Holiday Reading: Investment Guide Books

by: Larry MacDonald

Many investment books are bought at Christmas time to give as gifts to investors or would-be investors. A capsule guide to current offerings might thus be timely. Let’s review selected entries on’s top 100 investment bestsellers (although this listing is very fluid):

Jim Cramer's Mad Money: Watch TV, Get Rich (Jim Cramer): How much more can be learned from someone who has written three previous investment books and inundated TV, radio and the Internet with his tips and advice?

Why We Want You to be Rich (Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki): Infomercial for authors’ financial products. Promotes “positive thinking and ‘can do’ haziness -- details cost extra.”

The Demise of the Dollar (Addison Wiggin): The U.S. is going down the tubes. As the U.S. dollar crumbles, profit by owning precious metals, tangible resources, and selected foreign stocks.

The Total Money Makeover (Dave Ramsey): “Financial preacher man” on radio and TV gives tips on budgeting, saving and avoiding the debt demon.

The Smartest Investment Book You’ll Ever Read (Daniel Solin): Hyperactive investing bad; index investing good.

Enhancing Trader Performance (Dr. Brett Steenbarger): A look at the psychology of trading by a psychology professor who is also a trader and blogger (TraderFeed).

More Than You Know (Michael Mauboussin): There are lessons for investors in “Tiger Wood’s golf swing, Tupperware parties, and guppies’ mating behavior.” Burton Malkiel and others endorse it.

Inside the House of Money (Steven Drobny): Candid interviews with hedge fund managers about their investing methods and experiences. A “fantastic book,” said reviewer.

The Little Book of Value Investing (Christopher Browne): A professional value investor (and Conrad Black’s nemesis) pens a tome on value investing but in a clearer way than most.

The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need (Andrew Tobias): Eighth edition of a 1978 book arguing that investing is one field where hard work does not pay off. The best return on investing comes from spending less and no-load index funds.

The Automatic Millionaire (David Bach): Eighty-thousand words convey three-word message: “Pay Yourself First.”

Jim Cramer's Real Money: Sane Investing in an Insane World (James Cramer): Describes the methods Cramer used as a hedge fund manager: fundamental analysis (balance sheets, etc.), sector rotation, a “buy and homework” trading style, etc.

Unconventional Success (David Swensen): Clear-headed writing by the manager of Yale University’s Endowment Fund about avoiding mutual funds, brokers, market timing, and stock picking in favor of passive investing, indexing, asset allocation, and rebalancing.

The Four Pillars of Investing (William Bernstein): Written by a surgeon with a passion for investing, it’s on its way to becoming a classic -- deals with asset allocation, behavioral finance, and the active vs. passive investing debate.

Yes, You Can Time the Market (Ben Stein): You can’t time the market short term but you can buy stocks when they are cheap and time (hold) the market long term.

Just One Thing (John Mauldin, Editor): Twelve investment experts reveal their one best investment concept, resulting in a diversity of content such as traders’ rules “e.g. cut losses, let profits run", flaws in market-cap indexing, and importance of behavioral finance.

Trading in the Zone (Mark Douglas): Trading the markets for short-term profits is not just about gathering a lot of technical and fundamental indicators, but also about you – your emotions and thought processes.