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Our 2019 Book List for Investors

By Motley Fool Staff – Updated Apr 17, 2019 at 5:32PM

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Here’s a list of some new books and some classics investors should read.

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One of our beloved Industry Focus Twitter followers recently asked what books we suggest for investors.

In this clip from the show, Financials host Jason Moser and contributor Matt Frankel, CFP, give some of their old favorites, as well as some newer books they love.

A full transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Jan. 7, 2019.

Jason Moser: We had a tweet from @LeontheFixer. @LeontheFixer asks, "Were there any book recommendations that podcast guests gave in their 2018 wraps? I seem to remember them in past years but didn't seem to be any this year." He's wondering, do we have any book recommendations that we read through the year, or even earlier, something that we can throw out there for listeners. Folks, you're in luck. Matt and I both read a lot and we've got some pretty good recommendations coming at you. Matt, I'm going to let you kick it off. What kind of recommendations do you have for readers out there?

Matt Frankel: One personal finance book I just read was called Your Money or Your Life. I don't know if you're familiar with this one.

Moser: No.

Frankel: My wife and I both just finished reading this. In my opinion, it's the best book on personal finance I've ever read.

Moser: Oh, really? Wow!

Frankel: In terms of putting it into perspective, saving money, and how to get yourself in the mindset of a saver as opposed to a spender. So, if your New Year's resolution was to be smarter about how you're spending money and stuff like that, I definitely recommend giving that one a read.

Beyond that, I'd love to recommend some of the classics, I know this was on my last book list I did on this podcast a few years ago, but I have to reiterate Peter Lynch's books, especially One Up on Wall Street. We were just talking about Square. This is the one that got me to invest in Square and to find opportunities like that. The whole book is about using your advantages as a small investor over the big players like hedge funds, institutional investors, etc., by just using what you already know. The whole reason I invested with Square is because I was walking through farmers' markets in my area, a plumber came to my house with a Square card reader out of his pocket, and I just observed how this was becoming more and more of a trend, before I even knew what the company did or who it was. That's how I got them on my radar as an investment, and it's wound up being the best performing stock I've ever invested in. I bought it a few years ago at $11 and still own it today. Even after the recent correction, it's been a big winner. So that's called One Up on Wall Street. I actually have a copy of it right here.

Another of Peter Lynch's books that I like, it's lesser known, it's called Learn to Earn.

Moser: Oh, I remember that!

Frankel: It's a really good overview of the basics of investing. If you've ever tried to read a college finance textbook and find it's way over the head, this breaks everything down into real, simple English, in a really easy-to-understand way.

Beyond that, the two Benjamin Graham books are always great ones to read if you haven't read them already. The Intelligent Investor and Security Analysis. The way I would phrase it is, The Intelligent Investor is like going to college for investing, and Security Analysis is grad school. It's the step beyond, it teaches you how to dive into the numbers and things like that. The Intelligent Investor, they updated it a few years ago. Probably the best book on value investing ever written. It's Warren Buffett's favorite book, if that tells you anything.

Moser: I enjoyed reading that one. A lot of the principles that Ben Graham wrote about back then still hold today. Obviously, it's a little bit of a different world today, the way technology has changed the landscape out there. I never read Security Analysis. I felt like it was a bit more into the weeds than I was looking for at the time. But I have heard from a number of people that they benefited a lot from reading it, so maybe I should get in there and give it a read, as well.

I'm going to go in a little bit of a different direction. You gave a lot of big picture investing books. We've read most of them. I love Peter Lynch's take on things and can't recommend those enough. If you read One Up On Wall Street, read Beating the Street as well, and you've got Learn to Earn. Those are three great Peter Lynch books. Those lessons are timeless.

The best book that I read in 2018, and I'm going to thank one of our members and listeners, Greg Gajus, because he's the one who left me this book last time he was in town for one of our events. It's called The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, written by T.R. Reid. It's an easy read, but it's so informative. It gives you a look at the healthcare systems around the world. He essentially goes into all of these different places to try to find the strengths and the weaknesses of everybody's system. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. There is no one answer for our problems here domestically. It goes to show that it's not a simple solution. It's going to be difficult when you've got a lot of political sway going one way vs. the other.

For me, it all boils back down to, what is the goal of your healthcare system? Are you trying to make sure everybody gets healthcare? Or are you trying to achieve some other goal? And with most countries, the goal was very clearly, "Let's make sure everybody has healthcare." After reading the book, I don't feel as comfortable saying that our goal here is to give everybody healthcare. I think it's to give everybody healthcare with some conditions. And that makes it a bit more difficult.

I think that's a great book to give you a better idea of how healthcare is viewed around the world. You recognize that it's not a one-size-fits-all. It's certainly a tough problem to solve. I found myself highlighting passage after passage in that book. I keep on going back and looking at it again. Just a great read.

Another one, I read this a few years back. Citizen Coke by Bartow Elmore. This is a neat one because it talks about the history of Coca-Cola from the very beginning and how the business was built, how it changed, the parts of the value chain that made up the business. This goes into some neat areas of the business that a lot of people wouldn't maybe think of. Essentially every chapter is devoted to one facet of the business, whether it's the water or the bottling or the actual soda mix and talking about the economies that benefit from one vs. the other. That was a fun read.

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company. This one was written by Bryce Hoffman. This was published a number of years back. As the financial crisis hit, we saw all these automakers really struggling hard. Ford was the one that was able to stand above the rest. One of the reasons is, they brought in Alan Mulally. He had a strategy in mind. He had a vision in place. He led that company from a very difficult position into a position of success, and Ford has done very well since then. Obviously, the auto industry is a difficult one to begin with, but I think it it's a really neat story about Alan Mulally the guy, about what he did with Ford, about the other players in the space and the areas where they fell short.

I had the great fortune of actually interviewing Alan Mulally one year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Nice as it could be. It was a big thrill for me. One of the highlights of my life as an analyst. Getting to meet and talk with him was really cool. Reading this book, it resonated even more.

Those are three that, if you're looking for some good investing stories, those are great ones there. Hopefully, that will give @LeontheFixer and the rest of our listeners a fun list from which to choose here in 2019.

Jason Moser owns shares of Square and Twitter. Matthew Frankel, CFP owns shares of Square. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Square and Twitter. The Motley Fool has the following options: short January 2019 $80 calls on Square. The Motley Fool recommends Ford. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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