sense of personal finance. Positing itself as the primer to personal money management, Why Didn’t They Teach Me This in School asks exactly that: if math, english and science are considered essential, why isn’t dealing with money?
Written to teach Siegel’s own kids about the world of money, this project bloomed and eventually became what it is today. While the marketing will have you believe that this is perfect for high school grads and college students, we would go further to say that this is perfect for frustrated savers, budgeters and begrudging tax doers of any age.
The White Coat Investor - Dr. James M. Dahle
Understanding that some professions carry with them a more-taxing schedule, massive educational debt, big paychecks and little financial education, Dr. James M. Dahle decided to help his fellow physicians out. Seeing that he and his friends were falling prey to financial gurus and shifty investment “professionals”, The White Coat Investor is a primer in money management for those upper echelon professions where the money coming in can really provide access to “the good life”.
Not only does it go into a deeper explanation of the financial system, investments and savings strategies, Dahle’s book offers practical advice for members of his profession who he believes have a target on their back when it comes to money. Giving readers the power and knowledge to ask questions and challenge would-be scammers, this is essential reading for anyone in the medical profession who is tired of feeling inferior about their own money management.
The Wealthy Gardener - John Soforic
This is really in a category all by itself. When writing this advice (as many of the books on this list, for the author’s child), John Soforic decided that the best way to teach was part parable, part anecdote. That’s exactly what he did with The Wealthy Gardener. Each “lesson” is introduced by a fabricated story followed by a real-world example. Though it might be a little sentimental for some, The Wealthy Gardener contains within it some valuable lessons about gaining financial freedom.
Written with humility and from the perspective of a loving father, Soforic’s book aims to guide its readers toward better decision making, hard work and common sense approaches to money management.
Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness - Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein
Voted as one of the best books of 2008 by The Economist, Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein’s book raises questions about economic models involving “homo economicus” that assume individuals in a market all act rationally and with inherently self-serving desires. Following a term they call Libertarian Paternalism, the authors lay out their ideas in a format where people should be free to do as they please, but wherein system architects (the government, unions, professional associations) are equally free to try to steer people in the right direction.
Though this won’t be for beginners, or those looking for practical advice, it will prove to be an interesting read for those inclined to better understand decision making processes, the economy and the assumptions everyone has made regarding both.
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns - John C. Bogle
Written by the former CEO of Vanguard, this book on index investing takes aim at people looking to make a fair return without the “fake” hype of market beating. Claiming that his simple strategy will allow investors to make consistent returns at a low cost (brokers’ fees, management percentages), John C. Bogle’s lifetime in the upper tiers of the financial world lends authority to his words.
Building around the basics of index funds and the investment strategies[services] within, this will be perfect for any mid-level investor looking to attain good value for their money while still making a handsome return. Helping readers understand the impact that taxes, and compounding costs have on their investments, Bogle’s sixth book is definitely worth the read.