Ah, summer. Time to go away to the beach, the lake, or the mountains, with nothing to do but enjoy the cool breezes and read a stack of books. And while some of you will (probably sensibly) shy away from any reading that could possibly be called "Foolish" in favor of the latest potboilers from James Patterson or Danielle Steel, others, like me, will look for the kinds of books that teach us something useful, but without bogging our brains down so much that the reading feels like work.
Here, then, are some good choices for a Foolish summer travel bag. Each of these selections offers thought-provoking ideas and great advice in a pleasant, vacation-worthy style. In no particular order:
- The Little Book That Beats the Market, by Joel Greenblatt. An absolute must, even if you're a veteran professional portfolio manager. It's a brilliant, fun, so-easy-your-kids-will-get-it rebuttal to every "random walk" proponent who ever laid fingers to keyboard, as well as a presentation of a complete and ridiculously simple stock-selection strategy, written by one of the best hedge-fund managers in the business. As Fool Bill Mann wrote a while back, every Fool should have this one.
- Rule No. 1, by Phil Town. A mostly solid primer on value-investing basics, written by a very well caffeinated motivational speaker. But don't let that scare you -- the book captures the core of the Graham-Buffett approach to investing quite well, and it's an easy read.
- The Motley Fool Investment Guide, by Founding Fools David and Tom Gardner. Here you'll find the core of this site's approach to investing, presented in the Gardners' fun and funny style. If you like the Fool, you'll like the book.
The Dhandho Investor, by Mohnish Pabrai. A smart and cheerful Indian-flavored look at deep-value investing, written by a successful hedge-fund manager and a popular speaker at value investing conferences. Answers the question of why folks of Indian descent (specifically, Indian-Americans from Gujarat) own so many gas stations and motels. (Hint: they're basic businesses with predictable cash flows that can be very profitable if run well. Sound familiar?) His case studies of Arcelor Mittal
(NYSE:MT), Stewart Enterprises (NASDAQ:STEI), and Frontline (NYSE:FRO)are worth the price of the book by themselves.
- The Only Three Questions That Count, by Ken Fisher. This book is a bit denser than the others on this list, but I've included it in part because I think it's a better read when you're away from the office. Fisher, head of Fisher Investments and son of the late value-investing guru Philip Fisher, takes a hard-headed top-down approach to investment management that many Fools will find unusual and thought-provoking. His "three questions" are worthwhile tools for any investor, no matter their approach.
- The 4-Hour Workweek, by Timothy Ferriss. Not an investing book per se, more a challenge to rethink one's relationship to work and money and a complete guide to escaping the working mainstream. As I said when I reviewed the book, if you've ever dreamed of ditching the 9-to-5 routine -- or just want a little more time and money to chase a few more dreams -- I strongly recommend this one. It's fun and profound.
- Fooled by Randomness, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. A thoughtful, elegantly argued musing on the intersection of randomness and human thinking as applied to the investment markets. Taleb, a veteran trader and academic, makes his case with great skill and lively good humor. A joy to read, even if you don't agree with (or don't want to believe) his premise -- that randomness has more to do with stock market results than we'd like to think.
Want more fun, thought-provoking Foolish reading that will enhance your financial future? Check out the Fool's Rule Your Retirement newsletter service, where every month Robert Brokamp and his team offer a slew of great ideas and analysis to enhance your retirement planning. You can get yourself a free 30-day all-access pass, and be sure to check out Robert's extensive summer reading list for more great beach reading ideas.