Who has time to read 10 books?
You do, if you want to get really serious about investing and boost your chances of scoring strong portfolio gains. Even if it takes a couple of years, gleaning insights from the brightest minds in the world of investing can help you find winners, and just as important, avoid losers.
Here's a quick look at the most essential titles for investors. If any of these books grab your attention, just click on the link to purchase.
1. Security Analysis: Sixth Edition, by Benjamin Graham, David Dodd, and Seth Klarman
Graham and Dodd are the godfathers of the value investing crowd. Warren Buffett credits them -- and this book -- for teaching him the importance of finding companies that hold even more value in the real world than they do in terms of stock market value.
That approach, which focuses on the key ingredients of financial statement analysis, helps to ensure that there will always be demand for these companies, even when the stock market is down on their prospects.
In the book's sixth edition, published in 2008, value investor Seth Klarman adds some modern insights to help update this 80-year old classic. Klarman knows of what he speaks. He's been racking up 20% annual gains, on average, over the last 25 years for his investment fund, the Baupost Group.
Who This Book Is For: This is a must-read for anyone interested in investing or business.
2. Buffett Beyond Value: Why Warren Buffett Looks to Growth and Management When Investing, by Prem Jain
Consider this book to be the perfect adjunct to Graham & Dodd's "Security Analysis."
Buffett, who has always employed their rules for value investing, has added his own focus on growth opportunities to help him find companies that can boost profits at a better-than-average pace. A close look at Buffett's writings, lectures and interviews allows Jain to create a holistic view of one of the most famous investors of the modern era.
Who This Book Is For: Investors looking to emulate the iconic investment style that made Buffett the legend he is today.
3. A Random Walk Down Wall Street, by Burton Malkiel
Consider this to be the quintessential guide for the skeptical investor. Malkiel pokes holes in many of Wall Street's biggest myths, often contradicting the blindingly optimistic advice that many stock brokers try to peddle to their clients.
Malkiel underlines the long odds that investors face in trying to beat the market, focusing on ways to trim expenses through the use of the lowest-cost investments such as index funds. His conclusions remain controversial for investors that can outperform the market, but should be required reading for these top investors anyway, as the book highlights the potential land mines that all investors face.
Who This Book Is For: The realistic investor who is more interested in building and protecting his nest egg rather than swinging for the fences.
4. The Wall Street Journal Complete Money and Investing Guidebook, by Dave Kansas
This book should always be an arms-length away. It covers virtually every major topic in investing in a clear and concise fashion. Kansas, a veteran financial journalist, covers a range of red flags that every investor should , using key events for the basis of important lessons to be learned.
The book, published in 2005, is due for an update to help capture new lessons learned in the most recent financial crisis.
Who This Book Is For: New investors interested in the fundamentals of investing; experienced investors looking for a quick and solid refresher.
5. Jim Cramer's Getting Back to Even, by Jim Cramer
The famous TV show can be quite polarizing. His role as a provider of rapid -- and superficial -- stock picks on his nightly TV show has cost investors as much money as he's made them. Yet his role as an educator is undeniably impressive, with a keen ability to explain how Wall Street insiders think.
His deep roster of books are generally solid, and this one, published in 2009, is one of his most recent. The key for investors is to develop the investing skills he suggests without actually buying stock ideas that he tosses off every night.
Who This Book Is For: Investors looking for a solid set of investing rules, written in plain English.
6. The Little Book of Valuation: How to Value a Company, Pick a Stock and Profit, by Aswath Damodaran
As a respected professor at NYU's Stern School of Finance, Damodaran knows how to take complex topics and break them down for investors that don't toil on Wall Street. He walks through all the steps necessary to fully and deeply analyze a specific stock, deciphering what is important to learn, and what is just noise.
Who This Book Is For: The individual investor that's new to the game, but wants to know what he's talking about.
7. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns, by John Bogle
If you think that low-cost index funds are the way to go, then this is the book for you.
Bogle, founder of investment firm Vanguard, has racked up many insights in his half-century long career, consistently advocating winning moves for the little guy in the battle against the Wall Street machine.
I know several investors that stopped focusing on stocks and instead directed their money into index funds after reading Bogle's books. This one, written in 2007, is one his most recent offerings.
Who This Book Is For: Investors looking to replace trading individual stocks with a broader-based strategy.
8. The Ultimate Guide to Trading ETFs: How To Profit from the Hottest Sectors in the Hottest Markets All the Time, by Don and Carolyn Dion
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are the spiritual successor to index funds, providing a low-cost approach to capture broad-based investment themes. For investors that like to focus on sectors and industries but lack the time or focus to buy individual stocks, ETFs are the often the best way to go.
Dion and his wife Carolyn offer a wide range of insights and strategies, from how to emerging industry opportunities to using leverage and short sales to boost your investment returns.
Who This Book Is For: Investors looking to profit by zeroing in on specific sector and market trends rather than individual stocks.
9. of the Financial Markets: A Comprehensive Guide to Trading Methods and Applications, by John Murphy
This book, published back in 1999, is still quite current. That's because technical analysis is a timeless art, focusing on key indicators that show investments that are starting to move in or out of favor.
Though many investors prefer fundamental analysis (that focuses on financial statements and company-specific growth trends), technical analysis is a crucial skill to help you discover the right time to buy or sell a stock that you have already researched. This book does an excellent job of breaking down the jargon and laying out the key concepts in a highly readable fashion.
Who This Book Is For: Investors looking for a clear and concise reference book on technical analysis.
With the U.S. and Western Europe facing major economic challenges, an increasing number of investors are focusing on emerging economies that appear to have more dynamic growth prospects. This book, published in 2011, offers a fresh look at recent investing trends in countries like China, India and Brazil. If you've only been focusing on the U.S. economy and U.S. stocks, it's time to broaden your exposure. This "For Dummies" book is quite savvy, despite the silly title.
Who This Book Is For: The investor looking for a solid introduction to the emerging markets of the world.