Top Books by Top Subjects

Our company Kindle account today has 1138 titles, of which I have completed at least 500.  There was a time when I obsessed over completing books cover to cover, as if it was some sort of conquest.  While not the most efficient approach to learning, I think this obsession served me well over the years, because while most books are not that great, many are still interesting, and even a bad book can turn out to be precious. The German sociologist Max Weber, who was one of the most voracious readers in history, never turned down an opportunity to learn from a bad book.  But then again, in his day, a book had to be good enough to justify printing.  These days, with the advent of digital self-publishing, the amount of garbage out there would be unthinkable to Weber.

So, all told, my collection of uncompleted books has swelled to the hundreds.  And yet, the more garbage I consume, the more I appreciate those few precious books that stand out.  Being one of those people that cannot bear having to re-watch a movie, it’s incredible how I never seem to tire from re-reading my favorite books over and over, especially the ones on investing.  The book I have re-read the most over the years is Phil Fisher’s Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits (1958), which for a long time was my favorite book, although it recently took second place to 100 to 1 in the Stock Market (1972), by Thomas Phelps. Barton Biggs’ Wealth, War & Wisdom (2008) is still up there, as are Democracy in America (1835/40) and The Great Depression, A Diary (1930s), but investing is my favorite subject, so the top two are hard to unseat.

Below I update my top four list by subject. These are the ones that, if I had more time, I would re-read.  Note that this list changes with time as my perceptions change. There are some books I downgraded after re-reading, such as The Davis Dynasty (2001) by John Rothchild, and others that I upgraded, such as Ray Dalio’s Principles (2017).  Also note that there is considerable overlap among the subject matters.

If you see a title that interests you and want to know why I liked it so much, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Cheers,

Adriano.

TOP 4 BY SUBJECT (updated October 25, 2022)

INVESTING

  1. 100 to 1 in the Stock Market (1972) – Thomas Phelps
  2. Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits (1958) – Phil Fisher
  3. Quality Investing (2016) – Torkell Eide
  4. Principles (2017) – Ray Dalio

INVESTOR BIOGRAPHIES

  1. Killing the Market (2016) – Roemer McPhee
  2. T. Rowe Price (2019) – Cornelius Bond
  3. The Rule (2019) – Larry Hite
  4. Keynes: The Return of the Master (2009) – Robert Skidelsky

NON-INVESTOR BIOGRAPHIES

  1. The Beatles: The Biography (2005) – Bob Spitz
  2. Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (2013) – Reza Aslan
  3. Hamilton (2004) – Ron Chernow
  4. Churchill (2018) – Andrew Roberts

MARKETS

  1. Wealth War & Wisdom (2008) – Barton Biggs
  2. The Great Wave (1996) – David Hackett Fischer
  3. Fifty Years in Wall Street (1908) – Henry Clews
  4. Markets Never Forget (2011) – Ken Fisher

COMPANIES

  1. Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon (2021) – Colin Bryar
  2. Repeatability: Build Enduring Businesses for a World of Constant Change (2012) – Chris Zook
  3. Honest Weight: The Story of Toledo Scale (1999) – Bob Terry
  4. Made in America (1992) – Sam Walton

SOCIAL HISTORY

  1. The Cycles of American History (1986) – Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
  2. The End is Always Near (2019) – Dan Carlin
  3. Only Yesterday (1931) – Frederick Lewis Allen
  4. The Invention of Yesterday (2019) – Tamim Ansary

GEOPOLITICAL HISTORY

  1. The Rise and Fall of Great Powers (1987) – Paul Kennedy
  2. The Next 100 Years (2009) – George Friedman
  3. World Order (2014) – Henry Kissinger
  4. The Gates of Europe (2015) – Serhii Plokhy

PSYCHOLOGY

  1. The Selfish Gene (1976) – Richard Dawkins
  2. The Wisdom of Crowds (2004) – James Surowiecki
  3. The Hidden Habits of Genius (2020) – Craig Wright
  4. Everybody Lies (2017) – Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

NEGOTIATION

  1. Start with No (2002) – Jim Camp
  2. Arms and Influence (1966) – Thomas Schelling
  3. Getting Past No (1993) – William Ury
  4. Negotiating to Win (2020) – Alan Schoonmaker

STRATEGY

  1. Zero to One (2014) – Peter Thiel
  2. The Firm: The Story of McKinsey (2016) – Duff McDonald
  3. The Art of War (5th Century BC) – Sun Tzu, translated by Thomas Cleary (2011)
  4. Irrationally Passionate (2020) – Jason Kothari

TECHNOLOGY

  1. Platform Delusion (2021) – Jonathan A. Knee
  2. Nothing but Net (2021) – Mark Mahaney
  3. The World Beyond Physics (2019) – Stuart Kauffman
  4. Platform Revolution (2016) – Jeoffrey Parker

PHILOSOPHY

  1. A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues (1995) – Andre Comte-Sponville
  2. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974) – Robert M. Pirsig
  3. The Poverty of Historicism (1956) – Karl Popper
  4. Tolstoy: A Russian Life (2011) – Rosemund Bartlett

RELIGION

  1. God in Search of Man (1955) – Abraham Joshua Heschel
  2. The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary (2008) – Robert Alter
  3. Paul the Traveler (1974) – Ernle Bradford
  4. Bible and Sword (1965) – Barbara Tuchman

MONEY

  1. The Future of Money (2021) – Eswar S. Prasad
  2. Money Mischief (1992) – Milton Friedman
  3. The Ascent of Money (2008) – Niall Ferguson
  4. 21st Century Monetary Policy (2022) – Ben Bernanke

ECONOMICS

  1. The Great Depression: A Diary (Written in the 1930s, published in 2009) – Benjamin Roth
  2. The Money Revolution (2022) – Richard Duncan
  3. Lords of Finance (2009) – Liaquat Ahamed
  4. A History of Interest Rates (1963) – Sidney Homer

POLITICAL SCIENCE

  1. John Kenneth Galbraith (2005) – Richard Parker
  2. The Man Who Understood Democracy (2022) – Oliver Zunz
  3. Coming Apart (2012) – Charles Murray
  4. The Great Debate (2013) – Yuval Levin

SELF HELP

  1. Mindset (2006) – Carol Dweck
  2. The Passion Paradox (2019) – Brad Slulberg
  3. Prescription for Life (2014) – Richard Furman
  4. Backable (2021) – Suneel Gupta

ART

  1. Goethe (2017) – Rudiger Safransky
  2. Balzac (1946) – Stefan Zweig
  3. Duchamp’s Pipe (2020) – Celia Rabinovitch
  4. Broken Music: A Memoir (2003) – Sting

CLASSICS

  1. Democracy in America (1835/40) – Alexis de Tocqueville
  2. A Monetary History of the United States (1963) – Anna Schwartz and Milton Friedman
  3. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (1923) – Edwin Lefevre
  4. Man’s Search for Meaning (1946) – Viktor Frankl

MAXIMS

  1. The Maxims (1665) – Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld, translated by J. W. Willis Bund
  2. Maxims and Reflections (1906) – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, translated by Bailey Saunders
  3. Selections from the Maxims of Washington (2012) – compiled by J. F. Schroeder
  4. Napoleon’s Military Maxims (2011) – translated by Colonel D’Aguilar

PARENTING

  1. Showing Up for Life (2009) – Bill Gates Sr.
  2. Grit (2016) – Angela Duckworth
  3. Don’t Trust Your Gut (2022) – Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
  4. The Road Back to You (2016) – Ian Morgan Cron

SHORT SELLING

  1. Downside Protection (2019) – Nitin Sacheti
  2. The Art of Short Selling (1996) – Kathryn Staley
  3. Dead Company Walking (2015) – Scott Fearon
  4. A Life on TheStreet (2014) – Doug Kass

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