The Valhalla Book Club: Stock Market Reading List for Active Traders

Most lists of “Stock Market Books” will be filled with stuff like “The Intelligent Investor” or “Security Analysis” by Benjamin Graham which are supposed to be great books (I haven’t read them) but:

  1. aint nobody got time for that
  2. can be dated in some aspects (written before Options were traded on Wall Street)
  3. extremely dry or challenging to read

Here’s a reading list of recommended books that are either enjoyable reads, or they provide good market history, or data-driven, market-level analysis. They may not directly make you a better trader but can expand your knowledge in ways that do help with trading, IMO.

Note: I’ve only included books which I’ve read in full, which means there are no textbooks listed here. However please do contribute and post textbooks or other books you recommend.

Novels and Casual/Easy Reads

These books read like novels (or they are novels) and you can get through them pretty quick.

Liar’s Poker, Michael Lewis - the first “Wall Street degeneracy” book about the author’s experience in the 1980s in the booming Bond trading market. For those of you that don’t know the bond market is much larger than the Stock Market and it “props up”/makes the stock market possible.

Dark Pools, Scott Patterson - absolute must-read for anyone interested in the rise of algotrading, dark pool trading, and the stock market’s transition into the digital age. Explains HOW and WHY dark pools came to be in the first place.
Hint: it’s not some evil hedgie ladder attack factory that the Redditard Apes would have you believe.

The Big Short, Michael Lewis - y’all know what this one is. If you liked the movie you’ll like the book.

Think and Grow Rich - written by a guy claiming to have detailed John D. Rockefeller and his family’s “method” to getting rich. There’s some nonsense woo-woo, pseudoscience and questionable claims you’ll have to stomach and fight through. It’s also more of a self-help book than a market book, but it’s worth reading.

Dense and or Semi-Technical Books

These books do not assault you with equations or advanced math, but are more dense and require active reading.

Fooled by Randomness, Nassim Taleb
The Black Swan, Nassim Taleb
These are two separate books, but part of the same “trilogy” describing how “tail events” which are extremely rare by traditional/frequentist statistics, are much more impactful than the models expect, both in the markets and the “real world”.
Very readable even if Taleb is one of the most pretentious MFs out there. Reading these books gives you get the sense he walks around huffing a gas tank filled with his own farts.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street, Burton Malkiel
tl;dr a lot of interesting beginner-to-intermediate data analysis which ends in a very bogleheads’ style “ETF/Index and Chill” message. But still pretty interesting.

Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, Philip A. Fisher - the techniques here are more applicable to someone living in the 1960s who was already rich and well-connected but it has some decent sections on how to analyze the future outlook of a company.

Math Grind Shit

The Misbehavior of Markets, Benoit Mandelbrot
Written by the godfather of Fractals and Complex Systems analysis himself, Benoit Mandlebrot. Gives you “true insight” into market dynamics from a fractal analysis point of view, it’s a totally radical look on the market compared to your Econ 101 “Guns and Butter” analogies.

Why Stock Markets Crash, Didier Sornette
This is like if you took the above Mandlebrot book, and then rewrote it in an ultra-dense, math-heavy, near-textbook style. I wish I’d read this while I was in grad school, because I had to tap out since my math was too rusty. If you’re in a math-intensive university program, or maybe you’re just good at math, give this one a look. If you don’t want to be bombarded with equations, avoid. Very fascinating stuff.


Cool list @oarabbus, thanks for compiling.

In the Novel section, as an addition to The Big Short, I’d also recommend ‘The Greatest Trade Ever’. It’s a grandiose click-bait title, but it tells the same story from John Paulson’s firms perspective.

I’d also recommend Flash Boys for another insight into HFT, and The Spider Network as a pretty interesting but editorialised look at the LIBOR fixing investigation.

1 Like