This is the newest edition of one of the best investing books I've read. I was curious to hear Bogle's thoughts on the recent economic situation, andThis is the newest edition of one of the best investing books I've read. I was curious to hear Bogle's thoughts on the recent economic situation, and his reflections on his sage advice ten years earlier. The last ten years, although totally unprecedented and unpredictable, have certainly borne him out.
This book doesn't actually talk much about the stock market or asset allocation. It talks specifically about the mutual fund industry. This book doesn't give the standard lines about beating the market and picking mutual funds. It's even unique among books about passive investing in that it doesn't talk much about asset allocation and Modern Portfolio Theory.
What it does is incessantly rip into traditional mutual funds, particularly their cost structure. The first part explains all the ways costs matter. I found my jaw dropping a few times during this part. I already agreed with him, and yet, I was astonished. I knew that costs matter, but I had no idea that they mattered to that extent. I used to believe high costs are justified in some cases, but after this book, I really understand that even small differences in cost make an enormous difference long term. Later, the book discusses how mutual funds are organized and how they subtly deceive shareholders. It seems downright fraudulent, and Bogle agrees. All along, he never fails to offer an alternative: index funds.
I was grateful that the book ended with a mini autobiography, and an explanation of how Vanguard works, which is the company he founded. This man is a crusader, a hero, practically a saint among the investing community. He had the guts to stand up against an enormous industry that was complicit in ripping off their shareholders. Bogle was a promising mutual fund executive at a very young age, and he could have increased his fortunes by several orders of magnitude. Even though he certainly did very well for himself, he was clearly more interested in sticking up for the investors than in taking their money. His company, Vanguard, is very unique. They're owned by their fund shareholders, have practically no marketing budget, operate at-cost, and will turn away money if taking it would not be in the best interests of their shareholders....more
This is my favorite book on investing. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning about investing. It's very easy to read, and sometimes evThis is my favorite book on investing. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning about investing. It's very easy to read, and sometimes even reads like a story, and yet still manages to cover all the details. This is an impressive feat, considering that every other decent investing book I've found is a snoozer. I've found books that are easy to read, but they're only easy because they're simplistic. Add to that the tons of misinformation out there, telling you how you can "beat the market."
This book is different. It's crammed with a ton of data, but finds a way to make it interesting. It doesn't slack off on the challenging stuff. It just presents it in a readable way. Funny stories, metaphors, quotes of philosophers, history lessons, and even comic strips are tied in neatly to help support the subject matter, without distracting from it.
Originally written in 1973, this book popularized the "efficient market hypothesis" and passive investing, and helped spawn the index fund industry. The data shows that most actively managed mutual funds perform worse than random selections of stocks. Since mutual funds have management fees and are tax-inefficient, you're better off just investing in the market as a whole rather than paying fund managers to pick stocks. The evidence for this is presented in part two.
Part one is an overview, and a fascinating history of speculative crazes. Part three describes Modern Portfolio Theory, efficient market theory, behavioral finance, and risk measurement, which form the basis for his recommended approach to investing. Part four is a practical guide, a tutorial on how to invest wisely.
So if you've been wanting to learn about investing, to really understand it, invest in A Random Walk Down Wall Street. This is the real deal. It's not a sales pitch, a get rich quick scheme, or "Investing For Dummies." You'll learn a lot, and you'll have fun along the way!...more
Part spiritual memoir, part biography of the Buddha. The first section is the author's journey through Tibetan Buddhism and Korean Zen in his youth, gPart spiritual memoir, part biography of the Buddha. The first section is the author's journey through Tibetan Buddhism and Korean Zen in his youth, growing ambivalent and doubtful as he encountered superstition and dogma. This sets up the second part, where this book gets really interesting. He disects the Pali Canon, teasing out any aspects of the Buddha's teaching that were influenced by the Hindu culture in which it was steeped, and attempts to create a cohesive narrative of the Buddha's life, without myth or mystique.
The author seems to think his secular approach to Buddhism is more novel and radical than it is nowadays in the west, but it really was pretty radical for him at the time. His ironic attitude toward atheism and organized religion, as well as his very pragmatic attitude toward Buddhism, is something that really struck a chord in me. It was so refreshing to read such an objective, while also very personal, exploration of Buddhism, as I am very skeptical and wary of anyone who seems too devout. This book has definitely shaped my approach to spiritual exploration and quelled some of my doubts about Buddhism....more
THIS is the book I've been searching for. I was starting to worry that it would be impossible to find a book on gender politics that wasn't soaked witTHIS is the book I've been searching for. I was starting to worry that it would be impossible to find a book on gender politics that wasn't soaked with ideology and bias. I figured I could just read them all and find my own balance, but it was proving difficult. This book is a much-needed breath of fresh air. This was the book I needed. Exactly this book.
It's written by feminist journalist Cathy Young, who treats the subject with a balance I have yet to find anywhere. She examines all perspectives--the feminist, masculist, and conservative, and shows the ways that they're all correct, or at least make good points, and where they all go wrong. She has a great habit of always mentioning the nuance of a point in parentheses. She seems refreshingly above all the ideology that seems to drive every perspective she examines. It sometimes even made me a little ashamed of not being skeptical enough.
Probably the most important section in this book, for me, was the chapter where she addresses Warren Farrell's arguments, whom I have found frustrating because he makes amazingly fresh and insightful points, only to stretch them too far to the point of exaggeration and hyperbole, thereby losing his credibility. It was the same habit, Young pointed out, that also makes the radical feminists so annoying.
This book is not thorough, by any means. It covers the big subjects: biology, parenting, rape, domestic violence, and sexual harassment. But it's enough to make those of all ideologies of this subject see that the reality is more nuanced than they were led to believe....more
This is one of the pivotal vegetarian advocacy books. Now I understand why. Reading this book made me a vegetarian all over again. My understanding ofThis is one of the pivotal vegetarian advocacy books. Now I understand why. Reading this book made me a vegetarian all over again. My understanding of the issues that led to my decision to become vegetarian is only a fraction of what this book covers. I was truly astonished by what this book revealed. I really understood how so much of the meat industry depends on ignorance and deception.
It starts out by going straight for the heart. It talks about what animals are like--what they're really like, not the popular misconceptions. It really shows just how sentient these creatures are, how they can obviously feel compassion and pain. Then it shows just how awfully these sweet creatures are treated as they're raised for slaughter. It's horrific. Truly, terribly horrific. No living creature should be treated like that.
The next section is devoted to the endless list of health problems that have been tied to excessive meat consumption. He does fall into the fallacy that correlation implies causation, but much of the data presented here was nonetheless persuasive. My favorite part here was the dispelling of the myth that people can't get their protein needs without meat or animal-based foods.
The last section talked about some of the pesticides and poisons used in the raising of animals for slaughter, and the effects these have had on the ecosystem, water, and human breastmilk. But the very last chapter was a disappointment. In its discussion of the environment, it never mentioned global warming and the power of vegetarianism to limit greenhouse gases. It made claims that world hunger could be solved with the efficiency of vegetarian diets, ignoring, as such claims often do, the positive feedback loop of population growth caused as surviving children produce offspring they wouldn't have otherwise produced had they died of starvation. World hunger is insoluable without population control. The last chapter also makes wild claims that our economic woes can be solved with vegetarianism, not to mention world peace.
Nevertheless, this book is a win, overall. I can't imagine anyone remaining a heavy meat eater after reading this book, and I challenge every meat eater to read it, to see all the ways they've been ignorant about what they put in their bodies, and this enormous industry they employ in order for them to do so....more
It's a common understanding in this society that men have more power than women. Feminism went on to show all the ways men use this power to oppress wIt's a common understanding in this society that men have more power than women. Feminism went on to show all the ways men use this power to oppress women. But a common approach is to resent men, rather than understand them, what about our culture makes the sexes interact as they do, or all the ways that men are powerless. Only by understanding this can feminism truly succeed in its mission of promoting gender equity. We must all work together to overcome the tyranny of gender roles, for both sexes. That's what this book sets out to do.
Thanks to feminism, women's complaints have become much better articulated. But, as author Warren Farrell says at the very beginning of the book, "men's questions about women are at the pre-articulation stage: they feel that something's happening that's unfair, but can't quite put their finger on it. Nor do they try very hard to put their finger on it--they're more focused on proving themselves. Yet men seem to feel they're living in an era when women want to 'have their cake and eat it too.' For many men, the age-old Freud-attributed question, 'What do women really want?' is still without a clear answer. And the fear of being accused of being a male chauvinist has made them afraid to ask the questions necessary to get the answers."
From the very beginning, page after page, this book uncovered all of my unarticulated fears, shames, and feelings of powerlessness that come with being male in this society. It explained what about our culture causes this. I was amazed and grateful to finally give voice to these frustrations. It answers questions like, "women have changed--why aren't men changing too?" "Why are men so preoccupied with sex and success?" "Why can't men listen?" "Why are men so afraid of commitment?" "Why do men have fragile egos?" "How can I change a man?" "How can I get him to express feelings?" He answers these questions very specifically, but in a way that honors the frustrations of both sexes. The advice he gives is very sound, and helpful.
This book draws mainly on popular culture and his experiences leading men's groups, which is anecdotal. So it's not very scientifically rigorous. It's also a little outdated, written in 1988. 20 years has brought many changes to our culture that this book leaves out. But nothing in this book has been made irrelevant. In some ways, the issues this book addresses are even worse than they were 20 years ago.
I highly recommend this book to anyone, male or female, who wants to understand gender roles better, and wants a better relationship with people of both genders....more
This is the best nuts-and-bolts investing book I've read. There are a lot of investing books out there that explain how investing works, but they comeThis is the best nuts-and-bolts investing book I've read. There are a lot of investing books out there that explain how investing works, but they come up short when it comes to explaining exactly how to put together an investment portfolio. This book is the opposite. It focuses entirely on putting together a portfolio, explaining what pieces are needed and why, but it assumes the reader has a general understanding.
This book is based on passive investing and Modern Portfolio Theory, so if you're trying to learn how to beat the market or get rich quick, this is not the book for you. It will teach you how to maximize growth and minimize risk in line with the market.
The book has a simple formula in its presentation. It goes through all of the major asset classes and a few minor ones, explains how each of them works, and why they're needed in a diversified portfolio: stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities, and international. Part three shows you how to put these together to build a portfolio that will meet your needs and risk tolerance....more
Just when I started lamenting how seldom I read a book anymore that forces me to re-think my assumptions, The Blank Slate comes along! This is an ambiJust when I started lamenting how seldom I read a book anymore that forces me to re-think my assumptions, The Blank Slate comes along! This is an ambitious book, 528 pages cutting across our entire culture, leaving nothing untouched--politics, morality, philosophy, economics, psychology, history, gender, anthropology, violence, children, the arts, and language.
The premise is that a philosophical invention of the 20th century has created confusion and destroyed common sense, justified by a misunderstanding that it could eliminate racism and inequality. That invention Pinker calls the "blank slate," the idea that we're all born into the world as malleable pieces of clay, completely shaped by society. This philosophy has two corollaries that tend to run alongside it: the "noble savage" and the "ghost in the machine." The "noble savage" philosophy is the belief that our nature, if isolated from our wicked modern culture, is pure and peaceful. The "ghost in the machine" is the idea that each of us has a self that drives the body, existing separately from it.
Sounds harmless enough, right? This stuff is at the heart of many of our political and philosophical debates, with far-reaching implications. Misunderstandings about human nature have been used to justify damaging social policies, disasterous economic experiments, and horrific violence. The blank slate is at the heart of Marxism, for example.
This book meticulously sets up a persuasive argument against the blank slate, in favor of a scientific understanding of human nature, informed by Darwinism, particularly the burgeoning field of evolutionary psychology. It counters misunderstandings about human nature, and dispels fears about what this line of thinking could lead to, most notably the Holocaust. This man's poignant logic is practically flawless. He has a knack for raising excellent points that made me think hard, and question my beliefs, since I too harbored many of the misunderstandings and fears this book addresses. He won me over, big time.
I do wish he'd better addressed the subject of moral relativism and ethical dilemmas. He's arguing for human nature, which is objective and universal. Some thinkers like Ayn Rand take this to its logical conclusion and argue that there are black-and-white definitions of Right and Wrong written in human nature. That leads to the questions of how we can discover these rules, and which authority we should trust to interpret them. Rand says it's self-evident to anyone thinking rationally, and of course she counts herself as such a person, so this is a clever way of electing herself the authority on Right and Wrong. Those who don't obey her edicts are outlaws and should be forced to obey. This ended up creating a cult of personality that still exists among many Republicans and Libertarians, and it creeps me out.
So I still have a fear that the philosophy of human nature can be used to justify such intolerance. Of course, this book also made a strong case that the opposite can be just as terrible, allowing horrific violence to persist in the guise of tolerance....more
This book is a purely practical application of concentration and mindfulness to everyday life. It discusses focusing on process, not the end result; tThis book is a purely practical application of concentration and mindfulness to everyday life. It discusses focusing on process, not the end result; taking things slowly and staying in the present moment, rather than getting lost in thoughts. Treat everything in life as a practice, of gradual and constant improvement, with no fixed destination. Treat mistakes as information to help you make adjustments, rather than proof that you're a failure. Those kinds of thoughts do nothing but get in the way of progress. At just 100 pages, this book is one of the most concise and to-the-point books I've ever read....more
This is the best book I've ever read on communication. It's also one of the best I've read on psychology and spirituality, which are really just formsThis is the best book I've ever read on communication. It's also one of the best I've read on psychology and spirituality, which are really just forms of intrapersonal communication, and this book shows how to do that just as we communicate with one another.
This book is deceptively simple, but by no means easy. Imagine learning to walk for the first time. You could read a book that explains it, literally step by step. One foot in front of the other. But training your mind and body to move in that new way takes years of training and practice. Likewise, training your mind to think about communicating in this new way, takes a lot fo work. It requires overcoming a lifetime of conditioning that is based on coercion, judgment, and punishment.
This book teaches you how to communicate from the heart. The entire NVC process is four steps: observations, feelings, needs, and requests. Everything anyone says or does involves these four things, implicitely or explicitely. That's why the subtitle is "a language of life." Learning to communicate to these four things directly creates the greatest chances for meeting our needs.
Read this book. Then read it again. Then take an NVC class. You'll be amazed how it will transform your worldview and relationships....more
This book was a pivotal tool in my quest to retire early. It encapsulated and confirmed everything I'd learned from my own research, and served as a gThis book was a pivotal tool in my quest to retire early. It encapsulated and confirmed everything I'd learned from my own research, and served as a guide and reference. It's packed with a ton of vital details. It provides an excellent investment strategy and model portfolio, tailored specifically for early retirement; it discusses taxes and how to minimize them; it talks about the withdrawal rate, and provides plenty of charts and tables to show how different withdrawal rates hold up for various time periods.
It also has quite a bit of fluff, but it has a nice way of sparking fantasies about how nice early retirement will be. It talks in great length about the psychological struggles of being retired, which may be an even bigger risk than a stock market tumble. Still, I think a lot of this fluff could have been trimmed, which would have turned this into one powerful little book.
This book tries very hard, probably way too hard, to portray early retirement as a vast grey area, rather than an all-or-nothing proposition. It almost always calls it "early semi-retirement." In nearly all examples, it includes the option to subsidize retirement with little side jobs. I think this is great, because it makes the whole endeavor far more realistic and achievable, but I also think he took it too far. Sadly, I think most people walk away from this book remembering that it's about how to settle for a partial retirement, rather than its real strength, which is the investment, withdrawal, and tax advice....more
This is a fascinating book about anthropology. The book literally is about cows, pigs, wars, and witches, but what this plain title can't convey is hoThis is a fascinating book about anthropology. The book literally is about cows, pigs, wars, and witches, but what this plain title can't convey is how this book is packed with riveting explanations of the mysteries of cultural attitudes toward these four things, or how profoundly relevant solving these mysteries are for understanding our own culture.
Why do Indians worship cows? Many Indians don't even know, but after reading this book's explanation, you'll understand all the historical and economic forces uniquely at work in that country, leaving you certain that it would make sense no other way. This explanation is closely related to the pig hating and pig loving that exists in other cultures. The relationship between tribes and their pigs is inextricably tied to the tribal benefits of war. This leads naturally to explanations of gender politics, as well as explanations for how tribes deal with severe oppression and exploitation. Specifically military-messianism, which leads naturally to explanation of the rise of Christianity, which in turn leads to an explanation for how the Church suppressed these revolts through witch hunting.
So this book steps from one explanation to the next, building each one on the explanations of the last, becoming more relevant with each explanation. The military-messianism and the rise of Christianity alone is worth reading this book for. It explains Christianity historically and anthropologically, based on the writings of Josephus and the Dead Sea Scrolls. This gives a whole different view of rise of Christianity and Christ's original teachings, as a military doctrine, rather than one of peace.
By the time you're done reading this short book about several other cultures, you'll feel like you have a profound new understanding of the fundamentals of our own culture....more