A friend asked how many books I had read over the past few years, wanting a recommendation for something to read over the holidays. I had to pause a few minutes to think about the answer and was more than a little surprised to tell him the number: fifty-four — since January of 2008.
“Fifty-four?” he asked, “Well, which were your favorites then?”
“That’s almost like asking which of my three children I love the most,” I kidded. “I’ll make a list and email it to you.” This article is the result of that email (and these are in no particular order).
My Favorite Books
I’ve reviewed most of these on The Wisdom Journal. Feel free to check out my Book Reviews category.
How A Second Grader Beats Wall Street
Allan Roth’s book, How A Second Grader Beats Wall Street, is a MUST READ resource for anyone looking to increase their wealth with the least amount of risk and the most opportunity for growth. As a recovering “return chaser,” this book held an “AHA!” moment for me (now it’s one one of my favorite books on investing).
Hindsight is always 20/20. Humans can spot a “trend” that ties in nicely with the financial markets using anything from sunspot activity to migrating ladybugs and it all is worthless for predicting financial markets.
Just a couple of the ideas Allan Roth covers in this book:
1. You’re paying far more in fees than you realize.
2. You cannot predict where the stock market will be in [insert ANY length of time here].
3. Wall Street gurus don’t know either. They’re just really good at convincing others that they know what they’re talking about. Remember that most “experts” were advising us to buy Lehman Brothers and Wachovia (among others) just days before they collapsed.
4. The fees and taxes we pay cause our real returns to shrink to a fraction of our perceived returns.
5. Our biases (and our financial planner’s biases) can cause us to lose big money over the long run.
Outliers: The Story of Success
In Outliers: The Story of Success one of the most delightful books I’ve read in a long, long time, author Malcolm Gladwell outlines the way people from The Beatles to the feuding Hatfields and McCoys to a struggling family in Jamaica become successful, or don’t become successful (in the case of the feud). More importantly, he argues that the complete story of success, the real underlying story, is much more complex and surprising than anyone wants to believe.
What if none of our assumptions about success were true? What if all of them were true? What if success was a unique combination of luck, skill, talent, common sense, family connections, family history, determination, perseverance, and more? What if there was no one single factor? Are you ready for that?
Debt Is Slavery
Debt Is Slavery was a book that kicked me in the teeth. It is a powerful indictment of how society has come to view the use of debt to buy worthless consumables to satisfy an insatiable need to appear successful. But when you’re a slave to anything, how can you even remotely consider yourself successful?
Author Michael Mihalik did a fantastic job of connecting to me as a reader and he really nailed home a handful of few key points:
- Stop spending money needlessly on things that will become obsolete, things you really won’t use, things you really don’t need, and things that will never love you back.
- Avoid debt like the plague.
- Be frugal and make wise financial decisions.
- Take steps to implement extreme savings in your life.
- Ignore marketing’s siren call. Because the book is so short (88 pages), he is really blunt and to the point. This book doesn’t waste your time and at about $10 or $11 bucks, it doesn’t waste your money either.
17 Lies That Are Holding Your Back and the Truth That Sets You Free
17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free. This is a book that I personally found to be life-changing and it’s power lies in how it changes your perspective on what words I speak to myself. The book’s main purpose is to skewer the societal and personal lies that “hold people back.” What might be holding YOU back? The lies you tell yourself. All through the book, Chandler uses personal and anecdotal evidences to explaining the subtle life-denying power of these lies.
Chandler says that there are “white lies” we tell others to spare their feelings. There are public lies told by public figures. There are lies that we tell to make ourselves look better or get out of work.
Rich Like Them
In Rich Like Them: My Door to Door Search for the Secrets of Wealth in America’s Richest Neighborhoods, author Ryan D’Agostino decided the best way to learn how the richest people got that way was to simply ask. So, he did. Traveling through almost 2 dozen of the richest zip codes, he knocked on 500 doors and interviewed about 50 wealthy people, simply asking, “How did you get to live in a home like this?”
The diversity of responses was staggering, as were the variety of occupations and careers that these wealthy individuals had chosen. Roughly half of them rose through the corporate ranks, got tired of the corporate rigmarole, and struck out on their own to start their own business. His book outlines the responses of the rich to his questions and it is fascinating … and encouraging.
Secrets of Power Negotiating
Ready to stop being a doormat when it comes to the negotiation process? If so, then Secrets of Power Negotiating is for you.
Before reading this book, I was under the impression that negotiation was a process shrouded in mystique. I think that most people approach the negotiation process with a little fear because they worry they’ll be manipulated into making a decision they would not make under ordinary conditions. I now know that there is a specific sequence of events and that there are specific methods to get the other side to agree to your position.
I plan to move this article to the blue navigation bar and add to is as I read more. Check back often!