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The Best Books I Read This Year

By Morgan Housel – Dec 15, 2014 at 12:16PM

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My top recommendations.

Looking for a great book to read over the holidays?  Here are 10 good ones about investing, business, and economics that I read this year. 

Empty Mansions by Paul Newell. It's the true story of a lady who inherited hundreds of millions of dollars and chose to live a life of compete seclusion, spending the last two decades of her life voluntarily checked into a hospital even though she was healthy. Fascinating. 

The Frackers by Greg Zuckerman. It's the story about how American oil production has nearly doubled in the last five years.

Risk Savvy by Gerd Gigerenzer. It's about how humans are bad at interpreting statistics and how that causes us to make bad decisions.

This Will Make You Smarter by John Brockman. It's a long collection of short (one-page) essays by some of the smartest people in the world who were asked the question, "What Scientific Concept Would Improve Everybody's Cognitive Toolkit?" You won't put it down. 

Scarcity: Why Having So Little Means So much by Sendhil Mullainathan. It's about the science of how we deal with scarcity, including how we become smarter and more efficient when we're running out of whatever we need. This changed how I think about stressors in life. 

Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Portnoy. This is the best book I've read on the most important investing skill that exists: your ability to wait. 

The Great Depression, A Diary by Benjamin Roth. Roth was a lawyer during the Great Depression, and kept a detailed diary about what life was like in America was like during the chaotic 1930s. His son published it in 2010, and it is the single best economics book I think I've ever read. 

Stumbling Giant: The Threat To China's Future by Tim Beardson. The consensus is that China will dominate the 21st century. This is the best book I've read making the counterargument, from pollution to demographics to corruption. 

The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life Joseph Kennedy by David Nasaw. If Joseph Kennedy's son never became president he'd still be one of the most fascinating businessmen of the 20th century. This is an amazing biography. 

Everything is Bullshit: The Greatest Scams on Earth by Pricenomics. It's collection of stories about how everything from diamond pricing to wine ratings to taxi medallions are, well, bullshit -- or at least manipulated by silly laws and unfair cartels. 

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson. Yeah, it's about shipping containers, possibly the most boring topic you can think of. But trust me, those big metal boxes changed the global economy more than almost anything over the last 50 years. This is an incredible story of how. 

More from The Motley Fool: Our retirement experts explain a straightforward way to increase retirement income. 


Contact Morgan Housel at [email protected] The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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