Below is a curated collection of business and finance books, ranging from light background reading to reference volumes. These should interest anyone pursuing a career in finance. We have categorized the books when they apply to a more specific audience, e.g., those interested in entrepreneurship or oil and gas.
There are so many garbage business books out there; they taint the whole genre. Many people think they don’t like reading about business or finance. We believe they just don’t like reading bad books. Neither do we.
The list below consists of books that we enjoyed or thought worthwhile. Not all of them are page-turners, but we label the drier reference volumes as such.
If you have suggestions, please reach out: staff at MultipleExpansion.com
We’re always looking to grow our collection.
- Background Reading
- Startups & Entrepreneurship
- Financial Analysis
- Oil & Gas
The books below are lighter reads. You will not pick up any technical skills from reading them, but you will get some great stories and background knowledge.
1. Liar’s Poker - Michael Lewis
TL;DR: Old-school trading shenanigans
Fast-paced narrative about 1980s Wall Street. Still a cultural reference today.
2. Flash Boys - Michael Lewis
TL;DR: Rise of the machines + trading
Another fun, yet informative read by Michael Lewis. This book covers the rise of high-frequency trading and the migration from trading pits to algorithms.
3. When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management
by Roger Lowenstein
TL;DR: They weren’t as smart as they thought
Engaging narrative about the meltdown of a prominent hedge fund.
4. The House of Morgan
by Ron Chernow
Chernow brings us the story of J.P. Morgan and his eponymous firm. This is a MUST READ for anyone interested in the history of the financial services industry.
5. Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises
by Tim Geithner
The former Secretary of the Treasury shares his story and the harrowing inside tale of the 2008 financial crisis.
6. The Big Short
by Michael Lewis
The story of the 2008 financial crisis and its root causes.
7. Barbarians at the Gate
by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
It reads like fiction, but it’s the true story of the most infamous PE deal of all time.
8. King of Capital: The Remarkable Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone
by David Carrey and John Morris
The history of Blackstone, from boutique to behemoth, and its founder.
9. The Masters of Private Equity and Venture Capital
by Robert Finkel and David Greising
Nuggets of wisdom from senior private equity professionals.
10. Private Equity: History, Governance, and Operations
by Harry Cendrowski, Louis Petro, James Martin and Adam Wadecki
A dry, but good high-level overview of the private equity industry.
11. Deals from Hell: M&A Lessons
by Robert Bruner
Interesting M&A case studies and disasters.
12. The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs
by William Thorndike
8 unconventional CEOs and their approaches to earning outsized returns for shareholders.
13. Good to Great to Gone: The 60 Year Rise and Fall of Circuit City
by Alan Wurtzel
Interesting story of the rise and fall of Circuit City. Reads like a novel, but contains business nuggets.
Most startup / entrepreneurship books are agile garbage. Below are some great ones.
1. Zero to One
by Peter Thiel
This is a quick read, and Peter Thiel is a unique thinker. Worth a few hours of your time.
2. The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook
by Ben Mezrich
Facebook went from dorm room project to public company in less than a decade. Here’s the salacious inside scoop.
3. Steve Jobs
by Walter Isaacson
Fantastic biography of one of the most iconic modern entrepreneurs.
4. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike
by Phil Knight
Our favorite startup / entrepreneurship book. Phil Knight unveils all the ups and downs of the entrepreneurship journey. MUST READ.
Accounting, financial statement analysis, and valuation are three pillars of investing.
While anyone can learn to make a beautiful DCF, understanding the first principles is crucial. The books below will give you a strong theoretical and practical foundation.
1. McKinsey’s Valuation Handbook
by McKinsey & Company Inc.
A well-written introduction to valuation methodologies and considerations.
2. Investment Valuation: Tools and Techniques for Determining the Value of Any Asset
by Aswath Damodaran
A thorough overview of valuation theory and methodologies. No one is better at explaining the nuances of valuation than Damodaran.
3. The Little Book of Valuation: How to Value a Company, Pick a Stock and Profit
by Aswath Damodaran
A gentle introduction to valuation.
4. The Dark Side of Valuation: Valuing Young, Distressed, and Complex Businesses
by Aswath Damodaran
Seeing a theme? Yeah, Damodaran is pretty much the godfather of valuation.
You need to understand the numbers in order to make good investing decisions. The books below will make you a 10-K beast.
Even for folks more interested in private markets investing, understanding how to tear apart financial statements is key.
1. Accounting for M&A, Equity, and Credit Analysts
by James Morris
For anyone interested in financial statement analysis or investing in public markets, this is MUST READ. It’s relatively short, and for a technical text, it’s very approachable.
Some of the accounting sections are outdated, but this book is still worth its weight in gold.
2. The Financial Numbers Game
by Charles Mulford and Eugene Comiskey
Easy read that examines the financial shenanigans of public companies.
3. Financial Statement Analysis: A Practitioner’s Guide
by Martin Fridson and Fernando Alvarez
The bible of financial statement analysis.
4. Quality of Earnings
by Thornton O’Glove
Learning to think critically about the quality of earnings is an important tool for any investor. This book reveals some common warning signs.
There are hundreds of investing books, but few good ones. Below are the classics:
1. The Essays of Warren Buffett
by Warren Buffett
This is a MUST READ for any aspiring investor or financier.
2. The Intelligent Investor
by Benjamin Graham
The bible of value investing written by Warren Buffett’s mentor.
3. Margin of Safety
by Seth Klarman
Written by one of the most successful hedge fund managers of our time, this is must-have for any investor’s bookshelf.
4. One Up on Wall Street
by Peter Lynch
Peter Lynch is one of the greatest stock market investors. His book is a digestible introduction to stock picking.
It’s difficult to find quality resources for learning about investing, and it’s even more difficult for distressed investing. Below are our favorites.
5. Distress Investing: Principles and Technique
by Martin Whitman and Fernandez Dio
This textbook will give you a solid (academic) foundation in distressed investing.
6. Distressed Debt Strategies for Speculative Investors
by Stephen Moyer
A good complement to the preceding textbook.
They serve as good paper weights and can help if you’re having trouble sleeping.
That said, when you need a solid reference in a crunch, it’s nice to have the answer on hand.
1. Financial Reporting and Analysis
by Lawrence Revsine, Daniel Collins, Bruce Johnson, Fred Mittelstaedt, and Leonard Soffer
Everyone needs an intermediate accounting textbook. This is a good one. If you work through this text once, you will have enough accounting knowledge for any financial services career (besides accounting).
2. Advanced Accounting
by Floyd Beams, Joseph Anthony, Bruce Bettinghaus, and Kenneth Smith
This book covers acquisition accounting and more advanced concepts not in the preceding textbook. Read this book if you want to be able answer colleagues’ accounting questions rather than being merely passable.
3. GAAP Accounting
by Joanne Flood
This is the rulebook. When you see something funky in a company’s financial statements, this is where you go to find the answer.
Don’t try to read it cover-to-cover - you won’t. But it’s an essential part of any finance professional’s bookshelf.
(If you do read it cover-to-cover, we want to hire you. Send us an email.)
If you’re starting in oil and gas investing or investment banking, the jargon can be intimidating. It’s a whole new language in addition to finance.
The volumes below will help you get up to speed quickly.
1. Oil 101
by Morgan Downey
This is the best place to start your oil & gas journey. Even for folks who have been in the industry and want to play catch up, this is a good resource.
2. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
by Ron Chernow
It’s impossible to understand the modern oil and gas landscape without meeting the man who started and dominated the industry. While this biography may not seem directly relevant, it (1) introduces you to an industry great, and (2) it will provide much of the background context you’re missing.
Also, for anyone interested in the history of business, it’s a MUST READ.
3. Investing in Oil and Gas
by Mike May
Full disclosure - this is not a fun read, and in many places the book feels incomplete. We include it in this list, however, because it introduces many important concepts and is oriented towards investors.
Oil and gas is a highly technical industry, and this book helps raise many of the questions you need to advance to the next level.
4. Economic Risk in Hydrocarbon Exploration
by Ian Lerche and John MacKay
This is a more advanced text that introduces investment tools, like monte carlo analysis, and their mathematical underpinnings.
This is a great resource for folks without a background in petroleum engineering, who want a high-level overview of petroleum engineering terminology and concepts.