Warren Buffett is an American business magnate, investor, philanthropist, and the current CEO of Berkshire Hathaway — he is considered one of the most successful investors in the world and has a net worth of over $100.6 billion as of April 2021, making him the seventh wealthiest person in the world.
How did he come to be so good at investing? Simple — by reading. A lot.
He once said in an interview, “Look, my job is essentially just corralling more and more facts and information, and occasionally seeing whether that leads to some action.” And to this day, he still spends 80% of his day reading.
His strategy to achieve success is pretty simple: “going to bed a little smarter each day.”
He says this strategy begins to yield results within a few years and that it basically works in the same way that compound interest does — “That’s how knowledge builds up. Like compound interest”, he's been known to say.
Reading books is also a common habit among some of the most successful people in the world right now — people like Bill Gates, Mark Cuban, and Elon Musk are among the few who dedicate a significant part of their days to reading.
With that in mind, we'll talk about the top 20 books that Warren Buffett has recommended.
Top 20 Books Recommended By Warren Buffet
#20 Dream Big (By Cristiane Correa)
This is a book that Warren Buffett recommended in his Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting back in 2014 — in it, Cristiane Correa tells the story of the three founders of 3G Capital, a major Brazilian investment firm that joined Warren Buffett in the acquisition of H.J. Heinz in 2013.
In an interview with The New York Times, Correa highlighted that the main principles for 3G’s management style, cost-cutting strategies, and meritocracy led the company towards the path of their present-day success.
#19 Security Analysis: Principles and Techniques (By Benjamin Graham and David L. Dodd)
This book's core insight is that you can understand the value of a company and whether or not the market realizes it if your analysis is solid enough.
Warren Buffett considers himself fortunate to have both Benjamin Graham and David Dodd as his teachers back when he was at Columbia University. In fact, he said that this book, in particular, gave him “a roadmap for investing that I have been following for 57 years.”
Talking further about the said roadmap, he added, “There’s been no reason to look for another.”
#18 Take On The Street (By Arthur Levitt)
Readers can find anecdotes and essential everyday advice for investors to help them protect themselves from Wall Street within this book written by Arthur Levitt, a former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Buffett recommended this book in his shareholder letter from the 2002 annual meeting. He talked about the downfall of Arthur Andersen LLP and explained “how accounting standards and audit quality have eroded in recent years.” To elaborate on the topic further, he wrote: “The details of this sordid affair are related in Levitt’s excellent book, Take on the Street.”
#17 MiTek: A Global Success Story (By Jim Healey)
This book talks about MiTek Industries Inc., a supplier of engineered products in the construction sector.
Specifically, it describes how the company began as a small-time firm in 1955, almost became bankrupt, and eventually became a dominant presence in the industry — today, MiTek Industries is one of the most successful subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway.
This is another one of the books recommended by Buffett (you might have some trouble finding it because it’s not available on Amazon, though).
His opinion on the book is as follows: “You’ll learn how my interest in the company was originally piqued by my receiving in the mail a hunk of ugly metal whose purpose I couldn’t fathom. Since we bought MiTek in 2001, it has made 33 ‘tuck-in’ acquisitions, almost all successful”.
#16 The Clash of Cultures: Investment vs. Speculation (By John Bogle)
Another book recommendation that Buffett makes is one that he brought up in his 2012 shareholder letter and is authored by John Bogle — The Clash of the Cultures.
In the book, Bogle argues that short-term speculation is crowding out long-term investing. It’s an insightful read with several practical tips for investors on how to build their investment strategy.
It also offers ten actionable and detailed steps that investors of any type and coming from any place can take. John Bogle says in his book that his words “may not be the best strategy ever devised. But the number of strategies that are worse is infinite”.
#15 Where Are the Customers' Yachts?: or A Good Hard Look at Wall Street (By Fred Schwed)
In this book, Fred Schwed illustrates the story of a visitor to New York who admires the yachts owned by brokers and bankers. After that, the visitor asks himself where the yachts of all their customers went — after all, they did follow the advice of their bankers and brokers, so they should be able to afford them.
Warren Buffett recommended reading this book in his 2014 shareholder letter. An interesting thing to note, though, is that this is not the first time he's given this book some praise — in fact, back in 2006, Warren Buffett said of the book: “This is the funniest book ever written about investing. It delivers many truly important messages on the subject”.
#14 Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe (By Graham Allison)
Graham Allison, founding dean of Harvard’s modern John F. Kennedy School of Government, said that the possibility of a nuclear attack on the U.S. is inevitable unless the country changes its political strategy.
He uses this book to argue that a new international security order should be created using “three Noes.” These stand for:
- No loose nukes.
- No new nascent nukes.
- And no new nuclear states.
Buffett recommended reading this book in his 2004 shareholder letter for anybody concerned with America's safety.
#13 Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger (Edited By Peter D. Kaufman)
Poor Charlie’s Almanack is a collection of advice from Charlie Munger, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway vice-chairman.
It encapsulates information about his life and his philosophy on investing while also taking a look at conversations Munger had at Berkshire Hathaway meetings. It is an insightful look into one of the leading figures of stock market investing, and it's a book that Warren Buffett reads.
He talked about this book edited by Peter D. Kaufman in his 2004 letter to shareholders. He said: “Scholars have for too long debated whether Charlie is the reincarnation of Ben Franklin. This book should settle the question”.
#12 Essays In Persuasion (By John Maynard Keynes)
John Maynard Keynes is another legendary economist, and this book has long served as an integral part of economics literature since it was published almost 100 years ago. Buffett talks about this collection of writings as required reading for economists today.
He said in an interview he gave the Outstanding Investor Digest back in 1989, “Reading Keynes will make you smarter about securities and markets. I’m not sure reading most economists would do the same”.
This comprehensive collection also includes an essay by Keynes called “Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren,” in which he predicted that future generations will only have to work 15 hours a week.
#11 Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything (Edited By Carol J. Loomis)
This book offers insights into Buffett’s investment strategies, his views on public policy, philanthropy, management, and even parenting. It was edited by Carol J. Loomis, a former editor at Fortune magazine.
Warren Buffett spoke of Carol Loomis in his 2012 letter, “She has been invaluable to me in editing this letter since 1977”.
It's worth mentioning that one of the chapters includes an essay written by Bill Gates in 1996 that describes his early impressions of Buffett as they became friends.
#10 Jack: Straight from the Gut (By Jack Welch)
A book recommended by Warren Buffett in his 2001 shareholder letter, Jack: Straight from the Gut by Jack Welch, is a business memoir of the GE executive. Warren Buffett thinks Jack Welch is a smart, energetic, and hands-on professional.
Welch has had a substantial impact on the modern business world. The personal history of Jack Welch offers all managers valuable lessons that they can apply in their lives.
Buffett recommended this book by simply saying, “Get a copy!”
#9 Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street (By John Brooks)
Bill Gates once asked Warren Buffett for his favourite book back in 1991. He responded by sending him his copy of Business Adventures.
This book is a collection of New Yorker stories compiled and told by John Brooks. For Bill Gates, the book is a reminder that the principles of building a winning business remain constant.
He wrote, “For one thing, there’s an essential human factor in every business endeavour. It doesn’t matter if you have a perfect product, production plan, and marketing pitch; you’ll still need the right people to lead and implement those plans.”
#7 The Most Important Thing (By Howard Marks)
Another one of Buffett’s suggested books is written by Howard Marks, the chairman and co-founder of Oaktree Capital Management. He was initially planning to wait until he retired before he published this book, according to his Barron review in 2011.
In this book, Marks aims to help investors succeed by making well-thought-out decisions. He drew inspiration from his own mistakes and the lessons he learned from them so his readers can know better.
Buffett admired Marks’ client memos so much that he offered Marks’ to write a dust-jacket blurb for his book if Marks decided not to wait too long to publish the book. Buffett wanted people to read this book, and he described it as “a rarity, a useful book.”
#6 The Outsiders (By William N. Thorndike)
In his shareholder letter from 2012, Warren Buffett recommended this book written by William Thorndike Jr. He had high praise for the book, saying: “The Outsiders is an outstanding book about CEOs who excelled at capital allocation.”
The book brilliantly captures the successful patterns from executives at Ralston Purina, The Washington Post, and others. Forbes recommends this book as one of the most important business books in America.
Berkshire Hathaway also had a significant part to play in the book. There is a chapter in the book on the firm’s director Tom Murphy, who Buffett regards as “overall the best business manager I’ve ever met.”
#5 Investing Between The Lines (By L. J. Rittenhouse)
In this book, L. J. Rittenhouse uses more than a decade of research to define a system that measures the trustworthiness of organizations as a predictor of their investment potential.
Several books have been written on analyzing a business to help investors determine whether or not they should consider investing in a company. However, what makes this book special is that it also tells you how to interpret the persons behind those businesses to make a more well-informed decision.
Warren Buffett recommended reading this book in his 2012 annual shareholder letter.
#4 A Few Lessons for Investors and Managers From Warren Buffett (Edited By Peter Bevelin)
If you are short on time, Warren Buffett recommends this concise book. It's 81 pages long, and it's an easy must-read for investors and managers who want to learn from the Oracle of Omaha himself.
In this book, you will learn how to think about crucial topics surrounding your business (for example, traits of good and bad businesses, business valuation, how to reduce risk, corporate governance, the importance of trust, and acquisitions and their traps) in the words of Warren Buffett.
He said that the book “sums up what Charlie and I have been saying over the years in annual reports and at annual meetings.”
#3 The Intelligent Investor (By Benjamin Graham)
Warren Buffett was 19 when he picked up a copy of Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor, a book highlighting the basics of value investing and written by the most notable value investor of all time. It’s one of the best books on this list.
He regards it as one of the luckiest moments of his life since it helped him develop the intellectual framework for his approach to investing. The words of the legendary Wall Streeter struck him deeply in this investment book and shaped his investing career.
What Buffett has to say of the book is as follows: “To invest successfully over a lifetime does not require a stratospheric IQ, unusual business insights, or insider information. What’s needed is a sound intellectual framework for making decisions and the ability to keep emotions from corroding that framework. The book precisely prescribes the proper framework. You must provide emotional discipline.”
#2 Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits (By Philip Fisher)
In this book, Philip Fisher insists that fixating yourself on financial statements when it comes to making your stock picks is not enough. You also need to evaluate the management of a company in order to make an informed decision.
Philip Fisher is another significant name in the world of stock market investing. He specializes in investing in innovative companies, and he is known for his most famous investment: the purchase of Motorola, a company he bought in 1955 when it was a radio manufacturer and held until his death.
Buffett regards this book as one that changed his life, saying: “I am an eager reader of whatever Phil has to say, and I recommend him to you.”
#1 Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises (By Timothy F. Geithner)
This book was written by the former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Timothy F. Geithner, and it's another one of the books that Warren Buffett reads. He considers this a must-read text for any manager, and especially during a financial crisis.
Several books talk about managing an organization when the going is tough, but few provide the essential firsthand account of how to manage a section of the government through such a time.
Geithner writes, “This wasn’t just a little problem on the fringes of the U.S. mortgage market. I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I knew what financial crises felt like, and they felt like this.”
Warren Buffett once said, “We don’t read other people’s opinions. We want to get facts and then think”.
As someone who reads hundreds of pages each day and is a billionaire investor, it is no surprise that he’s in an excellent position to recommend books.
In this post, we've compiled the top 20 books that Warren Buffett has recommended everyone to read. While not all of these books are about investing, one thing is for sure — they will provide a lot of valuable advice and knowledge to you.