At the Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK.A)(NYSE:BRK.B), a shareholder asked Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger which 10 books they've read that have influenced them the most that weren't written by Ben Graham or Phil Fisher. Buffett, being the maverick that he is, had to buck the rules and pointed out just how much Graham's The Intelligent Investor meant to him as an investor, saying:
The Intelligent Investor changed my life.
That's a strong sales pitch. Buffett continued:
Graham's book gave me a bedrock philosophy on investing that made sense... he taught me how to think about a stock and how to think about a stock market.
To be sure, the quality of Graham's classic probably can't be trumpeted enough. But it's also a bit ho-hum for most avid Berkshire shareholders and Buffett fans. Buffett's love of that particular book is very well known.
What I found more interesting, however, was Munger's answer to the question. Munger said:
I can't name 10 books that I regarded as that much better than the next 10... My mind is a blend of so many books that I can't even sort it out anymore.
This echoes a Munger quote that my fellow Fool Jason Moser offered up earlier this week:
In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn't read all the time -- none, zero. You'd be amazed at how much Warren [Buffett] reads -- at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out.
The message from Munger is clear. There are great investing books out there that no serious investor should miss. The short list certainly includes The Intelligent Investor. It probably also includes Graham's Security Analysis and Phil Fisher's Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits. But there's no "secret" book or list of books that will suddenly make an investor the next Warren Buffett (or Charlie Munger!). The secret sauce, instead, is being a voracious reader and a lifetime learner.