I have read over 500 books on trading, psychology and human performance. There were great ones, downright bad ones and a few were life-changing.
Here is a list of the best of the best.
Although I have shifted most of my personal library to Kindle books, I still have many of these physical books. That is how much these books mean to me.
This is not your typical list of trading books. The usual suspects are here, but I've found some amazing trading books that don't get the attention that they deserve. In addition, I have included some of the best books that I have found for optimizing trading psychology and performance optimization.
Best Trading Books
By Jack Schwager – This is the book that started it all for me. I think that it is one of the best books on trading for beginners because it gives you a broad introduction to trading, in an entertaining and inspirational way.
You will see how many of these Traders started out with nothing and through sheer determination and smarts, became some of the best Traders in the world, in some cases, managing billions of dollars in assets. Find out what makes them tick, their huge failures and how they finally got to where they are now.
The Traders interviewed in this book include: Bruce Kovner, Richard Dennis, Paul Tudor Jones, Michel Steinhardt, Ed Seykota, Marty Schwartz, Tom Baldwin, and more! [Learn more…]
By Jack Schwager – Packed with the same insights and inspiration as the original Market Wizards, but with new crop of successful Traders.
One of the most educational sections of this book features conversations with some of the original Turtles. If you aren't familiar with the Turtles, then see Way of the Turtle below. For me, it was the first time that I realized that even though a group of people were taught the exact same trading system, they would usually have entirely different results.
This book is packed with many other similar lessons and is one of the best trading books to read.
My favorite Traders in this book were: William Eckhardt, Linda Raschke and Stanley Druckenmiller. [Learn more…]
Trade Your Way to Financial Freedom
By Van Tharp – This is a book that you must read.
I read it early in my trading journey and it changed how I looked at trading and traders. Before reading this book, I didn't know if it was possible to trade for a living.
But as I read through the chapters in this book, I started to believe that is is possible.
…and that in itself is the first step towards trading mastery. [Learn more…]
By Curtis M. Faith – In a famous trading experiment by Richard Dennis and William Eckhardt, a group of (mostly) non-traders were taught a form of trend following.
Dennis believed that anyone could be taught to trade successfully. Eckhardt thought that trading came from an innate gift.
Thus began the most famous experiment in trading history.
Learn what happened, directly from one of the Traders in the experiment. [Learn more…]
By Art Collins – This one is not as well known as some of the other books on this list, but I really enjoyed it. I believe that books about Trader experiences and psychology have much more value than books that just talk about entries and exits.
Don't let the cheesy cover fool you. In the same vein as the Market Wizards books, this book focuses on the bad things that happen in trading and how these otherwise amazing Traders met their match in the markets. In these Trader interviews, you will learn what led to these massive blow ups and how these traders came back from them. [Learn more…]
The Playbook: An Inside Look at How to Think Like a Professional Trader
By Mike Bellafiore – Wondering what professional traders do on a daily basis to improve their skills?
This book takes you through the routines and training programs at the SMB Capital trading desk and how you can use these techniques at home. One of the most important trading strategies that Mike talks about in this book is the idea of building a trading playbook.
These are your go-to setups that you have tested and analyze on a daily basis.[Learn more…]
By Richard Smitten – Seriously, forget about Reminisces of a Stock Operator. Since that book is supposedly based on Jesse Livermore anyway, why not just read the real biography?
If you want to find out how Livermore traded stocks (in his own words), read: How to Trade in Stocks.
Livermore is considered one of the best stock traders of all time, but I actually think that he was one of the worst traders of all time. Sure, he made millions and had a crazy mansion. But he also lost all of his money on several occasions and ended up committing suicide.
I recommend this book because it is a case study into why we need to keep our psychology in check. It is also an amazing glimpse into trading history. All of the best stock market trading books cannot teach the valuable lessons that you will learn in this book. [Learn more…]
By Walter Peters and Alex Nekritin – Looking for simple trading strategies that actually work? This book is at the top of my list of best currency trading books. The trading strategies in this book strip away all of the trading indicators that are present in most other trading systems.
More importantly however, Walter has built an active community around these trading strategies and has proven time and time again that these methods work, if you put in the work to master them.
I consider this one of the most influential Forex trading books ever written.[Learn More…]
How I Made $2,000,000 in the Stock Market
By Nicholas Darvas – This book is just plain fun…but you do learn some valuable lessons. This is one of the best books to learn the stock market or trading any market, for that matter.
Darvas was a world famous Dancer who had no stock market experience. But he ended up turning $10,000 into $2,000,000 in 18 months. How did he do it?
I think you will find his method surprisingly simple. It is a great lesson in not overcomplicating your trading system.
This book is also a great inspiration for those of you who think that you need a fancy degree to do well in trading. Not so. [Learn More…]
By Bill M. Williams – If you are comfortable with an aggressive trading system that adds to winning trades, then this just might be one of the most aggressive systems ever.
But there is a method to this madness. Over the years, Bill has pioneered several trading indicators and has taught many students how to use them successfully.
Like any other system, this is not for everyone. But if you like being and aggressive trader, then this book could give you some ideas. Learn how to trade this method in this book. [Learn More…]
By Ed Ponsi – This is another book that provides solid Forex trading strategies. Learn strategies like: The Boomerang, The Round Trip, The Squeeze Play and more.
What I like most about this book is that it explains everything very thoroughly. Some trading books can glaze over basic, yet important, concepts because the author assumes that it is too elementary to include. I talk about it more in this review.
But Ed does a great job of covering everything and adding a bit of personality into the mix. Trading books in general can be a little dry, but Ed makes his book much more interesting. [Learn more…]
By Charles MacKay – I read this book a long time ago, but it was very influential in my trading career and is a must read book for any trader. It showed me very early on that what the crowd does is always wrong. In order to make money trading, I would have to make my own decisions and many times, go against what everyone else is doing.
Besides it being a great trading lesson, it is very interesting from a historical point of view. MacKay talks about events such as Tulipmania and the biggest financial trading bubbles in history.
The key is that they all end up the same, so you have to learn to identify them before it is too late. [Learn More…]
The Day Trader: From the Pit to the PC
By Lewis Borsellino – The thing that I like the most about this book is that is shows us that we have to be ready to adapt to change.
Lewis was already a successful futures pit trader. But then the game changed. As pit trading started to get phased out, in favor of electronic trading, he realized that he need to adapt, or his livelihood would soon go away.
There are also some great tips on day trading psychology and strategies that you could only get from a true trading veteran. His path had its ups and downs, but learn how he figured it out. [Learn More…]
Trading Price Action Trends: Technical Analysis of Price Charts Bar by Bar for the Serious Trader
By Al Brooks – If you want to geek out about price action trends, this THE book to read.
Al goes deep into the characteristics of a trend and more importantly, how to profit from them.
Remember that there are basically three types of technical chart patterns that traders trade: trends, reversals (countertrend) and breakouts from ranges. This book covers the first topic, but Al has two other books that teach the other two patterns. I would recommend getting all three, unless you are set on one method.[Learn more…]
By Igor Toshchakov – I really liked this book because it gets you think about patterns in the market and how to exploit them. His techniques are laid out very logically and are easy to follow. It is a great Forex strategies book.
If you are looking for strategies to backtest, look no further than this book. Even if you don't use any of the trading strategies in this book, you get some great ideas on how to look at the markets and formulate trading strategies.[Learn more…]
Books on Trading Psychology
The best books for traders are not limited to books that are only about entries and exits. Trading psychology is actually a more important factor in your trading success. These books will help you overcome fears doubts and other hangups that limit us as traders.
By Robert Greene – Trading is a skill that you have to master.
This book is a tour de force on the process of becoming a master at anything. There are many in-depth historical case studies that show you what it really takes to succeed.
Many people mistakenly think that practice is the only thing that we need to become a master. That is actually only a small part of the process.
There are many social, psychological and interpersonal elements that you have to consider. Failing to take them into account will slow down your progress and may lead to your ultimate failure to reach your goals. Don't make the same mistakes as some of the most brilliant people in history, read this book. [Learn More…]
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One
By Joe Dispenza – I've read a lot of books in spirituality and I'm sure that you have too.
But all of the books that I have read were too far on the mystical end of the spectrum and left me with a lot of doubts. After reading this book however, I finally understood what those other books were trying to teach me.
Joe Dispenza does an amazing job of joining spirituality with science. He has helped me understand why we get stuck in habits that don't help us and more importantly, how to break those patterns.
This book gave me the specific exercises and guided meditations that I needed to make major upgrades to my trading psychology. I believe that everyone who wants to make a change in their life should read this book. [Learn More…]
Trade with Passion and Purpose
By Mark Whistler – There are exactly zero trading systems in this book. But it is probably the most underrated trading book I have ever read.
Mark delves into the trading psychology behind what it takes to become a successful trader. While many aspiring traders are on the Trading Silodrome of trading frustration, traders who can figure out their ideal trading psychology, are the traders who usually find a breakthrough.
This book gets into topics such as: Emotional intelligence, overcoming adversity Morita Therapy and more. To drive these concepts home, Mark also inserts interviews with professional traders. [Learn more…]
By Juel Anderson – This has been one of the most influential books in my life…no joke. Originally titled Poker, Sex and Dying, this book is the result of Anderson's experience as a funeral home worker, dating service operator and professional poker player.
During the course of these jobs, he gained extensive insight into human nature because these jobs expose the best and worst of people. As a result, he formulated a few basic categories of personalities. His assessment of my personality was spot on. I talk about this in my complete book review.
This book basically allowed me to embrace what was going on in my own mind and become a better person and trader. [Learn More…]
By Mark Douglas – This is another book that doesn't really need an introduction, but it HAS to be mentioned. It is on the top of a very short list of excellent trading psychology books. Here's the description from Amazon:
“Douglas uncovers the underlying reasons for lack of consistency and helps traders overcome the ingrained mental habits that cost them money. He takes on the myths of the market and exposes them one by one teaching traders to look beyond random outcomes, to understand the true realities of risk, and to be comfortable with the “probabilities” of market movement that governs all market speculation.” [Learn more…]
By Napoleon Hill – This is a book that I think everyone should read.
Hill was commissioned to do a study of some of the most successful businessmen in history and this book is a result of what he discovered.
Find out why this is the most recommended book when it comes to the business mindset and adopting a “knack” for getting money.[Learn More…]
By J. Paul Getty – If you have ever been to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, you will truly understand a small piece of what Getty was able to achieve in his lifetime. I was amazed, to say the least.
The important distinction between this book and most of the other books on this list is that the other books teach you how to get rich. This book will teach you how to be rich. The distinction is that you need to adopt a rich (or abundant) mindset, long before you ever make money.
Once you get yourself into this state of mind, nobody can take that away from you. Find out how Getty recommends you do it. [Learn More…]
By Wallace D. Wattles – This book was recommended to me by one of the people that I interviewed on my podcast.
It is similar to Think and Grow Rich, but presented in a slightly different way. It is an easy read and you could probably read it in a day.
However, I would recommend that you reread it a couple of times because the concepts can take some time to set in. The idea of accumulating wealth is foreign to a lot of people and if you want to succeed in trading, you will need to become comfortable with it.
This book can help. [Learn More…]
By Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – The key to excelling at anything, is to get into a state that is sometimes called “the zone” or “flow.” Sure, you have to practice and develop the skill.
But what leads to those times when we are just on fire? You know, when you just can't miss. All of your trades just seem to work out. It would be great to understand how you can get into that mind space more often.
In this book, Csikszentmihalyi (say that three times fast) breaks down what being in the flow actually means and how we can get to that state more consciously. This book can get a little technical at times, but it is a fantastic look at what it takes to get in the zone and perform at your best. [Learn More…]
By Steven Kotler – This is one of my favorite human performance books of all-time. It is an in-depth study of how some of the greatest extreme sports athletes of our time have made quantum leaps in their sports, something that has never been seen before.
Understand how these “slackers” have risen to elite athletic status and how you can use similar psychological strategies to succeed in trading.[Learn More…]
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