20 Inspirational Books Warren Buffett Recommends Reading

Warren Buffett Book Recommendations

For many reasons, self-made billionaire Warren Buffett and books simply go hand in hand. To begin with, he credits his becoming one of the richest humans on Earth to reading some 800 pages every day. Diving even deeper, he begins each morning by poring over several newspapers and estimates he spends as much as 80 percent of his waking hours reading.

“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think,” Buffett remarked in an interview with Time Magazine. “So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.”

It goes without saying, since an early age, devouring words has played a profound role in shaping Warren Buffett as a person, and furthermore, this favorite educational activity of his must have had something to do with the spirited – and profitable for that matter – approach he takes to life. Therefore, in order to get to the bottom of what inspired one of the world’s wealthiest men to the pinnacle of financial success, we’ve compiled a list of 20 books Warren Buffett has read himself and would certainly recommend to others as well.

We give you, 20 inspirational books that Warren Buffett recommends reading.

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham

warren buffett books

The greatest investment advisor of the twentieth century, Benjamin Graham, taught and inspired people worldwide. Graham’s philosophy of “value investing” – which shields investors from substantial error and teaches them to develop long-term strategies – has made The Intelligent Investor the stock market bible ever since its original publication in 1949.

Over the years, market developments have both proven the wisdom of Graham’s strategies and enshrined The Intelligent Investor as the most important book you will ever read on how to reach your financial goals.

Source: “I can’t remember what I paid for that first copy of ‘The Intelligent Investor,'” Buffett said in 2013. “Whatever the cost, it would underscore the truth of Ben’s adage: Price is what you pay, value is what you get. Of all the investments I ever made, buying Ben’s book was the best (except for my purchase of two marriage licenses).”

Buffett’s praise for Graham is no coincidence; Graham was Buffett’s professor at Columbia Business School in 1951.


How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie’s rock-solid, time-tested advice has carried countless people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. One of the most groundbreaking and timeless bestsellers of all time, How to Win Friends & Influence People will teach you:

  • Six ways to make people like you
  • Twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking
  • Nine ways to change people without arousing resentment

A must-read for the twenty-first century with more than 15 million copies sold!

Source: “In my office, you will not see the degree I have from the University of Nebraska, or the master’s degree I have from Columbia University, but you’ll see the certificate I got from the Dale Carnegie course,” Buffett points out.


Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger

Poor Charlie’s Almanack contains the wit and wisdom of Charlie Munger: his talks, lectures and public commentary. And, it has been written and compiled with both Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett’s encouragement and cooperation.

So pull up your favorite reading chair and enjoy the unique humor, wit, and insight that Charlie Munger brings to the world of business, investing, and life itself. His unique worldview, what he calls a ‘multidisciplinary’ approach, is a self-developed model for clear and simple thinking while being far from simplistic itself.

Throughout the book, using his encyclopedic knowledge, Munger cites references from classical orators to eighteenth and nineteenth-century European literati to pop culture.

Source: Regarding his dear friend and business partner’s bestseller among business books, Warren Buffett admits, this read “is something of a publishing miracle – never advertised, yet year after year selling many thousands of copies from its Internet site.”


One Thousand Ways to Make $1,000 by F.C. Minaker

First published in 1936, One Thousand Ways to Make $1,000 is the long out-of-print book that Warren Buffett’s biographer’s credit with shaping the legendary investor’s business acumen and giving him his trademark appreciation of compound interest.

After pulling a copy of One Thousand Ways off a library shelf at age eleven and devouring F.C. Minaker’s plucky and practical business advice, Buffett declared that he would be a millionaire by the time he was 35. Written in the immediate, conversational style of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, this book is full of inventive ideas on how to make money through excellent salesmanship, hard work, and resourcefulness.

While some of the ideas may seem quaint today – goat dairying, manufacturing motor-driven chairs, and renting out billiard tables to local establishments are among the money-making ideas presented – the underlying fundamentals of business explained in these pages remain as solid as they were over seventy years ago.

Source: “Very early, probably when I was seven or so, I took this book out of the Benson Library called ‘One Thousand Ways to Make $1,000,’” Buffett said in HBO’s 2017 documentary, Becoming Warren Buffett, adding that he virtually memorized it.

The Most Important Thing Illuminated by Howard Marks

Howard Marks, the chairman and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management, is renowned for his insightful assessments of market opportunity and risk. After four decades spent ascending to the top of the investment management profession, he is today sought out by the world’s leading value investors, and his client memos brim with invaluable commentary and a time-tested, fundamental philosophy. Now for the first time, all readers can benefit from Marks’s wisdom, concentrated into a single volume that speaks to both the amateur and seasoned investor.

Marks expounds on such concepts as “second-level thinking,” the price/value relationship, patient opportunism, and defensive investing. Frankly and honestly assessing his own decisions – and occasional missteps – he provides valuable lessons for critical thinking, risk assessment, and investment strategy.

Encouraging investors to be “contrarian,” Marks wisely judges market cycles and achieves returns through aggressive yet measured action. Which element is the most essential? Successful investing requires thoughtful attention to many separate aspects, and each of Marks’s subjects proves to be the most important thing.

Source: “When I see memos from Howard Marks in my mail, they’re the first thing I open and read. I always learn something, and that goes double for his book,” Buffett reveals.


The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John C. Bogle

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing is the classic guide to getting smart about the market. Legendary mutual fund pioneer John C. Bogle reveals his key to getting more out of investing: low-cost index funds. Bogle describes the simplest and most effective investment strategy for building wealth over the long term: buy and hold, at very low cost, a mutual fund that tracks a broad stock market Index such as the S&P 500.

A portfolio focused on index funds is the only investment that effectively guarantees your fair share of stock market returns and this book outlines a solid strategy for building your financial future:

  • Build a broadly diversified, low-cost portfolio without the risks of individual stocks, manager selection, or sector rotation.
  • Forget the fads and marketing hype, and focus on what works in the real world.
  • Understand that stock returns are generated by three sources (dividend yield, earnings growth, and change in market valuation) in order to establish rational expectations for stock returns over the coming decade.
  • Recognize that in the long run, business reality trumps market expectations.
  • Learn how to harness the magic of compounding returns while avoiding the tyranny of compounding costs.

Source: “If a statue is ever erected to honor the person who has done the most for American investors, the hands-down choice should be Jack Bogle,” Buffett explains. “For decades, Jack has urged investors to invest in ultra-low-cost index funds. Today, however, he has the satisfaction of knowing that he helped millions of investors realize far better returns on their savings than they otherwise would have earned. He is a hero to them and to me.”


The Outsiders by William N. Thorndike, Jr.

In this refreshing, counterintuitive book, author Will Thorndike brings to bear the analytical wisdom of a successful career in investing, closely evaluating the performance of companies and their leaders. You will meet eight individualistic CEOs whose firms’ average returns outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of twenty – in other words, an investment of $10,000 with each of these CEOs, on average, would have been worth over $1.5 million twenty-five years later.

You may not know all their names, but you will recognize their companies: General Cinema, Ralston Purina, The Washington Post Company, Berkshire Hathaway, General Dynamics, Capital Cities Broadcasting, TCI, and Teledyne. In The Outsiders, you’ll learn the traits and methods – striking for their consistency and relentless rationality – that helped these unique leaders achieve such exceptional performance.

Humble, unassuming, and often frugal, these “outsiders” shunned Wall Street and the press, and shied away from the hottest new management trends. Instead, they shared specific traits that put them and the companies they led on winning trajectories: a laser-sharp focus on per share value as opposed to earnings or sales growth; an exceptional talent for allocating capital and human resources; and the belief that cash flow, not reported earnings, determines a company’s long-term value.

Source: Referring to this read as “an outstanding book about CEOs who excelled at capital allocation,” this is one of the very few books Warren Buffett has listed #1 on a recommended reading list from his Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Letters.


Essays in Persuasion by John Maynard Keynes

John Maynard Keynes was without doubt one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century. His work revolutionized the theory and practice of modern economics. It has had a profound impact on the way economics is taught and written, and on economic policy, around the world.

In the light of subsequent history, Essays in Persuasion is a remarkably prophetic volume covering a wide range of issues in political economy. In articles on the Versailles Treaty, John Maynard Keynes foresaw all too clearly that excessive Allied demands for reparations and indemnities would lead to the economic collapse of Germany.

In Keynes’s essays on inflation and deflation, the reader can find ideas that were to become the foundations of his most renowned treatise, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. With startling accuracy, Keynes forecast the economic fluctuations that were to beset the economies of Europe and the United States and even proposed measures which, if heeded at the time, might have warded off an era of worldwide depression.

Source: Warren Buffett has deemed John Maynard Keynes “brilliant” as an economist and at stock picking. “Reading Keynes will make you smarter about securities and markets,” he told Outstanding Investor Digest in 1989. “I’m not sure reading most economists would do the same.”


Investing Between the Lines by L.J. Rittenhouse

Investing Between the Lines introduces a revolutionary method for evaluating the financial integrity of a company. You don’t need special access to “insider” information or a degree in accounting to figure it out. In fact, the secret is right in front of you – in black and white – in the words of every shareholder letter, annual report, and corporate correspondence you receive and this book will show you how to:

  • Decipher the “FOG” of confusing company communications
  • Decode the real meaning behind corporate jargon and platitudes
  • Separate the facts from the fluff in annual reports and quarterly earnings calls
  • Safeguard your money by investing in companies that steward investor capital

Too often, corporate executives and investment professionals are expected to deliver short-term results. As a result, they are compelled to turn to accounting techniques and unclear language to meet these expectations.

Source: This is one of the select books Warren Buffett included in his 2013 Shareholder Letter.


The Smartest Guys in the Room by Bethany McLean

Meticulously researched and character-driven, Smartest Guys in the Room takes the reader deep into Enron’s past – and behind the closed doors of private meetings. Drawing on a wide range of unique sources, the book follows Enron’s rise from obscurity to the top of the business world to its disastrous demise.

This is a story of greed, arrogance, and deceit – a microcosm of all that is wrong with American business today. Above all, it’s a fascinating human drama that will prove to be the authoritative account of the Enron scandal.

Source: Referring to the read as, “well-reported and well-written,” this is one of the few books Warren Buffett recommended in his 2003 Annual Shareholder Letter.


The Making of the President 1960 by Theodore H. White

The Making of the President: 1960 revolutionized the way modern presidential campaigns are reported. Reporting from within the campaign for the first time on record, White’s extensive research and access to all parties involved set the bar for campaign coverage and remains unparalleled.

White conveyed, in magnificent detail and with exquisite pacing, the high-stakes drama; he painted the unforgettable, even mythic, story of JFK versus Nixon; and most of all, he imbued the nation’s presidential election process with a grandeur that later political writers have rarely matched.

Source: “I love reading good political books, starting with [this book],” Buffett told Politico in an interview.

Limping on Water by Phil Beuth

Phil Beuth spent his entire broadcasting career with one company. As the first employee of a fledgling media startup in 1955, Phil worked his way up over a 40-year span, as Capital Cities grew to become one of America’s most influential and successful media companies. Limping on Water is a Dickensian rags-to-riches tale of a disadvantaged boy, born with cerebral palsy who, through luck, pluck, strength of character, skill, persistence, and loyalty, rose to become a top executive at one of America’s most respected and successful media companies, Capital Cities Communications.

Beuth’s story is a keen insider’s chronicle of that “Mad Men” golden era of television; a time when broadcasting as we know it came into being. It is also a powerful lesson in forging a career that is ethical and prosperous; “doing well and doing good.”

Source: “Much of what you become in life depends on whom you choose to admire and copy. Start with Tom Murphy [CEO of Capital Cities Communications], and you’ll never need a second exemplar,” Buffett stated in his 2015 letter to shareholders.


The Science of Hitting by Ted Williams

Ted Williams was arguably the greatest pure hitter who ever lived. A lifelong student of hitting, he sought advice from every great hitter – and pitcher – he met. Drawing on that athletic wisdom, as well as his own legendary life in baseball, Williams produced the all-time batting classic, The Science of Hitting. Using its detailed illustrations, anecdotes, and concise coaching, players of all skill levels can learn how to improve their fundamentals and gain keen insights into the finer points of hitting.

Source: “[Williams] said the most important thing in hitting is waiting for the right pitch,” Buffett has retorted.


Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Young, searching, fresh out of business school, Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling the shoes from the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant, Knight grossed eight thousand dollars that first year, 1963. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. In this age of start-ups, Knight’s Nike is the gold standard, and its swoosh is more than a logo. A symbol of grace and greatness, it’s one of the few icons instantly recognized in every corner of the world.

But Knight, the man behind the swoosh, has always been a mystery. Now, in a memoir that’s surprising, humble, unfiltered, funny, and beautifully crafted, he tells his story at last. It all begins with a classic crossroads moment. Twenty-four years old, backpacking through Asia and Europe and Africa, wrestling with life’s Great Questions, Knight decides the unconventional path is the only one for him.

Rather than work for a big corporation, he will create something all his own, something new, dynamic, different. Knight details the many terrifying risks he encountered along the way, the crushing setbacks, the ruthless competitors, the countless doubters and haters and hostile bankers – as well as his many thrilling triumphs and narrow escapes.

Source: “‘The best book I read last year. Phil is…a gifted storyteller,” Buffett said in 2016.


The Farmer From Merna by Karl Schriftgiesser

A difficult copy to come by among books Warren Buffett recommends reading, this is the biography of George J. Mecherle, an Illinois farmer who conceived of a plan to bring low-cost honest auto insurance to the farming people of his home state. It tells of his struggle to get the business established and the growth of his venture.

Source: “By 1999 [State Farm] had amassed a tangible net worth exceeding that of all but four American businesses. If you want to read how this happened, get a copy of [this book],” Buffett wrote in 2000.


A Few Lessons For Investors and Managers From Warren Buffett

Peter Bevelin begins A Few Lessons for Investors and Managers with Warren Buffett’s wisdom, “I am a better investor because I am a businessman and a better businessman because I am an investor.”

This book is about how managers and investors can increase their chance of success and reduce the chance of harm if managers think more like investors and investors more like businessmen. There are a lot of books about Warren Buffett, but this one is different as it discusses in a short-easy-to-read way what managers and investors can learn from Buffett.

This is a selection of useful and timeless wisdom where Warren Buffett in his own words tells us how to think about business valuation, what is a good and bad business, acquisitions and their traps, yardsticks, compensation issues, how to reduce risk, corporate governance, the importance of trust and the right culture, learning from mistakes, and more.

Source: “Sums up what Charlie [Munger] and I have been saying over the years in annual reports and at annual meetings,” Buffett says.


Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits by Philip A. Fisher

Widely respected and admired, Philip Fisher is among the most influential investors of all time. His investment philosophies, introduced almost forty years ago, are not only studied and applied by today’s financiers and investors, but are also regarded by many as gospel. This book is invaluable reading and has been since it was first published in 1958.

Source: “I sought out Phil Fisher after reading his Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits…A thorough understanding of the business, obtained by using Phil’s techniques…enables one to make intelligent investment commitments,” Buffett believes.

Where Are the Customers’ Yachts? by Fred Schwed

Humorous and entertaining, this book exposes the folly and hypocrisy of Wall Street. The title refers to a story about a visitor to New York who admired the yachts of the bankers and brokers. Naively, he asked where all the customers’ yachts were? Of course, none of the customers could afford yachts, even though they dutifully followed the advice of their bankers and brokers.

Full of wise contrarian advice and offering a true look at the world of investing, in which brokers get rich while their customers go broke, this book continues to open the eyes of investors to the reality of Wall Street.

Source: Buffett calls this, “the funniest book ever written about investing.”

Security Analysis by Benjamin Graham

First published in 1934, Security Analysis is one of the most influential financial books ever written. Selling more than one million copies through five editions, it has provided generations of investors with the timeless value investing philosophy and techniques of Benjamin Graham and David L. Dodd.

As relevant today as when they first appeared nearly 75 years ago, the teachings of Benjamin Graham, “the father of value investing,” have withstood the test of time across a wide diversity of market conditions, countries, and asset classes.

Source: Referring to this as, “a road map for investing that I have now been following for 57 years,” this is one of those rare books Warren Buffett has read at least four times.


Business Adventures by John Brooks

What do the $350 million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel, the fast and incredible rise of Xerox, and the unbelievable scandals at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur have in common? Each is an example of how an iconic company was defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety; these notable and fascinating accounts are as relevant today to understanding the intricacies of corporate life as they were when the events happened.

Stories about Wall Street are infused with drama and adventure and reveal the machinations and volatile nature of the world of finance, this could be why this is a dear favorite among business books Warren Buffett recommends reading. Longtime New Yorker contributor John Brooks’s insightful reportage is so full of personality and critical detail that whether he is looking at the astounding market crash of 1962, the collapse of a well-known brokerage firm, or the bold attempt by American bankers to save the British pound, one gets the sense that history repeats itself.

Source: Not long after Bill Gates first met Warren Buffett back in 1991, he asked him to recommend his favorite book about business. Buffett didn’t miss a beat: “It’s Business Adventures, by John Brooks,” he said. “I’ll send you my copy.”


 

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