Weekend Reads: The Favorite Books Edition
“Increasingly, we’re filling our heads with soundbites, the mental equivalent of junk. Over a day or even a week, the changes, like those to our belly, are barely noticeable. However, if we extend the timeline to months and years, we face a worrying reality and may find ourselves looking down at the pot-belly of ignorance.” — Shane Parrish, “The Pot-Belly of Ignorance,” Medium
What is it that we pour into our heads? What are we reading, where do we find it, and how thoroughly do we consume it? Shane Parrish’s provocative article caused me to stop and seriously consider what I mentally ingest.
“I am an avid reader,” I have proudly contended many times, with my head held high and my shoulders back. I point to the books I routinely carry around with me, in my car or in my bag, that I can easily wile away an hour or more in book stores and libraries. I also have a lengthy inventory of favorite websites that I peruse on a routine basis. I pride myself on knowing books, blogs, and authors — kind of an occupational hazard, but one I delightfully accept.
However, what exactly am I reading?
Now that my level of awareness has been raised, with my shoulders slumping I admit that I am easily enticed by the wild headlines and absurd promises found on the web — the dreaded clickbait Parrish refers to as junk.
More times than I can remember, I have clicked on a link, skimmed the article, and come away not having a clue as to what I just read. My brain being the wiser, “determined it was trash and subsequently got rid of it rather than storing it.”
No longer wanting to succumb to a brain full of garbage, I resolved to straighten up and follow Parrish’s advice “to learn from people with a deep, accurate fluency in their area of expertise.”
I decided to enlist the assistance of a few fellow Enterprising Investor authors and readers for their recommendations. And while these selections may not exactly make for a quick “weekend read,” so to speak, the variety is such that you and I will be able to fill many “palatable” weekends and nip any potential pot-bellies in the bud.
I asked for two recommendations: best business book and, because I am a nosy sort, favorite book of any genre. In no particular order, here are the selections, with any additional commentary provided:
Favorite Business Books
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. “It is very old but the message is excellent. Come up with an idea and keep thinking about it until it happens!” Recommended by Barbara Stewart, CFA.
- Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin, and Robert Cialdini. Recommended by Wesley Gray, PhD.
- The Origin of Wealth by Eric D. Beinhocker. “Fascinating insights into the world of complex dynamic systems that will give you a new perspective on how the economy and financial markets work.” Also Your Money and Your Brain by Jason Zweig. “Still the best neuroeconomics and behavioral finance book ever written in my view.” Both recommended by Joachim Klement, CFA.
- Winning the Loser’s Game by Charles Ellis, CFA. “Helps you understand whether you are playing against pros or amateurs, and how to adapt accordingly.” Recommended by Robert J. Martorana, CFA.
- Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. “A reference anytime I am confused about my business.” And The Little Book That Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt. Both recommended by Hansi Mehrotra, CFA.
- Linchpin by Seth Godin. Recommended by Nathan Jaye, CFA.
- Good to Great by Jim Collins. “Provides a simple logical framework to understand what really makes a successful company — successful teams.” Recommended Scott Krisiloff, CFA.
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Recommended by Dougal Williams, CFA.
- The Money Game by Adam Smith. “This is a really difficult question to answer, but if I had to pick one, [this is] my answer. Recommended by Michael Batnick, CFA.
- Bulldog: Spirit of the New Entrepreneur by Ellie Rubin. Recommended by Anjali Pradhan, CFA.
Favorite Books in Any Genre
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. “It is a classic of course, but what it really helped me with was differentiating between different types of romantic love. It was incredibly thought-provoking for me on this topic.” Recommended by Barbara Stewart, CFA.
- This has got to be my favorite response: Three Billy Goats Gruff by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe. “My parents used to read it to me and I read it to my kids all the time” Recommended by Wesley Gray, PhD.
- The Revolt of the Masses by José Ortega y Gasset. “A little known Spanish philosopher who wrote this analysis of populism in , predicted the rise of communism and fascism as well as their self-destruction and replacement by the democracy of the USA. Incredibly insightful and still relevant in the light of modern day populist tendencies in Europe and the US.” Recommended by Joachim Klement, CFA.
- King James Bible. “Three thousand years of ethical wisdom and literary genius.” Also The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. “Helps you understand motives and human nature.” Both recommended by Robert J. Martorana, CFA.
- The Art of Happiness by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, MD. “I changed my outlook after reading the first couple of chapters. . . . I remember it being a turning point.” Recommended by Hansi Mehrotra, CFA.
- Arthur Rimbaud: Collected Poems, translated by Oliver Bernard. Recommended by Nathan Jaye, CFA.
- The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: “A short parable that reminds all of us to search for our purpose in life and to pursue it through all of life’s challenges.” Recommended by Scott Krisiloff, CFA.
- King of the World by David Remnick; Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight; Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi; and Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing. A four-way tie: all recommended by Dougal Williams, CFA.
- Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow. “This one is impossible to answer — it’s like picking your favorite song or movie. Making this easy on myself, I love non-fiction, particularly biographies. Ron Chernow is one of my favorite authors and his Washington: A Life was an absolute masterpiece.” Recommended by Michael Batnick, CFA.
- Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming by Paul Hawken. Recommended by Anjali Pradhan, CFA.
If you liked this post, don’t forget to subscribe to the Enterprising Investor.
All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.
Image credit: ©Getty Images/olaser