100 books to read before you croak or turn 40

5 mins read time

They say you can tell everything about someone by taking a look at his bedside reading list. Here is a new feature that shares my bedside reading habits. This week the list only has a couple of recommended titles, it will slowly grow over new posts and book reviews. Enjoy!

My heavy finance reading recommendations – books to put you to sleep and more

Contemporary Financial Intermediation – Stuart I. Greenbaum & Anjan V. Thakor

A short, sweet and well written introduction to the business of banking and the history of banking regulation

Competition Demystified – B.C. Greenwald’s J Kahn’s

Bruce wrote two books. Value Investing and Competition Demystified. Both are worthy of your attention, but this is the more powerful of the two.

The Handbook of Fixed Income Securities – Frank J Fabozzi

For Fixed Income Traders. Not for the light hearted.

Fooled by Randomness – The Hidden Role of Chance in and in the Markets – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

An unbroken three hundred page rant. Don’t take people at face value. Don’t confuse luck with skills.

The Black Swan – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Part II of the rant. Difficult read but important.

Fundamentals of Corporate Finance – Brealey and Meyers

There are good books and bad books, readable and unreadable books. In the field of Corporate Finance and Investment banking there are very few great books and the one that stands out is the Brealey and Meyers text on Corporate Finance that almost all Finance professionals have cut their teeth on at some point in time. Brealey and Meyers stands out

  1. Because of its sheer depth and coverage
  2. Despite (a) it doesn’t read like a dictionary (which is how I rate Faboozi)

If you like a refresher or a crystal clear introduction to the subject as well as a comprehensive review of a large range of topics, the Brealey and Meyers text book is the book for you

Analysis for Financial Management

Ratio analysis simplified.

Ratio Analysis is a dry subject and Higgins makes it as entertaining as a classy piece of fiction. His intuitive presentation of complex relationships across ratios is one of the best that I have ever read in the last 20 years of browsing, reading and ultimately memorizing tomes on this subject. While not as detailed as some of the competing titles on this topic, Higgins does a great job of getting the fundamentals right and making them come across in lucid layman terms

Fixed Income Securities, Second edition, Bruce Tuckman

The Tuckman textbook stands out for many reasons. First unlike most computational finance reference sources, it is actually written in English. Paul Petty at Goldman Sachs told me once that he would only read my summary recommendation on the value at risk upgrade if I kept all numbers and equations out of it. While Tuckman manages to smuggle in a few Greek symbols and lots of numbers inside, he does it with such grace that it becomes part of your conversation with him.

I was introduced to Bruce when the book became prescribed reading by the Society of Actuaries for the Advance Derivative course (the old V-480 exam). In my first few reads when I read his introduction to term structure modeling, I actually wept since Bruce lucidly explained in a few pages concepts that I had struggled to comprehend after 18 readings of John C. Hull.

Fixed Income Mathematics, Term structure modeling, Interest Rate simulators, Calibration of interest rates models, repurchase contracts and mortgage backed securities. If you need an easy to read, handy reference for all of the above topics without breaking your budget or your desk, Fixed Income Securities (University edition) by Bruce Tuckman is the book for you. When working in the field I end up using Tuckman far more than the Handbook of Fixed Income securities by Fabozzi or John C. Hull.

Snowball. Warren Buffet and the business of life, Alice Schroeder

My light fiction and non-fiction reading recommendations – books to keep you awake at night

So you can’t see yourself doing any more numbers. Your mind is numb and you would like a good read far away from the world of Banking and Finance.

Two of my all time favorite escapes from Finance are Cryptonomicon and Prayers for an Assassin.

Cryptonomicon – Neal Stephenson

Cryptonomicon is not as far removed from the world of banking as I may have hinted initially but it is a remarkably well written combo of history, timelines and elements of embedded computer science. But I must warn you, you either love Neal Stephensen or you hate him, there is no middle ground. Crypto’s theme weaves across World War II, Manila, Brunei, Hackers and unbeatable codes with some violence thrown in for good measure.

Prayers for the Assassin – Robert Ferrigno

Robert Ferrigno’s Prayers for an Assassin is a remarkably different book. I loved it while a family friend thought that I must be sick to be reading a book like Assassins. If you like a summarized theme, think Islamic Republic of North America, alternate timelines (obviously) and a likeable Assassin by the name of Rakkim. When I found Prayers at a bookstore in Malaysia, its cover and summarized theme made me pick it up. Turn a few pages and Ferrigno’s style will get its hooks into you. And then there is no turning back. Once again, the book is exceedingly violent with two very disturbing themes that may turn your stomach. Not recommended for younger readers at all.

Founders at work, Jessica Livingston, Y-Combinator

Being a founder is difficult work. It is frustrating at time hopeless and only for a lucky few worthwhile. Sometimes in your darkest moment, you need a balance between cheerleading and reality. Other founders who have walked that path and shared that door with you; Other stories with different endings to help you keep your sanity.

Jessica Livingston at Y-Combinator manages to do a bit of both. Her choice of companies, founders and objective narrative keeps the cheerleading at bay but at the same time gives you enough courage to see the end of one more day. And sometimes that is all what you need. The softcover edition is out and is priced under 15 dollars on Amazon right now. It is a much better read than my 19 dollars copies of Reboot. Go grab one.

Reamde – Neal Stephenson

Wolves Eat Dogs – Martin Cruz Smith

Three Stations – Martin Cruz Smith

Red Square – Martin Cruz Smith

Polar Star – Martin Cruz Smith

Stalin’s Ghost – Martin Cruz Smith

Havana Bay – Martin Cruz Smith

December 6 – Martin Cruz Smith

The Alchemist – Paul Coelho

The Wake-up – Robert Ferrigno

Scavanger Hunt – Robert Ferrigno

Heart Breaker – Robert Ferrigno

Burn Rate: How I survived the Gold Rush Years on the Internet – Michael Wolf

Resurrection Day – Brendan Dubois

Timeline – Michael Crichton

State of Fear – Michael Crichton

Airframe – Michael Crichton

Prey – Michael Crichton

A case of Need – Michael Crichton

Next – Michael Crichton

Rising Sun – Michael Crichton

House of Suns – Alastair Reynolds

The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer – Neal Stephenson

Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson

The Cobweb – Neal Stephenson

Interface – Neal Stephenson

The Stieg Larsson Trilogy, The Girl with the …. series

So when I found my self facing the new imprint of the Girl who played with fire at the Borders store in Dubai, one hand reached for the shelf, the other one for the wallet. And then I actually pined for the last part of the series. So pick the entire set in hardcover, prepared to be offended as you have never been offended before and if you really like offbeat fiction from a strange land from the hands of a writer who left too soon, you won’t regret it.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest – Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy Bundle – Stieg Larsson

Thirteen – Richard K. Morgan

Altered Carbon – Richard K. Morgan

Woken Furies – Richard K. Morgan

Broken Angels – Richard K. Morgan

Our Kind of Traitor – John Le Carre

Absolute Friends – John Le Carre

Single & Single – John Le Carre

Where Eagles Dare – Alistair Maclean