Best introductory books on investment?
February 14, 2006 8:06 PM   Subscribe

What American books provide the best introduction to personal investment?

A US-based relative recently asked my advice on books for learning about investment. I felt unable to provide good advice: most of my bookshelf is tailored to my country (New Zealand). While the fundamentals may be the same it's clear that differences between our laws, taxation regimes and financial markets render even simple advice potentially useless or worse.

He's mid-30's, good job, three kids and more on the way, so bonus points for books that address grownups with a little capital and children to provide for. He already has "The Wealthy Barber", and I have recommended The Intelligent Investor (a little advanced, maybe but it never gets old). I think we're going for low-risk and low-maintenance, so no texts on derivatives trading!
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen to Work & Money (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not familiar with it, but a friend (who is a financial markets professor at UMD) recommended to him The Stock Market Course (and workbook) by George Fontanills. My dad had nothing but good things to say about it, and his friend who recommended it to him is a smart cookie when it comes to that kind of thing (hence his job).
posted by charmston at 8:15 PM on February 14, 2006

Looks like you have the novice book out the way, but at this stage it can help to have a more thorough knowledge of how the stock market works and why. Although there are a large number of well-regarded investing books out there, for this circumstance one book that I could recommend is the third edition of What You Need to Know Before You Invest by Rod Davies. The title is a little misleading, because it's also for people who have started investing, but haven't achieved the intermediate-to-advanced level of investment sophistication.

The book is comprised of easy-to-digest chapters addressing such topics as different types of stocks and bonds, how to read a financial statement, and fundamental and technical analysis of stocks. It includes explanations of stock options, open- and closed-end mutual funds, investing tax implications and investor rights. Nothing terribly in-depth, but certainly ample for beginner-to-intermediate investors.

Anyway, the book isn't the type to tell someone how to go out and make a million, but it gives a good grounding and overview of the market investment process and can be referred back to as a reference manual for many basic concepts. At a 2003 copyright, it's not too old to discuss the Enron debacle, and although a few minor points have aged somewhat, overall, it's still basically on-target. For the right audience, I'd agree with its mid-4 star rating on Amazon.
posted by mdevore at 9:30 PM on February 14, 2006

I like to recommend the Motley Fool books - they have a humorous slant and I think people actual finish the book, instead of skipping around and confusing themselves even more. They have 8 books out now, covering things like retirement planning, education planning, etc.
posted by blackkar at 5:22 AM on February 15, 2006

I have been following this blog for a little while. He does a good job of picking up where Graham & Dodd and Buffett left off and it is geared towards educating people. I've been mining the blog for the step-by-step instructions he imparts in bits and pieces and it seems that the book he will be releasing should be a useful and good read. He pushes a subscription investment program but also explains how to work without one.
posted by iurodivii at 6:36 AM on February 15, 2006

Fellow mefite jdroth reviewed and compared several financial planning books last year over here.
posted by grateful at 7:02 AM on February 15, 2006

A Random Walk Down Wall Street is a classic and is very readable. Its author, Burton Malkiel, is a professor of economics at Princeton.
posted by TedW at 9:31 AM on February 15, 2006

I highly recommend The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need, by Andrew Tobias.

A couple related threads: [1], [2].
posted by russilwvong at 9:49 AM on February 15, 2006

I've always liked the Rich Dad Poor Dad series.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:30 AM on February 15, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you everyone, that's a most helpful selection. No best answer flag - all are good.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:07 PM on February 15, 2006

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