Warren Buffett is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, one of the world’s richest people, and perhaps the best investor of all time. What’s his secret? Reading.
Some top books on Warren Buffett’s reading list include The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and Poor Charlie’s Almanack, edited by Peter D. Kaufman.
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If you want to be smarter and more successful, it’d be in your best interest to take advice from American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist, Warren Buffett.
In the early days of Buffett’s career, he’d read 600 to 1000 pages a day. He’s even been known to spend 80% of his day reading. Buffett says you should go to bed a little smarter each day. And as he says about reading: ‘All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.’
Buffett has called out many book titles on various occasions, during talks, meetings, annual conferences, and annual shareholder letters. To save you time, we have compiled a full list of the best books that the prolific reader has mentioned this past decade.
Here are the top 15 books on Warren Buffett’s reading list.
1. The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
Buffett credits this book with changing how he looked at the stock market. ‘Picking up that book was one of the luckiest moments in my life,’ he said.
The Intelligent Investor shares everything Benjamin Graham knows. He was an investor who became successful after the financial crash of 1929. The book shares how investors should evaluate companies, the three principles of intelligent investing, and how to diversify your portfolio.
‘In my early days, I, too, rejoiced when the market rose. Then I read chapter eight of Ben Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, which deals with how investors should view fluctuations in stock prices,’ Buffett wrote in his 2011 letter. ‘Immediately, the scales fell from my eyes, and low prices became my friend. Picking up that book was one of the luckiest moments in my life.’
2. Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger, edited by Peter D. Kaufman
Charlie Munger, Buffett’s partner and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, has no shortage of wisdom, captured in Poor Charlie’s Almanack through Munger’s speeches, stories, lessons, and writings.
Edited by Peter Kaufman, this work is an encyclopedia of information on what it takes to succeed and achieve greatness. Buffett has been known to recommend this book at nearly every annual shareholder’s meeting. It is recommended to readers who enjoy Buffett’s unique sense of humor, wit, and insights.
In a 2010 shareholder letter, Buffett joked, ‘buy a copy and carry it around; it will make you look urbane and erudite.’
3. Warren Buffett’s Ground Rules: Words of Wisdom From the Partnership Letters of the World’s Greatest Investor by Jeremy C. Miller
Author and financial adviser Jeremy C. Miller expertly researched and extracted the best of Warren Buffett’s investing ‘ground rules’ from letters Buffett wrote to his partners between 1956 and 1970.
Buffett praised Warren Buffett’s Ground Rules in his 2015 annual letter, stating, ‘Mr. Miller has done a superb job researching and dissecting Buffett Partnership Ltd.’s operation and explaining how Berkshire’s culture has evolved from its BPL origin…If you are fascinated by investment theory and practice, you will enjoy this book.’
4. Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings by Philip A. Fisher
Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits is a book for readers working in investment or anyone looking to improve their investment strategy. Fisher shares practical tips like how to determine if a company’s stock is overvalued, how to find the right time to buy, and where to get little-known information about companies when doing research.
Readers can also learn the different types of investors — conservative and high-risk — and which one they are.
Buffett was impressed with Fisher’s book stating that he ‘... sought out Phil Fisher after reading his Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits. I was impressed by the man and his ideas when I met him. A thorough understanding of the business, obtained using Phil’s techniques, enables one to make intelligent investment commitments.’
5. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Dale Carnegie’s time-tested advice has been cited in carrying countless people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives. How to Win Friends and Influence People is a handbook for navigating relationships. You can learn to avoid arguments, get people to agree, motivate others, and make sales.
Carnegie outlines six ways to make people like you, twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and nine ways to change people without arousing resentment.
In the HBO documentary Becoming Warren Buffett, Buffett admits that Carnegie’s ideas helped him overcome his fear of public speaking and regularly recommends the book.
‘In my office, you will not see the degree I got from the University of Nebraska. You will not see the master’s degree I got from Columbia University. But you will see the award certificate I got from the Dale Carnegie Course,’ said Buffett.
6. MiTek: A Global Success Story, 1981-2011 by Jim Healy
This book chronicles the story of MiTek, a successful Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary that manufactures engineered construction products. This book tells the story of how MiTek, which started as a small Midwestern firm in 1955, went from being on the verge of financial collapse to becoming a dominant supplier in its industry.
Healy’s book is a great resource if you want to see how Buffett researches and identifies companies for acquisition. Buffett recommended MiTek: A Global Success Story in his 2011 Letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders.
7. The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William N. Thorndike Jr.
The Outsiders is a good place to start if you want to see what Buffett looks for in a CEO. In this book, Thorndike, a graduate of Harvard College and the Stanford Graduate School of Business, profiles eight unconventional but successful CEOs who took a radically different approach to corporate management.
You might not recognize all their names, but you’ve probably heard of their companies: General Cinema, Ralston Purina, Berkshire Hathaway, General Dynamics, and Capital Cities Broadcasting, to name a few.
Thorndike examines former Capital Cities CEO and Berkshire Hathaway director Tom Murphy. In 2012, Buffett wrote,’ [The Outsiders] is an outstanding book about CEOs who excelled at capital allocation.’ He furthered, ‘It has an insightful chapter on our director, Tom Murphy, the best business manager I’ve ever met.’
8. Where Are the Customers’ Yachts? Or a Good Hard Look at Wall Street by Fred Schwed
Where Are the Customers’ Yachts? exposes the hypocrisy of Wall Street through the story of a visitor to New York who admires the yachts of bankers and brokers. He then wonders where all the customers’ yachts have gone. (Hint: They didn’t have any because they couldn’t afford them — even though they all followed the advice of their bankers and brokers.)
The title refers to the fact that most Wall Street traders and bankers do not own yachts or Rolls Royces. This book exposes Buffett’s opinion of Wall Street, where he once worked.
In 2006 Buffett stated that ‘this is the funniest book ever written about investing’ and that ‘it lightly delivers many truly important messages on the subject.’
9. The Clash of the Cultures: Investment vs Speculation by John C. Bogle
John C. Bogle is the founder of The Vanguard Group, which is credited as the creator of the first index fund. The Clash of the Cultures outlines Bogle’s investment philosophy.
Bogle explains the difference between speculation and investment and warns investors against speculation. Bogle offers a simple overview of his philosophy through 10 Simple Rules of ‘Common Sense Investing.’
Buffett recommended The Clash of the Cultures in his 2012 Letter to Shareholders. Buffett recommends this book because Bogle distrusts the investment industry and encourages readers to be skeptical of analysts.
10. Investing Between the Lines: How to Make Smarter Decisions by Decoding CEO Communications by L.J. Rittenhouse
Drawing from more than ten years’ worth of research, L.J. Rittenhouse, a trust and valuation expert, outlines a system to measure organizational trustworthiness as a predictor of investment potential. In other words, Rittenhouse shows investors how to translate corporate propaganda.
In a 2012 shareholder letter, Buffett recommended this title. Both Rittenhouse and Buffett distrust corporate leaders and their pronouncements. Investing Between the Lines shows investors how CEO statements affect a company’s value.
11. The Most Important Thing Illuminated: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor by Howard Marks
Buffett is no stranger to risk, but he does believe there should be a methodology behind it. To help develop that methodology, Buffett recommends The Most Important Thing Illuminated. Marks, the largest investor in distressed securities worldwide, is renowned for his insightful assessments of market opportunity and risk.
Marks encourages investors to think for themselves by describing his mistakes and what he learned from them.
12. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns by John C. Bogle
This is the second book on this list written by Bogle that Buffett recommends. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing is a great resource for ordinary investors because it offers a set of simple value investing principles. Buffett believes this book is a great resource for novice investors entering the markets.
In a 2014 letter, Buffett wrote, ‘there are a few investment managers, of course, who are very good — though, in the short run, it’s difficult to determine whether a great record is due to luck or talent.’ He continued, ‘rather than listening to their siren songs, investors — large and small — should read ‘The Little Book of Common Sense Investing.’
13. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
Shoe Dog is a memoir by Nike co-founder Phil Knight. The memoir chronicles the history of Nike from its founding and its early challenges to its evolution into one of the world’s most recognized companies.
Buffett’s 2016 letter to shareholders describes Shoe Dog as the ‘best book I read last year.’ Buffett further praised the author, co-founder, and current chairman emeritus of Nike, Inc., calling Knight a ‘very wise, intelligent and competitive fellow who is also a gifted storyteller.’
Shoe Dog reveals Buffett’s thoughts on branding and consumer products.
14. Dream Big by Cristiane Correa
Dream Big chronicles the story of 3G Capital, a Brazilian money management firm. It follows how Jorge Paulo Lemann, Marcel Telles, and Beto Sicupira built the biggest empire in Brazilian capitalism and unprecedentedly launched themselves onto the world stage.
They acquired three globally-recognized American brands: Budweiser, Burger King, and Heinz. This has been achieved as discreetly as possible, and they have shunned any personal publicity. The management method they developed is based on meritocracy, simplicity, and constant cost-cutting.
Buffett recommended Dream Big at the 2014 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. Dream Big could be a good read if you want insight into Buffett’s beliefs about leadership and management.
15. Limping on Water by Phil Beuth and K.C. Schulberg
Limping on Water chronicles Phil Beuth’s broadcasting career at Capital Cities/ABC-TV. Buffett admired and invested in these companies, which are now part of The Walt Disney Company.
In 2015, Buffett wrote in his annual shareholder letter that Limping on Water tells you a lot about its leaders, Tom Murphy and Dan Burke. These two were the best managerial duo — both in what they accomplished and how they did it — that Charlie and I ever witnessed.’ Buffett continued to say, ‘much of what you become in life depends on whom you choose to admire and copy.’
This book exposes some of Buffett’s ideas on corporate leadership and entrepreneurship.
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Warren Buffett boasts about the long-term benefits of reading, claiming that you should go to bed a little smarter each day. Finding the time to read for personal benefit is essential to leading a more meaningful life.
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Which book does Warren Buffett recommend?
Buffett has recommended the above books on various occasions, such as during talks, meetings, annual conferences, and annual shareholder letters. A book that he commonly references is The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham. Buffett has called this book ‘by far the best book about investing ever written.’
What does Warren Buffett say about reading?
Warren Buffet has a reputation for being a prodigious reader, spending as much as six hours per day reading books and newspapers. He has famously recommended that people seeking success should be reading 500 pages every day. He says, ‘that’s how knowledge works — it builds up like compound interest.’
Which book influenced Warren Buffett?
Dale Carnegie has proven to be an influential figure for Buffett, as has his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People. For Buffett, one area of investment takes precedence over all others; investing in oneself. Buffett says, ‘I was terrified of public speaking when I was young. I couldn’t do it. It cost me $100 to take a Dale Carnegie course, which changed my life.’