Knowing how to invest is a life skill that can pay off big. If you're just getting into the game though, learning how to play the markets to your advantage can be complicated.
The books below tell you what you need to know to make money, without a lot of financial terminology. They're not your typical textbooks — they're as fun as they are informative, and must reads for anyone interested in business and investing.
"A Random Walk Down Wall Street"
For novice investors, "A Random Walk Down Wall Street" provides a great foundation for getting started — whether you plan to manage your own investments or want to work in collaboration with a broker or financial adviser.
By using the bursting of the dot-com bubble as an example of how not to invest, Burton Malkiel offers advice on how to evaluate a wide range of investments from stocks and bonds to real estate and collectibles. He also provides a "life cycle" guide to investing, which helps you to better understand how your asset allocation should change at different ages and with different investment goals.
"Buffet: The Making of an American Capitalist"
Warren Buffett — also known as the "Oracle of Omaha" — is one of the greatest investors of our time, and this book not only provides insight into his investment philosophy, but it also gives you the inside scoop on who he is as a person, from his early career, to his unique marriage, to how he has chosen to raise his children.
As you will see, despite his astronomical net worth — he's the third richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine — he lives a very modest life, but has made a major impact on the world of investing. Buffett is a value investor, which means he buys companies that are currently undervalued by the market.
But Buffett isn't just looking for cheap companies. Rather, he is looking for niche players with "economic moats" — his term for sustainable competitive advantages — around their business.
Buffett is a great practitioner of the idea of investing in what you understand and can easily explain, and his investment in a company like Coca-Cola is a great example of this. This book is a page turner and more of a "beach" read than you might think.
"One Up on Wall Street"
Author Peter Lynch — another superstar investor — employs an investment approach similar to Buffett. His philosophy is based on the idea that people can reap significant rewards by investing in companies with easy-to-understand products that are encountered in everyday life. In "One Up on Wall Street," Lynch provides his perspective on how he built a tremendous track record as the portfolio manager of Fidelity's multibillion-dollar Magellan Fund.
To give you a sense of the magnitude of Lynch's accomplishments: When he started managing Magellan in 1977, the fund had about $18 million in assets. By the time he left, in 1990, the fund was up to approximately $14 billion in assets with a portfolio of more than 1,000 stocks.
In addition to telling his own story, Lynch also provides some basics for how to evaluate companies, and includes advice on which numbers on a company's financial statements really matter.
Similar to "A Random Walk Down Wall Street," this book is an excellent read for those looking to become more skilled investors by learning the basics from one of investing's greats. Click here to read an excerpt.
"Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don't"