The 8 Best Options Trading Books of 2020
Brush up on this high-risk investment strategy
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If you're looking to branch out a little in your portfolio beyond stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, options trading is something you might consider. Trading options is an alternative investment strategy that focuses on adding contracts to buy or sell a particular security to your portfolio, rather than investing in the underlying security itself. You can realize gains (or losses) when exercising options.
Options trading can be risky but also lucrative for investors who understand how it works and how to do it effectively in the market. If you're a beginner where options trading is concerned, a good place to start is with learning the basics. If you've been trading options for a while, on the other hand, you may be ready to explore more advanced techniques for investing in options. Or, you could be in the middle between being an options novice and an expert.
Wherever you are with options trading, these books are the best you can read on the subject.
Best Overall: Options Trading Crash Course
If you're getting into trading options, generating some solid returns right away might be one of your biggest motivators. "Options Trading Crash Course" breaks down everything you need to know on trading options and making an income from your investments in a simple step-by-step guide.
This book is specifically written with beginners in mind but by the time you're done reading it, you might feel like an expert. At just 82 pages, it's a pretty quick read but as the title suggests, the goal is to get you from Point A to Point B quickly so you can become an options trader. Think of it as the Cliff Notes guide to options, hitting all the key highlights that can help fuel your success.
Best on Trading Strategy: The Options Playbook
There's more than one way to trade options and "The Options Playbook" offers pointers and advice for investors who are looking for some variety in their approach. Author Brian Overby covers 40 of the most popular options trading strategies, categorizing each one as bullish, bearish, or neutral, so you can decide what best fits your risk tolerance and investing objectives.
This book can offer valuable insight for new and intermediate options traders who are fine-tuning their skills and seeking to maximize profit potential while minimizing losses. Overby doesn't take a deep dive into any one strategy but overall, "The Options Playbook" is a helpful reference to have as you get comfortable with including options in your portfolio.
Best for Beginners: Options as a Strategic Investment
Lawrence G. McMillan's book on options trading is a bestseller and it's widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive options guides on the market. It covers the fundamentals of options, how they work, and why you might consider investing in them, before diving into specific options trading strategies and emerging market trends that could affect those strategies.
"Options as a Strategic Investment" is a great introduction for beginners who are interested in learning how to use options as a hedge in their portfolios to manage market volatility. It's also a must-read for more experienced investors who already understand the market. Though it's over 1,000 pages long, this book is written in a way that's digestible even for the greenest of investors. There are also study guides available if you need a little extra help wrapping your head around some of the book's concepts.
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Best for Advanced Traders: Option Volatility and Pricing
The bestselling "Option Volatility and Pricing" is the book professional traders are often given to learn the finer points of options trading strategies, so it's a credible read. Even if you're not a professional trader, you can still glean plenty of useful information from its pages, including how to manage risk effectively with options trading and how to evaluate options to determine which ones are most likely to perform on par with your expectations, as well as those of the market.
It's an excellent pick for investors who prefer having examples and models to demonstrate different outcome scenarios before making a move. Though it's considered more of a technical read due to its heavy focus on numbers, the book may appeal to more advanced options investors who are looking for a firm theoretical grounding to drive decision-making.
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Best for Pro Options Traders: The Option Trader's Hedge Fund
"The Option Trader's Hedge Fund" offers a slightly different take on options trading, with a focus on how to build your own options trading business. Written by a hedge fund manager and an option trading coach, the book guides readers on how to generate a consistent income by selling options using a strategic business model.
The end goal is to establish your own "hedge fund" with options at the center. It's written with both newcomers and established traders in mind and offers an interesting take on how to manage risk in your portfolio when introducing options.
Best on Options Greeks: Trading Options Greeks
In a trading context, the term "Greeks" refers to various techniques that are used to evaluate an option's position and determine how sensitive it is to price fluctuations. Delta, for instance, measures an option's price sensitivity in relation to changes in the price of the underlying stock or fund. Vega, gamma, theta, and rho round out the options Greeks.
If all of that is Greek to you, then "Trading Options Greeks" is one book you'll want to add to your reading list. Author Dan Passarelli walks you through each of these techniques, explaining them in a way that's easy to understand. While it leans more heavily toward the technical side, this book may be appreciated by experienced options traders who are ready to elevate their portfolios.
Best Intermediate-Level: Trading Options For Dummies
Although there are plenty of great options trading books for beginners, "Trading Options For Dummies" offers a basic, yet comprehensive overview of the subject. Updated with new facts, charts, and strategies, this 3rd edition will help you understand today's markets and evaluate the right options for your needs—showing you how to weigh option costs and benefits, build a strategy, and broaden your retirement portfolio. The title may suggest otherwise, but this reference book is also ideal for intermediate-level investors, too, or those with general trading options knowledge yet want to better understand risk factors, new techniques, and more.
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Best on Futures: Fundamentals of Futures and Options Markets
Futures are financial contracts that require a buyer to purchase an asset, or a seller to sell an asset, on a predetermined date and price. To better understand these contracts, "Fundamentals of Futures and Options Markets" provides a great introduction. John Hull, a professor of Derivatives and Risk Management, uses real-life examples to help you comprehend futures and options markets.
The 9th edition of this book touches on the same points as Hull's previous work, "Options, Futures, and Other Derivatives," but in a more digestible way for general, less finance-savvy readers.