Books I Like

Here’s a list of books I really like by categories/genres. I excerpt and comment on some of them to offer more colour. The list starts from finance categories before proceeding to general knowledge and fiction. It isn’t exhaustive and it’ll probably evolve in the years ahead. Hope you’ll enjoy them.

Global Macro Trading

The Next Perfect Trade – Alex Gurevich

  • One of the best macro trading books. Hedge fund manager Alex Gurevich provides his framework for identifying what he calls ‘the superior trade’ or ‘trade dominance’. Enlightening read from one of the best thinkers in the space.

Alpha Trader – Brent Donnelly

  • A fairly new book among trading literature, but it’s one of the best in my view. Brent covers a wide range of topics here, from principles, to habits to process and tactics. It lays the foundation for successful trading well. Helped me a great deal.

Rational Macro – John Butters

  • A short but insightful read. Helps offer a more scientific approach when thinking about the investment process.

The Invisible Hands & Inside the House of Money – Steven Drobny

  • An excellent series of interviews with various macro investors. These 2 were instrumental for me as they offer a deeper look into the thinking processes of veterans and practitioners.

Expected Returns – Antti IImmanen

The Alchemy of Finance & Soros on Soros – George Soros

  • Must-read classics from the legend himself. Learn about ‘Reflexivity’, aka self-reinforcing trends or self-perpetuating loops. Look out for them in markets.

Hedge Fund Market Wizards – Jack Schwager

  • Exquisite list of guests (Michael Platt, Ray Dalio, Jamie Mai, Ed Thorp, etc) interviewed. Splendid.

Stan Weinstein’s Secrets For Profiting in Bull and Bear Markets – Stan Weinstein

  • I wouldn’t have touched this if it wasn’t recommended by macro hedge fund manager Mark Dow. In his words (which I agree): “Ignore the old and cheesy cover, it’s a great introduction to patterns and stock cycles. Yes, the world has changed since then, but basic building blocks of patterns and cyclical tendencies have not.”

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator – Edwin Lefèvre

  • A market classic that many quote anecdotes from. A cautionary tale of the dangers of overtrading and being too leveraged and the dark side of trading.

Rates, Currencies

The Handbook of Fixed Income Securities – Frank Fabozzi

Inside the Yield Book – Martin Leibowitz & Sidney Homer

Trading Fixed Income and FX in Emerging Markets – Willer, Chandran & Lam

  • Practitioner’s guide to trading EM rates, credits and currencies. Useful heuristics particularly when it comes to looking at global and local factors driving pricing of various EM assets.

The Art of Currency Trading – Brent Donnelly

  • Best book on currency trading I’ve read. More useful for discretionary traders. Helpful for someone looking to build a framework for their currency trading process.

Trading / Investing Process

Superforecasting – Philip Tetlock & Dan Gardner

  • Be a fox instead of a hedgehog. Adopt a probabilistic mindset. Apply practical Bayesian analysis in understanding the world.

The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande

  • Implementing checklists in processes can go a long way!

Managing Equity Portfolios – Michael Ervolini

  • This was recommended to me by a retired hedge fund manager friend. It details a framework to improve accountability in active investment management and performance. While written for equity portfolio managers, the points provided can definitely be tailored to other forms of investing.

The Hour between Dog and Wolf – John Coates

  • A neuro-biological perspective of risk-taking behaviour. Interesting read. Mental and physical health are important.

The Art of Execution – Lee Freeman-Shor

  • My review here.

Super Trader – Van K.Tharp

Investing Against the Tide – Anthony Bolton

  • The veteran fund manager shares his lifetime of experience as a money-manager.

Killing the Market: Legendary Investor Robert W. Wilson – Roemer McPhee

  • Details the life of the famous long short investor Robert Wilson. Wilson’s track record speaks volumes about what equity investors should focus on: the most critical variables that drive share prices; ignore the unimportant details.

Diary of a Professional Commodity Trader – Peter Brandt

  • Brandt is an exceptional and highly-disciplined trader.

Trading in the Zone – Mark Douglas

The Education of a Speculator – Victor Niederhoffer

Investing

Capital Returns – Edward Chancellor

  • Illustrates the Capital Cycle at work. A useful mental model for investing in highly-cyclical industries.

Tomorrow’s Gold – Marc Faber

  • Somehow a book that needs to be read twice. No asset or market will outperform forever. The framework provided for EM/frontier market investing still seems relevant.

The Most Important Thing & Mastering The Market Cycle – Howard Marks

  • I love reading the Oaktree Memos, so these two are naturally part of it. I’ve learned that being able to gauge market sentiment is an edge.

Investment Valuation – Aswath Damodaran

The Manual of Ideas – John Mihaljevic

The Essays of Warren Buffett – Lawrence Cunningham

General Finance

More Than You Know – Michael Mauboussin

  • Mauboussin makes the case for multi-disciplinary approach to finance and investing. Fascinating stuff.

Dead Companies Walking – Scott Fearon

  • A light and fun read. More like a memoir of an experienced short-seller. Remember the 3Fs – ‘frauds, fads, failures’.

Hedgehogging – Barton Biggs

  • Light and fun read. Most memorable was ‘smiling Gilbert’ and the swashbuckling high octane investor ‘Tim’.

Street Smarts – Jim Rogers

  • Light read that can be enjoyed at a café. Takeaways: study history, engage in philosophy to train critical thinking faculties, travel regularly, do your own homework, don’t trust the media.

When Genius Failed – Roger Lowenstein

  • The rise and fall of Long Term Capital Management is a lesson for every investor.

The Outsiders – William Thorndike

Confusion de Confusiones – Joseph de la Vega

Financial Markets History

The Ascent of Money – Niall Ferguson

  • Educational read on the history of finance (banking, capital markets).

A History of Interest Rates – Sidney Homer & Richard Sylla

Anatomy of the Bear – Russell Napier

  • Napier’s works are always a must-read. This book chronicled the history of the most well-known bear markets in financial history.

The Forgotten Depression – James Grant

  • Details the events of the 1920s economic depression.

Against the Gods – Peter Bernstein

  • Epic read about the history of risk-taking.

Manias, Panics & Crashes – Charles Kindleberger

Devil Take the Hindmost – Edward Chancellor

  • Fascinating read about the history of speculation and manias. Greed and fear have always manifested in markets.

Financial Market Bubbles and Crashes – Harold Vogel

Economics:

Trade Wars Are Class Wars – Michael Pettis & Matthew Klein

  • Good and simple read on the global trade systems.

The Deficit Myth – Stephanie Kelton

  • Simple explanation of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT). Important to understand the MMT school.

Narrative Economics – Robert Shiller

Principles for Navigating Big Debt Crisis – Ray Dalio

  • Useful as a reference when thinking or building a archetypal cycle template. Many case studies in here.

The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics – Richard Koo

The Economy of Cities & The Nature of Economies – Jane Jacobs

  • Jacobs understands that human societies and economies are inherently complex. Underrated reads in my view.

The Origin of Wealth – Eric Beinhocker

The Economics of Inflation – Constantino Bresciani-Turroni

Can Capitalism Survive? – Joseph Schumpeter

The Fatal Conceit – F.A. Hayek

The Road to Serfdom – F.A. Hayek

  • Hayek at his best. His polemic against authoritarianism and centrally-planned economies.

Capitalism and Freedom – Milton Friedman

The Theory of Money and Credit – Ludwig von Mises

The Wealth of Nations – Adam Smith

Das Kapital – Karl Marx

General Reads:

Alchemy – Rory Sutherland

The Success Equation – Michael Mauboussin

Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

  • Everyone references Kahneman’s book. Understand System 1 & System 2 thinking.

The Black Swan, Antifragile & Skin In The Game – Nassim Taleb

Risk Savvy – Gerd Gigerenzer

The Signal and the Noise – Nate Silver

Scale – Geoffrey West

The True Believer – Eric Hoffer

The Logic of Scientific Discovery (Logik der Forschung) – Karl Popper

  • An epic read. The whole concept is of Popper’s falsificationism is that we can’t prove something is undeniably true but rather, we can only attempt to falsify an hypothesis.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions – Thomas Kuhn

  • Learn about the Kuhn Cycle and how the stages of scientific progress throughout civilisation. In a way, this provides perspective into technological / innovation cycles as well.

Geopolitics

World Order – Henry Kissinger

General History:

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers – Paul Kennedy

The Lessons of History – Will & Ariel Durant

Guns, Germs and Steel – Jared Diamond

The Fall of the West – Adrian Goldsworthy

Empire: The Rise & Demise of the British World Order & the Lessons for Global Power – Niall Ferguson

Lords of the Desert – James Barr

Racing the Enemy – Tsuyoshi Hasegawa

Germany: Memoirs of a Nation – Neil MacGregor

Biographies:

A Man for All Markets – Edward Thorp

  • Excellent autobiography from Ed Thorp. Plenty of takeaways here.

Soros – Michael Kaufman

  • Nothing like reading about Soros and how he went from humble beginnings as a refugee and émigré to become a famous financier and philanthropist.

The Snowball – Alice Schroeder

No Bull – Michael Steinhardt

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War – Robert Coram

  • Boyd’s brilliance is a clear example of the power of multi-disciplinary thinking. Learn about OODA loops and to apply a Boydian framework to enhance performance.

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China – Ezra Vogel

  • Some parts were heartbreaking. Deng had an immense level of courage to acknowledge mistakes, pick up from failure and not hesitate to rework things.

Shogun: The Life of Tokugawa Ieyasu – A.L. Sadler

  • Ieyasu was the patriarch of the Tokugawa clan which unified Japan after the bloody and social upheavals of the Sengoku era (warring states). Fascinating look at a leader who survived and navigated such a chaotic period of time.

Giap: The General Who Defeated America in Vietnam – James Warren

  • One of my favourite books. Details the Vietnam War from the North Vietnamese perspective. Vo Nguyen Giap was the brainchild behind North Vietnam’s war against their enemies (Japan, France, USA). Learn how he led and engineered the three decade struggle to defeat and humiliate the strongest military powers on earth.

American Caesar – William Manchester

  • Well-written biography of the complex American General Douglas MacArthur.

Philosophy

Ethics – J.L. Mackie

The Last Word – Thomas Nagel

The Laws Of Simplicity – John Maeda

L’Etranger – Albert Camus

Fear & Trembling, The Sickness unto Death, Either/Or – Søren Kierkegaard

Thus Spoke Zarathustra – Friedrich Nietzsche

The Critique of Pure Reason – Immanuel Kant

Discourse on Metaphysics, Philosophical Essays – Gottfried Leibniz

The Republic – Plato

Business / Entrepreneurship:

Zero To One – Peter Thiel

Certain to Win – Chet Richards

Fiction

War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

1984 – George Orwell

Die Welt von Gestern (The World of Yesterday) – Stefan Zweig

  • Poignant read. A window into the 1930s. Zweig at his best.

Dune Series – Frank Herbert

  • Mind-blowing sci-fi story. The story takes place in an era that is post-artificial intelligence. The author did so to address the politics of humanity. It’s ecologically-centric and considers how humans and institutions may change over time. “Fear is the Mindkiller”.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes – Yoshiki Tanaka

  • This epic sci-fi from Japan broke my heart. It’s like Star Wars, only that there isn’t exactly a good or bad side throughout the story and it’s way better than SW. It was recommended by research firm Gavekal. It is thought-provocative and explores political themes such as whether a corrupted populist democracy is better than an efficient dictatorship. May turn people into pacifists. Totally under the radar.

Remembrance of Earth’s Past – Liu Cixin

  • Stunning page-turner! If humanity ever encounters an extra-terrestrial civilisation, things could well play out the way Liu wrote in this trilogy.

The Foundation Trilogy – Isaac Asimov

  • Fantastic and epic story. A mentor of mine who’s an experienced macro trader said this trilogy is akin to trading big picture global macro themes. Compelling analogy.

The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco

  • An incredibly beautiful and poignant story eloquently written. Just imagine a medieval version of Sherlock Holmes. Taught me about the downside of intellectual hubris. Knowledge should be shared for human progress.

Foucault’s Pendulum – Umberto Eco

The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien

  • Epic classic. Everything about the beauty of life.

Ficciones – Jorge Luis Borges

Personal Development:

Talent Is Overrated – Geoff Colvin

  • It’s all about deliberate practice.

The Talent Code – Daniel Coyle

So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport

  • Following your passion may not be the wisest choice. This book examines this well and emphasises the focus on skill.

Deep Work – Cal Newport

Atomic Habits – James Clear

  • Read my article here.

The Leader, the Teacher & You – Lim Siong Guan

Mastery – George Leonard

The Art of Learning – Josh Waitzkin

Grand Strategy:

The Art of War – Sun Zi

Napoleon On the Art of War – Jay Luvaas

Samurai:

The Book of Five Rings – Miyamoto Musashi

Hagakure – Yamamoto Tsunetomo

The Unfettered Mind – Takuan Soho

Classics:

The Iliad & The Odyssey – Homer