Investing books are an often-looked place to receive personal finance education at an affordable price.  After all, what other forms of investment training would provide 3 – 5 hours of content for just $15 or less? You can pick them up in your local bookstore, grab them from an online book provider, or even download them to your e-book reader or mobile app instantly for reading on the go. 

I’m a big advocate for widening your investment knowledge and expanding your investment comfort zone by using investing books to add new ‘modules’ of knowledge to your repertoire. 

Modular learning

Investing in the stock market and managing your own portfolio can feel like an entire world rather than a discrete list of ideas and concepts you need to understand.  However, like any complex subject, from rocket science to microbiology, it’s possible to organize the knowledge into logical sections and categories, and to move through that content in a thorough and methodical way, ticking off as you go.  In this way, you are effectively creating your own curriculum of content, and progressing through a self-directed course of sorts. Buying and consuming investment books as required, to download that knowledge into your brain and storing it for later. 

How to create your own investing book curriculum

The best place to start is to pick the best investing book which aims to be totally comprehensive. It needn’t contain every investing fact in the world, so long as its scope and breadth are as wide as possible. Consider simple, reference-type investment books that are thick and designed to totally introduce a beginner to the stock market. This book won’t be your curriculum. As explained earlier, you’ll be using other investment books to flesh out the ‘modules’ of your course. The most important part is the contents page of the reference book. This will give you a logical way to carve up the art form of investing. 

An example of such a contents page might be:

  • A brief history of the stock market
  • What are stocks and shares?
  • The risks and returns from investing
  • Creating an investment portfolio
  • Making trading decisions
  • Financial planning for the long term

If we look at this contents page, it gives us a way to structure our own curriculum:

  • The history (what came before us?)
  • The risk and returns of investments (what are the characteristics and features)
  • Investment portfolio (how are investments combined to achieve optimal returns)
  • Decision-making (the psychology of investing)
  • Financial planning (how to evolve your investments into the future)

If you step back and consider – this is not a simple list of facts. Each section is almost like an entirely separate way of looking at investing in general, a different perspective. 

This is why your own personal course might require several books to feel complete. It’s highly unlikely that a single title (whoever long) would really address each of these perspectives – authors tend to set out with the objective of covering one or a maximum of two of these. 

Customizing for your needs

Of course, the biggest advantage of leading your own financial education is that you can tailor it to topics you’re personally interested in, or feel will be more appropriate. 

For the interest of completeness, I would encourage you to at least give a cursory read of topics you don’t think will be entirely relevant. After all, you can’t be sure until you’ve grasped the essentials, as to whether it could be useful to your personal circumstances. 

However, an example of good tailoring might be to an active or passive investment style. Quite early on in your education and investing experience, you will probably subscribe to one style or the other. From this point onwards, it’s probably of little value to dive too deeply into a strategy that you don’t plan on implementing. 

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