The Elements of Investing
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The Elements of Investing

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  332 ratings  ·  55 reviews
A timeless, easy-to-read guide on life-long investment principles that can help "any" investor succeed

"The Elements of Investing" has a single-minded goal: to teach the principles of investing in the same pared-to-bone manner that Professor William Strunk Jr. once taught composition to students at Harvard, using his classic little book, "The Elements of Style." With great...more
Hardcover, 154 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by John Wiley & Sons (first published 2009)
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If you only read one book, ever, about investing, make it this one. A slender volume, I read it today in one sitting. I picked it up on the recommendation of Bill McNabb, the CEO of Vanguard Group. Anyone who's talked to me for more than 90 seconds about finances knows that I am an unabashed Vanguard fan.

The author Burton Malkiel is most famous for his book "A Random Walk Down Wall Street" which basically posits that asset prices move randomly and defy prediction. I saw him at a conference rece...more
This book is perfect for the person who has no clue. I have just stepped into the investment world myself, and can barely ever get past the first sentence because I don't understand the vocabulary. It is like a whole new language, and this book is the perfect introduction. Everything is explained simply and gives you a basic understanding and a good list of warnings. Once you finish there is a nice list of other books you can read. Every word written in backed up in some way, and if the authors...more
Patrick Neylan
As the authors themselves state, this book is short and simple and can be read in the time it takes to watch a football match (less, if your idea of football is the American kind). Most investment books run to 400 pages, and are ideal for the dedicated, knowledgeable investor. Some people have castigated this book for its simplicity, but there is a place for it.

The best lesson for investors is that the market is smarter than they are and that simple activities, including saving that is funded b...more
Mar 10, 2012 Philip rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those looking for simple investment advice, particularly those just beginning.
Malkiel and Ellis combine their investment experience and share the basic "elements" of investing with us, inspired by the same concept Shrunk and White used to streamline key writing principals into the book Elements of Style. Their main concepts are: 1) Save, and save NOW. 2)Index your stocks and bonds (their main theory is that as a long-term investor it's virtually impossible to "beat the market," so buy mostly low-cost index funds instead of large numbers of individual stock shares. 3)Diver...more
It wouldn't take much of a magnet to hold this pamphlet to your refrigerator door. Malkiel and Ellis promise to keep it simple, and being men of integrity, they have kept their word. If you've read anything else at all by these two investment pioneers, then you'll not find anything new or especially surprising in this book. It's value lies in its convenience, since it distills their basic tenets -- save early, shun credit card debt, invest in index funds, use your company's 401(k), open an IRA -...more
Jan 28, 2010 Kentridge marked it as to-read
Chapter 1: Save
This is the chapter I wish I could drum into my daughter’s head: if you could start saving and investing early in life and keep it up you’ll have no financial worries. As it happens, Canadians can start saving at age 18 with the new TFSAs. Since most teenagers are unlikely to come up with the maximum contribution of $5,000 by themselves I suggest all the parents out there fund at least the first year on their behalf, marking the event with a copy of The Elements of Investing.
Jeff Walden
Mar 18, 2012 Jeff Walden rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people not familiar with personal finance
Malkiel (of A Random Walk Down Wall Street: Completely Revised and Updated Edition fame) and Ellis present the very basics of investing in a short, compact form. And I do mean very basics. Anyone more than slightly informed about personal finance will likely be familiar with everything in this book: save money, cut your expenses, don't have credit card debt, invest your money, don't try to beat the market, use index funds, hold onto them for the long run. (Maybe I missed something in there, but...more
Thurston Hunger
Of the many ways I need to grow up, taking better care of my financial health even tops taking care of bodily health. The book as advertised can be read in about two hours, and conceivably even quicker if you skim through for the indented recaps.

Thanks to Todd for pointing this one out to me, and his assessment that this would be a great book to read in your 30's is true. Spread out risk! Across companies (full-market mutual fund, if not full-market, full-world)...and across types of investment...more
Todd Nemet
Xmas 2009 present. This is one of two excellent overviews of investing that were published this year. (The other is The Investor's Manifesto by William Bernstein.) Malkiel is famous (at least in our house) for writing A Random Walk Down Wall Street, and co-author Ellis wrote a book I've been meaning to read, Winning The Loser's Game.

The two of them teamed up to write a simple book on investing, a la Strunk and White's Elements of Style. It's a very simple book that covers a lot of topics succinc...more
Allison Arthur
I got The Elements of Investing from the library, but I'm definitely going to have to purchase a copy and give it a permanent home on my office bookshelf. Investing outside of my 401(k) has always intimidated me, but now I feel ready to dip my toes in the water and see how it goes. This book is full of great tips and guidelines, and I can't wait to put them to good use!
Ken Kugler
This book is a must for those who would like to understand investing. It is a easy to read book that does not speak so far above you that you have to keep a dictionary around. Burton Malkiel speaks to you, not above you. Even the title tells you it will be easy to read. He took the title from the Elements of Style and applied it's simplicity to investing. He breaks down investing so even if you do not really understand a lot of terms you will walk away feeling empowered and ready to read more.
Unless you're a you're a financial genius who never worries about the performance of your investments, I highly recommend that you read this little book-- it will do wonders not only for your state of mind regarding your current investments, but also in helping you invest more intelligently in the future (hint: it's far, far simpler and easier to do so than you probably think it is). It's a shockingly quick and easy read (150ish pages, written in "plain English"; takes only about three hours to...more
So great! Inspiring for someone who knew nothing about investing! I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn about investment. I already have a list of people who I plan to lend it to!
Shubham Agarwal
Demystifies stock investing.. must read book for everyone
This is a good short overview of the basics, as the subtitle "Easy Lessons" implies. It's a good starting point for a young adult.

However, if you already know the basics, you are unlikely to learn anything new. If you know you shouldn't carry credit card debt; if you know you should spend less than you earn; if you know you should diversify and use index funds and rebalance ..... then you already know what this book has to say. Still, it is certainly worth a skim, or as a gift for a high school...more
A short decent book on investing stressing three major themes: 1) Saving, 2) index investing and 3) tax efficiency.
Robert Malkiel (Random Walk Down Wall street) and Charles D. Ellis (Winning the Loser's Game) are adamant proponents of the efficient market hypothesis (EMH) and the book should be read with this in mind.
The advice given is solid for the average investor or just for anyone who wants to fret less about savings and investing and just want to get it over with and move on.
I love small concise books... I read through this in a little over an hour. Granted, much of the terminology was familiar to me and that helped me to speed through faster.

5 chapters... Save, Index Funds, Diversify, Avoid Blunders, Keep it Simple. Distilled down to the essentials but not seeming to lack in detail. This is a book that cleared a lot up for me concerning investing and I feel much more confident in the subject.

Definitely a book to buy and read again.
A simply excellent book. Short, readable, understandable and filled to the brim with common sense investment strategies which will keep you focused on the long term. Whether you are a novice investor (as I am) or a professional money manager, I dare you to not find this book immensely useful. If you have teenagers about to go off to college, put this book in their hands and demand them to read it.
I love how concise this book is. No frills, no gimmicks, just to the point. Some great advice is given in addition to re-pounding in the basics. Being in the early stages of investing (really, just in the mode of thinking of my what my investing game plan will be) I appreciated Melkeil and Ellis's simplicity and found it easy to understand. I'll definitely be taking their advice on with me.
Jul 18, 2010 Art added it
Probably the most basic, truthful guide for the unsophisticated individual investor to avoid the major pitfalls of investment decision-making. Its title is a genuine effort to be as practical an investment guide as the legendary "Elements of Style" of Strunk and White was in the art of clear writing in English. Anyone who needs to invest their hard earned savings must, must, read this book.
This is my strong recommendation for the beginning investor. It's a quick read - no more than 2-3 hours - but cuts through a lot of the FUD out in the market to lay out the key points every investor should know. And it's authors are world class - Malkiel and Ellis have written some of the most famous investing books out there. This book just condenses it down into its key points.
Well, nothing too new to learn from this one. "Save money by not drinking $4 lattes." Oh, really? Indeed, I already do almost everything they recommend. They do, however, talk about making safe long-term investments in stock indexes, which I hadn't heard much about before. So for that the book was useful, but otherwise it's more of the same.
Concise to the point of virtually being a really long pamphlet, this book lays out all you really need to know about investing in my opinion, including an important point about having a good attitude about saving and exhortations to not follow fads. A good first book for people who procrastinate about this stuff.
Sara Pratt
Awesome overview of investing, especially when saving for retirement. There's not a lot new if you already know to invest a lot early, diversify, index, and ignore the market, but it's a great review of the basics. This book would be especially suited for someone starting out with investing.
Not my favorite subject, but necessary to know about nonetheless. It was understandable- even for someone like me who is not inclined toward the investment world. I liked the explanations of behaviors and temptations investors react to. Also liked that it motivated the reader to save.
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This book was a helpful and concise look at investing, and it has led me to adjust what I'm doing about saving for retirement. The book does a fairly good job of simplifying a complicated topic and gives some very concrete suggestions.
I liked it about as well as I could like a book about investing. It was really short, basic, and straight-forward, which is perfect for me. I learned about index funds, rebalancing your portfolio, and other good financial stuff. :)
Rich Williams
It's an excellent concise, condensed version of what you find in books written by Bogle and others. If someone were to only read one book on investing, this would be a good one. It's very easy to follow as an audio book.
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“Predicting the stock market is really predicting how other investors will change estimates they are now making with all their best efforts. This means that, for a market forecaster to be right, the consensus of all others must be wrong and the forecaster must determine in which direction-up or down-the market will be moved by changes in the consensus of those same active investors.” 1 likes
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