I have been investing in stocks and using simple options strategies since the early 1970s. I was nearly wiped out in 1987 and 2001/2002, but got through 2008 in fairly good shape, so I may be learning something. I believe that the only chance a small investor has to beat the professionals is to avoid areas with heavy professional involvement. That means small or specialized companies, long time horizons and approaches which don't scale into the millions. My Favorite investing books are Benjamin Graham: "The Intelligent Investor"--especially the afterword, Edwin Lefevre: "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator," and Burton Malkiel: "A Random Walk Down Wall Street." Others are good, but those stand out. I have a doctorate in chemistry. I worked on the chemistry of DNA synthesis and on chemical carcinogens. Then I worked in the food industry, having occasional contact with FDA. After that I did computer programming for the home entertainment industry and edited documents relating to communications. My largest gain on a stock was 50-fold, but I have had about half a dozen companies go broke under me.