The Best Books I Read In 2014Submitted by Castlebar Asset Management on December 9th, 2014
I am a huge fan of reading and a book nut. It makes me a better investor and help build what Charlie Munger calls your “Lattice Work of Mental Models”. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite books I have read over the past year.
I first learned about Guy Spier from Atull Gawande’s great book The Checklist Manifesto. Guy’s book focuses on his journey in his professional life and how it shaped his career. He started off with a dream pedigree but his decision to join a Wall Street firm with a dodgy reputation changed his career path. It ultimately lead him on the path to be a leading value investor of his generation. The book does not go into a lot detail about his value investing philosophy but rather the lessons learned along his career. I found his description of his ongoing dialogue and friendship with Mohnish Pabrai to be very interesting. Guy’s portrayal of his $650,000 lunch with Warren Buffet is enlightening and yes Warren did pick up the bill for lunch.
Is the stock market rigged? This book along with Michael Lewis’ interview on 60 Minutes educated the masses on the effects of high frequency trading on the stock market and answered this question. If you lived under a rock in the first half of the year you may have missed this book. I am a big Michael Lewis fan and this book does not disappoint.
I first heard about Dream Big at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. Warren Buffet mentioned it during the Q&A session when asked about Berkshire’s partnership with 3G Capital. This book provides the background of three founders of 3G and their core philosophies towards business investing and lean cost structures. 3G is best known for their takeover Anheuser Busch, Heinz and Burger King.
Greg Zuckerman’s book was popular last year and I finally was finally able to read it over Thanksgiving. The book paints an informative and enlightening look of the history of fracking business. The oil business is filled with interesting figures and The Frackers talks about the four horseman of the fracking business (George Mitchell, Harold Hamm, Tom Ward and Aubrey McClennan).
I am a geek for both baseball and investing books. This book checked both boxes. Joe Peta was a former trader who after an unfortunate accident used his quantitative skills learned on Wall Street towards building predictive models for betting baseball futures. The line “You may have found the holy grail of uncorrelated returns” talking about a hedge fund based on baseball betting should peak any baseball and finance geeks interest.
I reread this book during the World Cup. It is one of my favorite soccer books. Joe McGinnis takes you through a season where the tiny town of Castel di Sangro in central Italy plays in the second division of Italian soccer. This book connects soccer, local culture and interesting characters in a brilliant mix. A review describes it as showing a side of Italy that no travel book will ever tell you about it. That is just about a perfect description.
This summer when the Scottish independence vote started to look like it might be an interesting race it reminded me this book had been on my reading list. The book focuses on Scotland’s significant role in intellectual and industrial development during the 18th and 19th centuries. It also talks about the Scots influence in the early days of America and success of Scots like Andrew Carnegie in the US. Not much talk of Braveheart in this book.
These are my favorites from 2014 and I look forward to having an expanded list next year.
Andrew Comstock, CFA
Disclaimer: The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing.