There are a lot of great books out there, but there are always a few that stand out. While I haven’t read every book out there–and I am sure there are some great ones other than these–here are four of my favorites.
1. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefevre
I have written about in prior posts, and it is still one of my all time favorites. It was published in 1923, and yet so much of it is still relevant today. It is based on the life of Jesse Livermore, a very success and tragic figure, yet through it all we learn a great deal about ourselves and the markets.
The story takes us through the ups and downs and trader…the good times and the bad times, and how to learn something from each of those experiences. It is a book that every trader I know can relate to, and offers many great reminders no matter what stage of the trading journey you are in.
2. Trading in the Zone by Mark Douglas
One of the best books I have read on the psychology of trading. It forces you to rethink how you view trading, so you overcome the obstacles so many traders face, such as over-trading, under trading, being fearful or getting greedy.
One of the most important elements of the book is how it forces you to look at the markets in a non-predictable way. Your strategy must be based on a method that works in a somewhat chaotic environment, and a sea of endless change and uncertainty. Trying to predict isn’t going to get you anywhere, and this book shows you why, and why you don’t need to predict anything to be a good trader.
3. Beyond Greed and Fear by Hersh Sherfin
Another great trading psychology type book. It includes lots of stats and psychological experiments that show human vulnerabilities when it comes to making chance bets, such as a trading decision. Humans by default fall into these traps, but by being aware of the pitfalls there is opportunity to condition ourselves to overcome them.
The book also delves into how we hide these pitfalls from ourselves, so even though we think we aren’t doing what everyone else is doing, by trying to avoid it (almost) everyone ends up doing the same thing. Our minds have hidden biases and frames of references which cloud judgement and may force us to act in ways which aren’t in our best interest. This book addresses some of these issues, helping you to become more clear in your decision making.
4. The Complete Turtle Trader by Michael Covel
This is a very different strategy than what I use, which showcases that there is no one way to trade. Rather it is having a system that matters, and then following that system to exploit an edge.
The book details the Turtle Traders, a trader experiment conducted by Richard Dennis which took ordinary people and turned them into traders by giving them a proven trading plan. The traders only goal was to follow that plan and profits would come. Even that isn’t as easy as it sounds. There are loads of winning trading systems out there, but fewer winning traders. The book helps outline what makes a successful trader and a successful trading system.
There are a lot of great trading books out there. There is also a lot of crap. I typically find that traders want to read about strategies; they want something that assures them money. There is no such thing. You are better off spending your time reading books that help you understand the psychological elements of what you will go through as a trader. Ultimately you will find that strategy doesn’t matter as much as you think, it is understanding a few basic principles and being able to handle your own biases and bad habits that will make you successful.