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Sixty-five percent of adults said they think investing in the stock market is either scary or intimidating, according to a 2018 Ally Invest survey. Among their fears? Making the wrong investment, trusting the wrong sources, or not having enough money to invest.
Whether you’re a new investor confused about the best strategy for your fledging portfolio or haven’t taken the investment plunge yet, we’ve got you covered with our picks of the best investing books for beginners.
Best Overall: The Intelligent Investor
Though “The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham was first published in 1949, much of its original wisdom holds true, from the importance of value investing and loss minimization to resisting emotional decision-making when navigating the financial markets. However, the newest edition has been updated with data on modern markets, as well as commentary and footnotes by financial journalist Jason Zweig. It has sold more than a million copies worldwide and has been endorsed by various industry experts and publications, including Barron’s.
Best for Learning the Basics: How to Make Money in Stocks
William J. O’Neil’s bestseller, “How to Make Money in Stocks,” demystifies how to make money while investing, from how to choose stocks that will jump up in price, to picking the best bonds, stocks, or ETFs for your portfolio. The book even covers how to pick up on the market’s current trends—and profit from them, of course. O'Neil is the founder and chairman of Investor's Business Daily, a daily newspaper covering finance, economics, and the stock market.
Related: The Best Investing Books
Best on Real Estate Investing: How to Invest in Real Estate
Investing your money doesn’t always mean purchasing stocks or bonds. Real estate investing is another way to diversify your investment portfolio and make returns. That’s where Joshua Dorkin and Brandon Turner’s “How to Invest in Real Estate” comes in; it includes more than 40 personal stories of how real estate investors made it big, offering advice on how to invest in real estate when working a full-time job, strategies to build wealth through real estate investing, how to fund your real estate deals, and even how to get your spouse on board. The authors are co-hosts of the real estate podcast, "BiggerPockets Podcast."
Related: The Best Real Estate Investing Books
Best on Stocks: The Little Book That Still Beats the Market
“The Little Book That Still Beats the Market” is the aptly-named, updated version of Joel Greenblatt’s "The Little Book that Beats the Market," which was first published in 2005 and sold more than 300,000 copies. It explains to aspiring investors how they can consistently beat market averages by utilizing the author’s rather simple formula of buying stocks when they hit rock-bottom prices. But don’t fret—Greenblatt explains the concepts in simple terms and without jargon. This version includes data on the financial crisis and how the formula performed during that time.
Related: The Best Stock Market Books
Best for Inspiration: The Simple Path to Wealth
If you’ve ever wished your parents taught you a little more about money, the financial markets, and how they work, then JL Collins’ “The Simple Path to Wealth” is for you. This book started out as a collection of letters to the author’s daughter but grew into a comprehensive financial guide. It includes topics like debt, how the stock market works, how to invest in both a bull and a bear market, navigating the many retirement funds out there, and even the importance of having f-you money.
Best on Mutual Funds: Common Sense on Mutual Funds
If you want to invest, then you may need to familiarize yourself with mutual funds at some point. Enter John C. Bogle’s “Common Sense on Mutual Funds," which was originally published in 1999. Keep in mind that a mutual fund is an investment vehicle through which investors pool their money to invest in securities; it's also an easy way to diversify your portfolio for a low price. The book's updated version covers topics from the basics of mutual fund investing to regulatory changes to how to build an investment portfolio with staying power. Bogle is also the author of “The Little Book of Common Sense Investing” and “Enough.”
Best for Young Adults: Broke Millennial Takes on Investing
Erin Lowry’s “Broke Millennial Takes On Investing” is one of the best investing books for beginners for its approach to several questions geared towards millennial investors, like “Should I invest while paying down student loans?” or “Should I use a robo-advisor or an investing app?” This is the second installment of Lowry’s "Broke Millennial" series. Lowry has also appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and on CBS Sunday Morning and has been published in USA Today, Cosmopolitan, and Refinery29.
Best on Strategies: A Random Walk Down Wall Street
You’ve probably heard of Burton G. Malkiel’s “A Random Walk Down Wall Street”—after all, it’s now in its 12th edition and has sold more than a million copies worldwide. It provides an explainer of all major investment vehicles, from stocks and bonds to real estate investment trusts and tangible assets. The updated edition includes a new chapter focusing on behavioral finance, or how our emotions affect our financial behavior and investment strategies. Malkiel is also the author of “From Wall Street to the Great Wall” and “The Random Walk Guide to Investing.”
Best Psychology: Thinking, Fast and Slow
While this New York Times bestseller isn’t a finance book per se, it’s a great exploration into the human mind and the science behind the way we think. Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow” delves into the mind and the two systems that make it “go"; as the title suggests, one is fast and one is slow. These systems affect everything from where we choose to vacation to even how we invest in the stock market. Kahneman is a psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Best First-Person Account: Principles: Life and Work
Ray Dalio’s “Principles: Life and Work” is a first-person account of the author’s financial success and the advice that led him there. It's worth noting that Dalio founded hedge fund Bridgewater Associates in 1975, which has since grown to one of the country’s top funds. This book has an interesting take on management, economics, and investing—that a systematic approach with a set of rules and strategies is the best approach and the clearest road to success, both financial and otherwise.
Benjamin Graham’s “The Intelligent Investor” (view on Amazon) employs a no-nonsense take on important investing principles like value investing, loss minimization, and how to avoid emotional investing decisions—making it a must-read for any beginner.
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.