I CAN'T say it's been a great year for investing books. It's
been hard enough to keep up with the gyrating stock market and European crisis.
Fortunately, there are a handful of books that manage to tell good stories or
give you timeless advice. Here are my picks:
1. Get Your Act Together. The Big Shift: Navigating the
New Stage Beyond Midlife by Marc Freedman
If you're hitting the sweet spot between middle age and
retirement, you need to read this book. Freedman is a master at defining what
could be done to make your life meaningful while living the best part of your
"Our culture needs to do more to send signals about
this emerging period, marking its existence and establishing a vision for
it," he writes.
This is also useful for those searching for a working
ecology between work and life.
2. Global Gloom. Boomerang by Michael Lewis
If you can get past Lewis' strange fixation on German
scatology, there are some amusing and tragic vignettes of investors in Iceland,
Ireland, Greece and the US.
A follow-up to his Big Short, the book explores the delusion
that anyone could become a successful investment banker or real estate mogul.
So why did Icelandic fisherman start speculating in currency
markets and conservative German banks start to load up on junk mortgage debt?
All of these crazy moves made sense at the time, even though everyone
eventually got burned. Over-confidence will cook the goose every time.
This multi-layered allegory for the 2008 meltdown is an
3. Income Investing. Bonds: The Unbeaten Path to Secure
Investment Growth by Hildy and Stan Richelson
For years, it's made sense for income investors to look at
individual bonds as a means of boosting cash flow. With yields at record lows
this year, you had to be creative.
The Richelsons present a diversified approach and tell you
everything you need to know in this second edition of a book they originally
published in 2007.
There's absolutely nothing sexy about the Richelson's
strategies, yet you can use their wisdom to protect your portfolio in turbulent
4. Smart Portfolios. The Smartest Portfolio You'll Ever
Own by Daniel Solin
Building on his other Smartest money books, Solin lays out
sensible ways of constructing safe portfolios that are customised to where you
are in life.
As with his other advice, Solin favors low-cost, passive
portfolios that are diversified and tempered for risk.
5. Easy Economics. Grand Pursuit by Sylvia Nasar
It's hard to love a book about economics, so Nasar, the
celebrated author of A Beautiful Mind, tells the story of the most influential
economists of the past 200 years or so.
Although she curiously doesn't start with Adam Smith, there
are rich portraits of leading lights such as Keynes, Hayek, Friedman and Sen
and lesser-known thinkers such as Mayhew and Beatrice Webb.
If you've always been stymied by the subject, this is a
graceful narrative that will give you a full perspective on today's money woes.
By the way, these books make excellent holiday gifts. Enjoy
*The author is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed
are his own.