Suggested Reading

In one of my job interviews for a position in the financial markets, the interviewer remarked “Hmmm…University of Chicago MBA; you went to the right school!” I had to correct him and told him to look closer as I had a BA—not an MBA. He then noticed I had a BA not in business but in Molecular Biology and was puzzled that I was quite conversant in matters regarding world financial markets. He wanted to know how I obtained the equivalent of an MBA without the formal training. I had to be honest and told him I was self-taught. I buried myself in the library and learned a new career and did so by reading as much as I could.

Moreover, the financial markets, in my opinion, are the best teacher you can have. You can read about investing via annual reports, financial research, books and magazines. You can take classes and ask questions of brokers and financial advisors. But in all honesty, nothing cuts to the heart of business education like investing your hard earned capital in the markets.

The list that follows is part of the journey I took to gain the knowledge to invest and subsequently work in the financial markets. After 25 years studying the markets I am still learning. I encourage all of you to NEVER STOP LEARNING. Some of these books are legendary and on everyone’s must read list. Others have nothing to do with investing, but will educate you on items like the Affordable Care Act or other intriguing topics in the health care/pharmaceutical field. All can be purchased on Amazon or ordered at your local Barnes and Noble. I have read most of them and found them to be highly educational and interesting.

— David Lerman

Investing

First, any serious discussion of investing must include Warren Buffett. He is the most successful investor of the last 100 years and one of the great capital allocators of our time. There are at least a two dozen books on Buffett. These five are the best in my opinion. The books by Lowenstein and Schroeder are the seminal works on Buffett.

  • Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist by Roger Lowenstein
  • The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder
  • Of Permanent Value: The Story of Warren Buffett by Andrew Kilpatrick
  • The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America by Lawrence Cunningham

A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton G. Malkiel
A terrific read about efficient markets. This book helped give rise to the passive investment strategy movement known as indexing. Instead of trying to beat the market as measured by the S&P 500, “join” it by buying the entire index. Index funds and ETFs allow one to do this for virtually no cost. And the kicker, over the long run you will beat many professional investors.

Stocks for the Long Run by Jeremy J Siegel
Great book by Wharton Professor Jeremy Siegel about merits of a longer term investment plan. Great detail with statistics and charts by a professor that is highly regarded.

One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch and John Rothchild
One of the greats, Peter Lynch who ran the famed Fidelity Magellan fund to one of the best track records in active management (active management is stock picking – or trying to beat the market – as opposed to passive management which buys an entire index such as the S&P 500). His mantra: Invest in what you know. And don’t just buy a company’s products; perhaps you should invest in the stock. Lynch also wrote a sequel to this book called Beating the Street, also with John Rothchild.

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
A classic for fundamental based investing and Warren Buffett’s favorite book.

Security Analysis — Graham and Dodd (revised by Sidney Cottle, Roger Murray and Frank Block.)
The seminal work on fundamental analysis. This classic text is used at top business schools around the world. For those that don’t have the temerity to tackle this very long and detailed book, I suggest The Intelligent Investor mentioned above.

The Money Masters by John Train
A classic book that highlights nine great investors. It was this book that turned me on to Warren Buffett. Of the success I enjoyed as an investor, I would have to say that Buffett’s teachings have had the most influence on me. In fact, my net worth would be considerably less without him since I have coat-tailed many of his investments. The book also talks about Larry Tisch, Paul Cabot, and Philip Fisher, Ben Graham, John Templeton, T. Rowe Price and a few others. Read it!

How To Buy Stocks by Louis Engle and Brendan Boyd.
For the beginner. As a biochemist/molecular biologist right out of the University of Chicago, I went from poor college student to a nice salaried job. I wanted to learn how to invest and it was this book that taught me the basics.

John Bogle on Investing—The First 50 Years by John Bogle
From the founder of the Vanguard Group. They laughed at him when he suggested starting the first index fund in the 1970s. The Vanguard 500 Index fund went on to be a huge success and beat the majority of money managers over that time span. Bogle’s mantra: COSTS MATTER!! His book is a treasure trove of information for investors of all levels.

Investment Biker by Jim Rogers
I love this book partly because I rode motorcycles as long as Jim has and partly because Jim Rogers is one of the smartest guys in the world when it comes to investing. He and George Soros ran one of the most successful hedge funds in the world and had a track record that blew away the competition. A few years later, Rogers went out on his own. This book chronicles a motorcycle trip he took to nearly every country in the world. His brains and perspective make this a worthwhile read. Rogers opened my eyes to investing beyond the borders of the United States.

Street Smarts—Adventures on the Road and in the Markets by Jim Rodgers
A sort of updated version of his world travels since much has transpired from when he published Investment Biker. He has a tremendous knowledge of the international scene and believes so much potential rests in the Asia/Pacific region, that he moved his entire family to Singapore from NYC.

Healthcare Investing: Profiting from the New World of Pharma, Biotech, and Health Care Services by Les Funtleyder
Basic book on investing in Healthcare stocks of all types. While I haven’t read this, it might provide some good background information for the novice.

Unconventional Success—A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment by David F. Swensen.
Swensen runs the Yale University Endowment—the third largest U.S endowment after Harvard and the University of Texas. Swensen’s track record at the endowment is legendary and he spawned the “Yale Model.” The strategy produced superior returns over the years and made the endowment the envy of institutional investors. The Yale Model suggests that large investors, such as endowments and public pension funds, can achieve superior returns by shifting a significant portion of investments away from traditional stocks and bonds and into carefully selected hedge funds, private equity, real estate, and other alternatives.

Common Stocks for Uncommon Profits by Philip Fisher
Another classic by a Wall Street legend. Yes, this goes on the must read list too. Many in the investment world say Buffett is an amalgam of Ben Graham (his mentor) and Philip Fisher.

The Little Book that Beats the Market by Joel Greenblatt
One of the best in the “Little Book Series”. Quick read on a flight or a couple of train rides. It focuses on the simplicity of certain investing strategies. Greenblatt has one of the most amazing track records himself.

Poor Charlie’s Almanack—The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger
Buffett’s sidekick at Berkshire Hathaway and in his own right an investment legend. I have not read this one yet. But I would imagine you’d walk away glad that you did. If you ever get the chance to go to the legendary annual meetings of Berkshire Hathaway in Omaha, you will see Buffett and Munger together and it’s a hoot. And the wisdom gained is priceless.

The Outsiders—Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success by William N. Thorndike, Jr.
At a Schwab Impact Conference I attended in 2014, an exhibitor was giving this book away. It’s a catalogue of some of the greatest business managers in U.S. corporate history. Featured are: Henry Singleton of Teledyne, Katherine Graham of Washington Post Co., Tom Murphy of Capital Cities Broadcasting and of course, Warren Buffett and others. I believe that investing can teach us a great deal about business. This book proves the opposite is also true—that great businessman can teach us about investing!

Health and Medicine

The Emperor of All Maladies—A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee
This Pulitzer Prize winning book is one of the best I have ever read. It chronicles the history of cancer from ancient times to the present. It’s loaded with stories; some sad, even tragic, and others that are heartwarming and miraculous. Mukherjee himself is a great writer and a physician. They even turned it into a three part documentary on PBS (the DVD is available on Amazon). This book is so good, that In Sickness and Wealth will provide a free copy to all subscribers in 2016.

HER-2 The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer by Robert Bazell
The fascinating story of Genentech, Revlon and Dennis Slamon and the development of Herceptin.

Billion Dollar Molecule – The Quest For the Perfect Drug and The Antidote—Inside the World of Big Pharma by Barry Werth
The Billion Dollar Molecule is a great inside look at the start up years of Vertex Pharmaceuticals and The Antidote is Werth’s follow up 20 years later. With access to Vertex’s top management and scientists, the reader gets a front row seat to the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat that comes with developing a new drug.

The Biotech Primer by the Biotech Primer Inc.
A very good, basic level book on the fascinating world of Biotechnology. If you are going to put any money in Biotech, this book would be a valuable place to get some schooling.

America’s Bitter Pill—Money Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Health Care System by Steven Brill
Another great read that discusses the saga of Obamacare and the story of our dysfunctional healthcare system in the United States. When you read this book, you will wonder how the law ever got passed. There are dozens of great stories of all the backroom deals and the successes and failures of those involved in getting the Affordable Care Act off the ground. My favorite part is when President Obama has to call in the experts from Silicon Valley to fix the site that was an abysmal failure in its first few months.

Genentech—The Beginnings of Biotech by Sally Smith Hughes
The history of one of the first Biotech companies. While now owned by Roche Holdings, Genentech’s history is fascinating as they went from no marketable products to three of the largest selling cancer drugs in history in only a few decades.

New Drugs: An Insider’s Guide to the FDA’s New Drug Approval Process for Scientists, Investors and Patients by Lawrence Friedhoff
On our website, we have a summary of the FDA’s drug approval process and how it affects investors.e that want a deep dive into this all important process, give it a read.

Textbooks

For those really wanting to go deep and have the current thinking on biotech/molecular bio and cancer these are your books. Caution: A degree in biology or chemistry would help big time as this is not your typical book for your summer reading list. Moreover, the books will require you to empty your 401k plan as they are very expensive.
  • The Biology of Cancer by Robert Weinberg
  • Molecular Biology of the Cell by Bruce Alberts, Alexander Johnson et al.

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