People have often asked me to compile a list of books that have helped shape my development as a trader, and so I’ve been meaning to compile that list for quite some quite some time now.
You might be surprised to see that only 2 books in that list are directly trading-related. Why is that so? Well, to my mind, no other trading books out there did such an amazing job at assessing the psychological difficulties traders go through as they venture across the tumultuous and troubled paths to market success. More often, I found non-trading-related books to provide a more in-depth and accurate assessment of the situation.
So, the books below are my favorites so far. I’ll continue amending this list (in the recommended section of the site) and adding new books as I think of them.
Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Suzuki was integral in bringing Zen to the West and this gem of a book should not be passed over. It has been said that Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is difficult to understand because it requires that you cultivate a meditation practice to understand it to the fullest, but I still think the book contains countless lessons that non-meditators will find useful and applicable to any field, not just meditation.
Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery
I found this book crucial when it comes to wrapping your mind around concepts of detachment, impermanence, meditation, nothingness…. And applying these lessons will definitely help towards mastery in any pursuit – including trading.
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking fast and slow
Daniel Kahneman offers a truly amazing, researched, and balanced analysis of all that we are as decision makers. This book will show you how and why our decisions tend to be mostly based on cognitive biases and so feelings, and feelings can have an uneasy relationship with facts. This book has definitely sealed in my mind the importance of a systematic approach to trading and I’m never going back. I highly recommend this one.
Nassim Taleb, The black swan
Nassim Taleb offers convincing arguments on many topics including randomness, the invalidity of the Gaussian Bell Curve to most things in the world, concepts of scalability, numerous instabilities in the world, people’s inability to predict the future, and so on. Though I find the tone in which the book was written a tad pretentious, this is an excellent read nonetheless.
Nassim Taleb, Fooled by randomness
In this one, Nassim Taleb discusses how random outcomes work their way into our lives. As always, Taleb’s work is provocative, and while his visible insecurities about a lot of things transpire through his writings, some of his ideas are still interesting and thought-provoking. If you can keep an open mind in the midst of information that challenges your views of the world, I think you’ll extract a wealth of knowledge from this book.
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
I have to say, I’ve been very hesitant to put this one on that list. Don’t get me wrong, The Power of Now is a great book, but some might find it all too repetitive. The way I see it is that repetition is good and if you feel annoyed by it, then it might be useful for you to inquire about what you’re feeling, because in the end, this is exactly what the practice is all about.
Mark Douglas, The disciplined trader
Mark Douglas, Trading in the zone
David Eagleman, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain
So much of our lives (our decisions, feelings, thoughts, behaviour…) is orchestrated by the subconscious mind – which happens under the hoof of conscious awareness. Incognito is one of the better books out there that draws a map of this terrain. Even better, despite being a neuroscientist, David Eagleman’s writing style is both compelling and user friendly. A must read!
Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success
If you have ever wondered why some people prevail and live remarkably successful lives while others fail to reach their full potential, then this book is for you. It will make you realize that within all of us is world class success that is waiting to emerge, provided that we cultivate the discipline to put in the work required.
David Epstein, The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance
The nature/nurture debate has long been central to the discussion on ultimate human performance. Malcolm Gladwell discusses it in Outliers but Epstein breaks it down further and expands on what we know and what we don’t, and where it might all lead. This is a well written book that holds your attention – at least it held mine.
Charles MacKay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
In this book, you’ll learn about some important episodic manias that shaped human history — the Mississippi scheme, South-sea bubble, Tulip mania, the crusades and then the witch mania. He deeply expands on why and how these outbursts of craziness came to be, and how they’ll never really die off because they’re essentially intrinsic to our nature. Revealing, Fascinating, frightening…
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
“The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.”
Stephen Batchelor, Confession of a Buddhist Atheist
This book offers a very deep re-examination of Siddhartha Gautama’s life and teachings. It also offers a very deep look at the author’s own journey, and several questions/ponderings surrounding religions in general are addressed. In the end, I found Batchelor’s conclusions to be ones that I align with.
Tal Ben Shahar, The pursuit of perfect
I first read this book in 2009 and it immediately helped me articulate what I always knew about myself back then: I’m a perfectionist; I am afraid of failure; I am inflexible. We need to give ourselves permission to be humans. This is the main theme of this book. Tal BenShahar explains how many people (including himself at some point) fail to lead a full and fulfilling life because they do not allow themselves to experience the full range of human emotions. By doing so, they limit their potential for happiness.
That’s it for now folks. More soon. You’ll find this list in the recommended section of the website as I keep updating it.