The most important investment you can make is in yourself.
That’s one of the numerous
Born in Nebraska in 1930, the “Oracle of Omaha” is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate of which he
So do you want to know more about how Buffett became so successful? If so then there are plenty Warren Buffett books (both by and about him) to choose from.
But which one should you read first?
How These Books Are Rated
The answer largely depends on exactly what you are trying to accomplish. Are you interested in Buffett’s life story, or are you trying to absorb some of his business knowledge? Are you looking for a comprehensive tome detailing his strategies and milestones, or just a fun and entertaining read?
Today, we’ll review five of the most popular books about Buffett and evaluate them based on these five categories:
- How much does it tell us about the life of Warren Buffett?
- How much does it tell us about Warren Buffett’s business strategies?
- How much previously-unknown information does it tell us about Warren Buffett?
- How timely and relevant is the information contained in the book?
- How easy or difficult is it to read?
The Warren Buffett books we will be focusing on here are:
- The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder
- Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything by Carol J. Loomis
- The Warren Buffett Way: Investment Strategies of the World's Greatest Investor by Robert G. Hagstrom
- Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist by Roger Lowenstein
- The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America by Warren Buffett and Lawrence Cunningham
The Top 5 Warren Buffett Books
Click on any title to read more about the book on Amazon.
The author, Alice Schroeder, was given unprecedented access to the billionaire, who answered countless questions on a wide range of topics. The title of this 832-page book is based on Buffett's observation about life: “Life is like a snowball. The important thing is finding wet snow and a really long hill.”
- Arguably the most comprehensive collection of the life of Warren Buffett
- Details several of the important lessons he learned throughout his business career
- Conversational writing makes it enjoyable to read
- Doesn’t provide specific insights into how Buffett amassed his fortune and the decisions he made that helped him do it
- Often strays into areas which may not interest the reader, such as the estrangement from his wife and minute details about places and events
- It’s a very long book and tends to drag in places, which may discourage people from completing it
This book approaches Buffett from the perspective of Fortune magazine, given that the author, Carol Loomis, wrote one of the first articles about the business mogul for that publication. It’s a collection of some two dozen Fortune pieces written by and about Buffett between 1966 and 2012. The title is from the way Buffett views his job (he “tap dances to work” every day).
- Provides a clear picture of Buffett’s genius and business acumen
- Explores a diverse array of topics and subject matter
- Chronological format helps give context to his decisions and shows his evolution as a businessman
- Given the age of many of the articles, much of the information in the book is outdated
- Little new information about Buffett or unique insights into his business practices
- Complex jargon and prose make it a bit difficult to read
As the subtitle implies, Robert Hagstrom’s book focuses mainly on the investment strategies made by Buffett and how they resulted in large returns (or not). This best-seller chronicles the stock choices made by Buffett throughout his career and demonstrates why he is one of the brightest business minds in America.
- Focuses almost exclusively on Buffett’s business strategies toward picking companies with great potential
- Formatted in a way which breaks down the tenets that underpin Buffett’s approach to the stock market
- Written for a mass market audience, so it’s easy to read without a lot of complex industry verbiage
- Most recent edition only published in 2005, so much of the information may not be applicable to today’s market
- Appears to read as a self-help investment guide rather than a biography
- Uneven pacing makes it difficult to plod through in places
Journalist Roger Lowenstein penned this book about Buffett’s rise to the billionaires’ club, beginning when the young Buffett amassed the equivalent of $53,000 – when he was 16 years old. Buffett also touches on the Oracle of Omaha’s philosophies and accomplishments, business and personal relationships, and views on social awareness and philanthropy.
- Outlines Buffett’s method of investing in simplistic terms, which makes it easy for the reader to embrace
- Shows the evolution of Buffett’s strategies from his teen and early adult years until his time as a billionaire
- Easy to read for people who have some level of knowledge about the business world
- Doesn’t provide much of an understanding of Buffett’s investing secrets
- Hones in on personal details which may be uninteresting for readers who are hoping to glean knowledge about Buffett’s business acumen
- Runs for 512 pages, making it a cumbersome read
Lawrence Cunningham acted as more of a collator than an author for this book, which is a collection of portions of the annual letters that Buffett has written over the years as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. The subject matter of these essays ranges from bubbles and economic crises to valuation models and basic tenets of business.
- The third edition of the book offers information on more timely and relevant information pertaining to the modern markets
- Contains a large amount of useful information for investors
- Offers plenty of homespun sayings, quips, and bits of wisdom from Buffett that makes it an entertaining read
- For Buffett fans who have already read the mogul’s annual letters, the book provides no new insight
- Cunningham doesn’t put any of the essays’ information into any context
- Since the letters date back decades, much of the information is obsolete and irrelevant
What Is The Best Warren Buffett Book?
It’s pretty clear that these five Warren Buffett books each offer something different to their readers. So unless you simply want to compile a collection of Warren Buffett books, you probably won’t benefit from purchasing all five of them.
As for the Essays of Warren Buffett, most of the information can be downloaded from the Berkshire Hathaway website for free.