Each fortnight on my podcast, The Rules of Investing, I ask my guest whether they’ve read, watched, or listened to anything recently that they really enjoyed, or which impressed them.
My guests have ranged from lesser-known hedge fund managers through to people responsible for tens of billions of dollars and include some prominent industry experts. Their responses, like the guests themselves, have been diverse and include fiction and non-fiction books, TV series, reports, and of course Warren Buffett’s ever-popular letters to investors.
The holiday season brings some extra spare time for most people, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to look back through the responses from the year and put them all in one place for your easy consumption.
Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami
The lone fiction novel in the list, while this fantasy cult classic comes from a Japanese author, it’s easy reading for a Western audience as Murakami’s writing is influenced by Western authors. This one’s on my own personal reading list this holiday season.
“It’s just got everything in it, it’s got cats that talk, a lot of magic realism, a lot of mystery, and a bit of humour.”
How streaming saved the music industry, by Sam Wolfson
Everyone loves a good turnaround story, and the biggest turnaround in the world today is the one in the music industry. After nearly two decades of decline, the industry appears to have turned a corner in recent years due to the rise in popularity of streaming services. This in-depth article in The Guardian dives deep into the issues, including the cause of the decline, how the industry responded, and how it finally began to turnaround.
Buffett’s letters to shareholders, by Warren Buffett
Essential reading for any investor, experienced or new. Thankfully Berkshire Hathaway provides a free archive of all the letters going back to 1977. Watch this space too, because the 2019 edition (he always writes retrospectively for the year just passed) is due out in the next month or two.
The Future is Faster Than You Think, by Peter Diamandis
In this presentation from futurist, Peter Diamandis, he makes the point that the pace of change is accelerating (i.e. the acceleration is accelerating) in the world today in ways that most struggle to fully fathom. He says there are seven key areas, including computational abundance, capital abundance, and increasing lifespan, that will change the way humans live today.
Simon Holmes à Court
Integrated System Plan, by the Australia Energy Market Operator (AEMO)
It might be "boring and geeky", as admitted by Simon himself, but this report contains some fascinating and surprising information. The report shows that in the absence of any new federal policy on the issue, almost all investment in new energy generation will be in renewables from here - simply because they're cheaper. Surprisingly, the report shows that limited storage would be required before 2030.
The little book of value investing, by Christopher Browne
Part of the "Little book of..." series, long-time value investor, Christopher Browne, breaks down the principles of Graham and Buffett into an easy to read format. Of course, a book this length can't cover every topic in detail, but it's a great primer for those wanting to learn the basics of value investing.
Winning on Wall Street, by Martin Zweig
While Martin Zweig is hardly a household name in Australia today, this academic turned newsletter writer turned fund manager is a legend on Wall Street. At one point he lived in the most expensive home in America. This book lays out his strategy for investing in growth companies while using a model to time the market.
One up on Wall Street, by Peter Lynch
As regular listeners to the podcast may be aware, this book is one of my all time favourite investing books. Lynch's Fidelity Magellan Fund returned an average of 29.2% p.a. between 1977 and 1990, but despite this, he reckons it's easier for the average person to make money investing in stocks than it is for a Wall Street fund manager. He lays out a handful of simple tools and a sensible approach to help average people be great investors.
Walt, the man behind the myth (TV Episode)
Disney wasn't always the entertainment juggernaut that it is today. This documentary looks at the creation and early days of Disney and how it got to where it is now. I haven't come across the show since Charlie mentioned it on the podcast, but with Disney+ now available locally it might be a bit easier to find.
"It was just excellent, it went through his whole background his brother. The risks they took, the vision they had, how the got the financing, and the success that Disney is today."
Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, by Philip Tetlock
People are generally very bad at forecasting. Even experts in a field are bad at making predictions within their own field (as anyone who's followed economics for any time could tell you). But some people are unusually good at predicting the future, and they have some traits in common, which are explored in this book.
Fully automated, luxury communism, by Aaron Bastani
Another article recommendation and this one was a bit of a surprise. Chris was careful to point out that he doesn't agree that we should throw capitalism away. However, he did say it was a thought-provoking read looking at why we may not need to be so scared of automation.
The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, by Alice Schroeder
While Buffett has repeatedly said that he'd never write an autobiography, this is probably the closest thing you'll get to one. Most books about Buffett focus on his investing, but this one takes a broader look at his life and his family. It's a big read, but well worth it for a 'behind the scenes' look at the great investor.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, by Michael Lewis
A Michael Lewis classic that's since been turned into a major film starring Brad Pitt. Oakland Athletics famously punched well above their weight under General Manager Billy Beane, and this book looks at the unusual strategies that allowed them to do so. Whether you're a sports fan or an investor, this book has plenty of valuable lessons (and it's a great story).
Elon Musk, by Ashlee Vance
Paypal, Tesla, SpaceX... Is there anything Musk can't do? While he's become a figure of increasing controversy in recent years, in particular since the '$420 funding secured' Tweet, his incredible success across multiple industries is unique in today's world. Tech reporter, Ashlee Vance followed Musk for a full twelve months in order to write this personal account of the man.
Buffett’s letters to shareholders, by Warren Buffett
Another tip for Buffett's famous letters. Maybe it's worth reading them again?
Margin of Safety, by Seth Klarman
If you can get your hands on a genuine copy of this book, consider yourself lucky. The book was only printed in a very limited run back when nobody knew who Seth Klarman was. Copies sell for many thousands of dollars now, but of course with prices like these, come forgeries.
The Barefoot Investor, by Scott Pape
It's worth mentioning that this question was framed in reference to a brand new investor. While the average Livewire reader may not be the intended audience for Scott Pape's famous book, there's no denying that the book does a great job at teaching good financial habits to ordinary people.
The Big Short, by Michael Lewis
This is probably the most well known book in finance today, thanks to the Hollywood adaptation starring Christian Bale and Steve Carell, but if you've only seen the film, you're missing out. Michael Lewis is one of the most talented writers in investing and finance, and he's writing about the most important financial event of the last 15 years, what's not to like?
What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence, by Stephen A. Schwarzman
Stephen Schwarzman helped found one of the largest and most successful funds management businesses in the world, Blackstone, and he still leads the business today. As you could guess, he's met a fair few interesting people in that time (which he'll remind you of repeatedly in this book), many of whom he discusses in this book.
Bill Gates is famous for his central role at Microsoft and how it's made him one of the world's richest men, but there's a lot more to him than that. Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he's helped fight malaria and improve sanitation in the developing world. But for my guest Kate Howitt, the highlight of this series was learning how Gates had helped develop a passively safe nuclear reactor that runs on old nuclear waste. Unfortunately the trade war put a stop to a planned test reactor in China.
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Thanks Patrick. This list might come in handy for those looking to buy Christmas pressies over the next few days, I suspect.
hope you found something that interests you Patrick! Thanks for being a great supporter this year (and prior years).
Thanks Patrick. Just the list I’ve been looking for. Happy Christmas.