“The Best” Books

Invest in your financial knowledge

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.

If you find my thoughts interesting, I think you’ll also find these authors and these books interesting. Here are my quick recommendations, and you’ll find longer descriptions below.

The wisest mind has something yet to learn

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, but your price is unchanged. If you want to give back to the Best Interest–thank you!–I’d love for you to get something beneficial out of it.

Investing in knowledge pays the Best Interest

  • Or would you rather learn from three lifelong passive investors preaching the “everyman’s method”? The Bogleheads Guide to Investing, by Lindauer, LeBoeuf, and Larrimore
  • Take a big step back towards first principles: why do humans even believe in this thing called “the economy?” Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Want to see some really cool examples of top tier companies? Good to Great, by Jim Collins
  • Maybe you want to develop the habit of saving? Or break your habit of spending? The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

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.

I Will Teach You to be Rich, by Ramit Sethi

This funny book could easily be titled, “My First Book of Real Personal Finance”

It doesn’t get into some of the gritty details, but it does a terrific job explaining some simple concepts that every adult ought to know.

  • Why credit cards can be your worst enemy
  • How to properly set up various bank accounts
  • What’s a 401(k)? What’s a Roth IRA? And should you use them?

And a few more concepts. If you already know answers to the questions above, then this book probably won’t add too much new knowledge. But if you don’t know the different between a Savings account and a Checking account, this would be a great way to learn some personal finance basics.

You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, by Howard Zinn

This isn’t a personal finance book. It’s a book about our society, some of its issues, and how individual people like you and me can make a difference.

Howard Zinn saw first hand–through a blue-collar upbringing and service in World War II–how political power and governmental decisions can direct our lives. This book serves as a memoir of his actions during the Civil Rights movements, protesting wars, fighting for workers’ rights.

Perhaps most important, Zinn steadfastly encourages others, his students, and his readers to consider doing the same. Take a stand, fight for what you think is right, and attempt to make a difference.