“The Best” Books

Simply put, these are books that influence what and why I blog here on the Best Interest. They have altered my perspectives on finance, or society, or life. Personally, I usually borrow my books (it’s free!) at the library. But sometimes I want a copy to keep, and Amazon is great for that.

If you find my thoughts interesting, I think you’ll also find these authors and these books interesting.

Full disclosure. The below are affiliate links. Oh no?!

Don’t worry. There is no extra cost to you. Amazon gives The Best Interest a 4.5% cut of books sold via the links below. Or, support a local bookstore! Or check them out from the library! I just hope that you find the same intrigue in this books as I did.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street, by Burton Malkiel

Malkiel takes the reader for a walk down Wall Street, discussing different investments and different investor strategies. Along the way, he details what academic research supports as the best investment strategy. Any guesses?

Early chapter discuss the history of investing and famous bubbles—very interesting for you crypto aficionados.

Later chapters go over some Wall Street basics. It can be complicated for first-timers, but it’s all useful knowledge.

The book finishes with great advice on how to apply the knowledge in the book as an average citizen, whether early or late in your career.

The Bogleheads Guide to Investing, by Lindauer, LeBoeuf, and Larrimore

Here’s another one focused on the details and structures on the investing world. The three authors are all “Bogleheads,” a self-named group of like-minded folks who follow the advice of Vanguard founder Jack Bogle. Bogle invented the index fund.

This book describes different investing options, and then lays out the simple investing strategies that the Bogleheads have used successfully for decades. There’s no complex trading schemes or constant stream of buy and sell advice. Instead, put a little money into 2 or 3 places every month, and hold that investment until you retire. They literally call it The Lazy Portfolio.

Sounds easy? That’s the point!

Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari

Why is a one green piece of paper worth a bundle of bananas?

And then a different green piece of paper is worth a whole shopping cart of food?

A piece of plastic buys a car, and all we see is a number on a digital display change. Why?

This isn’t a finance book, but it will blow your mind anyway.

Yuval Noah Harari focuses on how humans’ unique brains enabled the world that we see today. Harari argues (controversially, mind you) that our world is built on imagination. Some of the most powerful structures in society—religion, economics, governments—are all built on a mutual trust that we are all imagining the same thing. Birds can’t do it, dogs can’t either. Some monkey could maybe do a little, but Sapiens unlocked a true revolution via imagination.

The Four Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss

Haven’t we all had the moment in life when we pause and ask, “Why answer customer complaints for 14 hours a day when I can move to Argentina and become a world champion tango dancer?”

Ahh, Tim Ferriss. If you haven’t heard of Tim, he’s a “world’s most interesting man” type. He knows a lot, he’s done a lot, he experiments a lot. You get the feeling that he just wants to try everything.

The Four Hour Work Week is a how-to guide from Tim, based on his own experiences. He went from a burn-out office job to a burn-out (but very successful) entrepreneurial venture, and then found a way to automate or delegate just about all of his responsibilities. And yes, he became a champion tango dancer.

While sometimes Tim markets himself a bit too much in this book, a lot of his actual advice is great. For example, Tim loves the Pareto principle. And I love the Pareto principle. 80% of the outcomes come from 20% of the inputs. So focus on those 20% of the inputs, get your 80% of the outcomes, and then go find some other dance to become world champion of.

Good to Great, by Jim Collins

I don’t worship at the altar of Corporate America, but I do think that this book has lessons that normal people can apply to their normal lives. For example, this is where I first read about the Stockdale Paradox. It was love at first sight.  

This book takes an in-depth look at a few companies that made huge leaps from “good company” to “great company.” Just what makes the greats so much better than the goods? Even though I’d rather read about personal improvement than corporate improvement, I found this book extremely interesting.

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

I’m constantly struggling with maintaining good habits in exercise and diet. But, my spending is very disciplined.

I have friends who eat and lift like Olympians—and it shows. But they lose all self-control at the slightest whisper of “20% off sale.”

What gives?! How can I be so different than them, but also so similar?

The secrets lies in habits. How they’re formed, how they manifest themselves, and how we can overcome them. Using Duhigg’s book, I’m slowly (but surely) making progress in identifying my bad habits, overcoming them, and building new (good) habits.