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Just over half of Americans own stock, a 2020 Gallup poll found, and whether someone owned stock was closely related to household income and education level, among other factors. In fact, 85% of those with post-graduate education and 84% of households that earned $100,000-plus were among the group that owned stock, while only 22% of households earning less than $40,000 were invested in the stock market.
If you’re one of the 45% of Americans who aren’t invested in the market, or already have an investment portfolio and simply want to see it grow, then read on for our picks of the best investing books.
Best Overall: The Intelligent Investor
Though first published in 1949, the teachings of Benjamin Graham’s "The Intelligent Investor" are still influential today. The book centers around his well-known value investing strategy or the practice of buying stocks for prices less than their value—in other words, stocks that are currently undervalued by the market. "The Intelligent Investor" shows readers how to make money in the stock market without taking massive risks while tackling the emotional aspect of investing. This updated version includes commentary and footnotes by financial journalist Jason Zweig, which adds a touch of modernity.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: The Little Book of Common Sense Investing
You don’t know investing if you don’t know index funds. “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing" by John C. Bogle, founder of the Vanguard Group, focuses on just that. It explains Bogle’s low-cost index fund investment strategy in clear detail, including tips on how to make index fund investing work for you and your portfolio. This 10th-anniversary edition is updated with new information as it relates to the modern market. Still, it remains a must-read for all investing enthusiasts. Bogle is also the author of “Common Sense on Mutual Funds” and “Enough.”
Best on Real Estate Investing: The Book on Rental Property Investing
Investing isn’t just for the stock market; investing in real estate is also an excellent way to build wealth. That’s why Brandon Turner’s “The Book on Rental Property Investing” is an essential investing book. It’s full of advice on how to build your own rental property income streams, from common mistakes of real estate investors (and how to avoid them) to tips for finding deals on rental properties to how to finance rentals. Turner, a real estate investor, is also the co-host of the "BiggerPockets Podcast."
Related: The Best Real Estate Investing Books
Best for Beginners: A Beginner's Guide to the Stock Market
"A Beginner's Guide to the Stock Market" explains everything readers want to know about the stock market—most importantly, how to make money from it. Written by bestselling author and former hedge fund manager Matthew Kratter, it covers topics ranging from common investor mistakes and how to avoid them, where to open a brokerage account, how to buy your first stock, and even how to make passive income in the stock market.
Best for Basics: The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need
Andrew Tobias’ “The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need” was written in the 1970s (while he was working as a writer for New York Magazine, no less), but its advice still rings true today. The book has tips on how to build wealth (no matter your means), how to best prepare for retirement, and even everyday strategies that will save you big over the long term—all told in the author’s trademark witty, straightforward writing style. (This updated version also applies these lessons to today’s market.) Tobias is the author of New York Times bestsellers "Fire and Ice" and "The Invisible Bankers" and is a regulator contributor to Time, Esquire, and Parade.
Best Memoir: Rich Dad Poor Dad
Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad Poor Dad” is one of the most popular personal finance books of all time and with good reason. It tells the story of the author growing up with his father and his friend’s father and what he learned from both dads, from assets and liability to how you don’t need a large income to make money, and even what your kids aren’t learning in school (but should be). Though the book was first published in 1997, this 20th-anniversary edition includes an updated take from Kiyosaki.
Related: The Best Personal Finance Books
Best for Millennials: The Money Manual
Tonya Rapley’s “The Money Manual” is an ideal place to start for millennials who want to invest, but aren’t sure where to start—or for those who aren’t sure what to do with their money, period. Among the topics covered are simple money management techniques, setting financial goals, improving and building credit, and even how to tackle student loan debt. Rapley is the founder of My Fab Finance and has appeared on Forbes, U.S. News, New York Daily News, Refinery29, Vogue, and more.
Best Classic: Think and Grow Rich
Napoleon Hill’s bestselling “Think and Grow Rich” is part motivational guide, part financial guide. Hill compiles stories from the business greats—think Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison—to support his trademark “Law of Success” philosophy or the principles that'll help one achieve success. First published in 1937, it’s since sold more than 15 million copies. This updated version includes commentary from Arthur R. Pell, Ph.D., an author, lecturer, and consultant.
Best for Women: The Women’s Guide to Successful Investing
Did you know that, according to a survey by S&P Global, only 26% of American women have invested in the stock market? It’s time to change that. Nancy Tengler’s “The Women’s Guide to Successful Investing” covers everything from wealth accumulation strategies to market analysis to advice meant just for female investors.
With two decades of professional investing experience, Tengler is a columnist, author, and professor. She’s also been a guest on CNBC, PBS, CNN, and more.
Best Skill-Building: One Up on Wall Street
Want to “one-up” the market? Then who better to learn from than one of the most legendary investors of all time? Peter Lynch’s “One Up On Wall Street” zeroes in on how average investors can outperform the pros by simply finding everyday investment opportunities before they do. This is called finding a “tenbagger" or investing in a stock that appreciates ten-fold after you buy it. Lynch, the vice chairman of Fidelity Management & Research Company and former portfolio manager of Fidelity Magellan Fund, is also the co-author of the bestselling “Beating the Street” and “Learn to Earn.”
Best How-To: The Simple Path to Wealth
JL Collins’ “The Simple Path to Wealth” started out as letters to the author’s daughter but soon grew into a massive guide on all things money. Among the expansive topics covered are debt, the stock market and how it works, investing in both a bull and bear market, asset allocation, and more. The book even goes into different retirement funds, from a 401(k) to a Roth IRA, the 4% rule, and the all-important f-you money fund.
Best for Debt Holders: Live Richer Challenge
Tiffany Aliche’s “Live Richer Challenge” books have gained mass popularity in recent years and with good reason. This pick helps those with debt get their finances in order so they can start investing and building wealth, tackling everything from money mindset to budgeting and saving to investing.
A personal finance educator, Aliche is also the author of “The One Week Budget." She’s been featured in "Good Morning America," the "Today" show, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and more.
“The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham (view at Amazon) is the best overall investing book due to its detailed take on value investing, the practice of purchasing stocks for less than their intrinsic value. In short, this read shows investors how to make money in the market without taking huge risks. And who can argue with that?
Meet the Expert
Rachel Morgan Cautero has a master's degree in journalism from New York University and more than a decade of journalism experience, most in the personal finance sector. Most recently, she was the managing editor of DailyWorth, a finance-based media destination for women. She’s been published in SmartAsset, Investopedia, The Atlantic, Life & Money, Parents, WealthRocket, and Yahoo Finance.