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Investing Specialists

A Reading List for the Dog Days of Summer

Morningstar readers offer their investment book picks.

The dog days of summer demand taking time out to enjoy a good book. (Interesting fact: Though "dog days" calls to mind panting dogs lying lazily in the sun, the phrase derives from Sirius, the dog star, which appeared to Greeks and Romans to rise before the sun in late July and August.) 

We asked Morningstar readers which investing or financial books they're reading during these sultry days. We also asked for recommendations for books that have changed the way they invest and helped them on their road to financial success.

We collected a robust list of book recommendations. We provided a link to each book on Amazon.com in case you are interested in reading the reviews and a more in-depth summary; however, many of these books are of course available from your local library.

We didn't list all the recommendations, but if you are interested in the full thread and want to weigh in, click here. The following is a summary of the responses.

"It's been just too hot to do much gardening and so under a sweet gum tree this past week, I read Alexander Hamilton's Report on the Subject of Manufactures," said rumples. "First published in 1791, it is still relevant today covering government subsidies, trade, technology, immigration, and so forth."

The Bond Book, by Annette Thau, was recommended by FD1000, mlott1, and dawgie for investors looking for a comprehensive and straightforward primer on bond investing. 

"For a good general introduction to economics I would recommend Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell or Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt," said retiredgary

Atomiccab is reading Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation by Edward Chancellor. "It is considered a classic," this reader said.

Retiredgary also recommends Harry Browne's Why the Best-Laid Investment Plans Usually Go Wrong. "Some of the concrete suggestions are outdated, and one can disagree with some of his recommendations, but the book does a splendid job of driving home the key lessons that the future is unpredictable not just by you but by the experts as well and that diversification is a good thing. It is also amusing and fun to read," this reader said.

Mlott1 says Jason Zweig's Devil's Dictionary of Wall Street is a "pithy and informative read". This reader also recently finished Capital Without Borders: Wealth Managers and the One Percent by Brooke Harrington, and hopes to read Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business before the summer is over. 

Nantucket9, who is currently reading Navigate the Noise: Investing in the Age of Media and Hype by Richard Bernstein, also recommends The Billion Dollar Spy: A True Story of Cold War Espionage and Betrayal. "One of best books I ever read. Real life spy story reads like a great novel."

A few mentioned that Finance for Normal People: How Investors and Markets Behave by Mier Statman was on their list. "I want to see if behavioral finance makes more sense to me than [modern portfolio theory], said jjdenver. Atomiccab, meanwhile, recommends the book to readers who "are interested in the psychological aspects of investing."

Rforno said, "I read The Tao of Charlie Munger: A Compilation of Quotes from Berkshire Hathaway's Vice Chairman on Life, Business, and the Pursuit of Wealth recently ... [it] didn't really provide any new insights but was a nice, conversational reinforcement of many ways that I approach the markets and life."

Margaret recommends The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson, as well as Isaacson's book on Steve Jobs. "I moved to Silicon Valley in the '60s and worked for and invested in some of the companies mentioned. I am always looking for insights into the tech companies I live among," this reader said.

RBH2006 is reading the new edition of Winning the Loser's Game: Timeless Strategies for Successful Investing by Charles Ellis, as well as rereading The Big Short by Michael Lewis. Readers mlott1 and Brantley agreed, "You can't go wrong reading anything by Michael Lewis."

The Charles Ellis book Capital: The Story of Long-Term Investment Excellence was also mentioned; a few respondents noted that it struck them as interesting that Ellis, a longtime proponent of index investing, wrote this well-known book on the parent company of active fund shop American Funds. 

The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the secret to Investing Success by Daniel Crosby was recommended by ctyankee. "What Crosby does is consolidate the investing traps that we all fall into and explain them well, as well as explaining what does work and why … . Well worth a read," ctyankee said.

Finally, Naperville mentioned What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars by Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan. "People think they know what they are doing until it all blows up," Naperville said. This book "provides some lessons to avoid pitfalls," this reader said.