Summer Reads for Success

Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it. – Warren Buffett

Successful people read. A lot. With that in mind, here’s what I’ve been reading and loving. I hope you do too.

The Vital Subject They Never Teach In School: Money

The Richest Man in Babylon – This is a classic guide for personal finance, told through entertaining and easy to understand parables. Money works for me now. I don’t work for it.

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! – A bit cheesy, but also timeless. Make this one of your first reads as you think about money.

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy – The second book I ever read on personal finance. The author conducts a survey of hundreds of millionaires to determine what behavioral and business patterns they display. Guess how most of them got rich? Hint: Not the stock market.

Handling People and Work

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich – I’m a little bit cynical about Tim Ferris, but this is definitely a motivating read if you want to break out of the 9-5 grind.

How to Win Friends & Influence People – A classic. I’m pretty bad about having amicable discussions with coworkers/bosses, but this book has helped quite a bit.

Conscious Capitalism, With a New Preface by the Authors: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business – The founder of Whole Foods understands people, and how to get them to work together. A lot of what he talks about reminded me of the best company I ever worked for.

Investment Methods

Deep Value: Why Activist Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations (Wiley Finance) – Tobias Carlisle writes about activist investors in an entertaining and educational way. This has been my favorite investment read in a long time.

Fooling Some of the People All of the Time, A Long Short (and Now Complete) Story, Updated with New Epilogue – The best written account of a short-seller campaign in our lifetime.

You Can Be a Stock Market Genius: Uncover the Secret Hiding Places of Stock Market Profits – I was late to read this book because of the cheesy title, but it is excellent. Greenblatt talks quite a bit about the benefits of playing market dynamics against themselves, and his record of returns is pretty amazing.

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator – I am about 75% of the way through this amazingly entertaining tale of a trader from the 19th Century. Jesse Livermore traded his own money, and developed a system which made him millions. This is a must-read for anyone interested in trading or investing. It is both a cautionary tale of what happens when you do not stick with your own system, and an inspirational story of betting and winning big several times.

Understanding Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Jihadism for the Professional Spy

Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 – There aren’t many good accounts of “my” war. Marcus Luttrell has been to hell and back, and lived to tell the tale. I don’t completely agree with his portrayal of the Taliban as bloodthirsty savages, but the sheer will to win (by both sides) is certainly on display in his account of one of the notable firefights of Operation Enduring Freedom. It also highlights what we have been doing wrong: sending in hit teams to assassinate people at night is not effective COIN.

War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History – David Petraeus popularized COIN (Counter-Insurgency) in our time, but the guerrilla has been around for centuries. This massive tome by Robert Asprey painstakingly records and examines most of the major insurgencies and counter-insurgencies throughout history. This book is not for the faint of heart, but it does a fantastic job of noting what has worked and what has not since the dawn of time, wrapping up with a lengthy analysis of Vietnam. If you want a single book to understand how to win against insurgencies this is it.

Afghan Guerilla Warfare: In the Words of the Mujahideen Fighters – If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of Afghan tactics, these vignettes from the Soviet Invasion are still relevant today.

The Confrontation: Winning the War against Future Jihad – Walid Phares lays out the religious and economic factors which fuel jihadist attacks in the West, most recently the van and stabbing attacks this week in London which sent 48 people to the hospital. If like many Westerners you STILL don’t fully understand why these attacks have occurred (and will continue to) here is a great primer.


Fiction for Fun

American Gods: A Novel – Just fantastically well-written and hard to put down. An entertaining story for anyone even mildly intrigued by mythology.

A Fine and Pleasant Misery – Any fan of the outdoors will quickly find themselves chuckling at the ludicrous yet relatable stories told by McManus. Good for a summer trip.

Cryptonomicon – I lobbied hard to name one of our daughters “America” because of this book. Keen wouldn’t let me.


Author: secondhandstocks

The genesis for this blog stems from a Marine buddy and I came back from Afghanistan with more money than knowledge, and heedlessly tossed our hats into the stock market ring. A few months later, I remember discovering the classic book The Intelligent Investor by Graham and Dodd, and ravenously devouring my first introduction to value investing. That framework - with some generous additions by Seth Klarman, and Joel Greenblatt among others - guides my investment philosophy. I spent five years working in the intelligence field, both in the Marine Corps and then for a government agency after that. I speak Arabic and Pashto, have programming and analysis experience, and enjoy investing in technology companies as a hobby. I also spent a year on Wall Street working on a #1 Ranked Institutional Investor team, before deciding that that the Sell-Side was not for me.

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