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Top 20 Trading Books for Beginners

forex trading books for beginners
About the author
Seasoned macro trader, managed billions from the Credit Crunch to COVID-19 and everything in between. Traded most assets you’ve heard of and a few you haven’t, and still alive to tell the tale. A student of history, markets, and psychology and a lover of risk and weirdness.

Table of Contents

What I’m about to share is not just a list of the Top 20 Trading Books for Beginners; it’s a toolbox you can dip in and out of when you need it, a sister article to our mistakes piece because many of these books deal with the drivers of or the results of mistakes. None of these books are for dummies. Some might seem difficult at first but stick with it. I still go back to these books from time to time; think of them as foundations rather than just for beginners.

“The key to Warren Buffett’s success is buying wonderful businesses at fair prices, then at the end of every cycle buying wonderful businesses at wonderful prices.”

Wrong. The key to Warren Buffett’s success is that he reads all day long.

I get it, I really do. Who has time to read these days? Maybe you have a day job, a spouse, kids, or maybe you’re just too busy living life to read. I’ve been there, and sometimes I fall back into it. But if you take one thing away from this article, let it be the value of reading.

Even if you forget all the books here, if you just think for a few moments about how reading might make your life better, then you’re on the first step of the ladder. Whether that ladder leads to a career or hobby in Forex, or a job at a hedge fund, you’ve got to start somewhere. Every house needs a foundation. If you can take the time to read through this article, and maybe even one or two of the books mentioned, you should be well on your way to building a framework to achieve your goals.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and it’s not just focused on Forex. Some of the books might sound advanced, and no doubt there will be many you won’t understand if you’re starting from zero. But they all offer something, and sometimes it’s good to mix in some tough stuff with the cotton candy.

I’ve tried to avoid the “FX for Dummies” type titles; you can find that sort of thing easily enough on Investopedia and similar sites. In doing so I have included some books that you may not of heard of, all are available at this point in time but of course that might change. Use the list as a jumping off point you may well find other interesting books recommended by your store of choice as you browse these. That’s the great thing books they are the ultimate rabbit hole.

I have read almost every book here, and I own or plan to buy the others so there is some overlap with my Antilbrary which grows faster than my 5yr old and in a similar way constantly reminds me of my ignorance. But that’s a topic for the future for now let’s get stuck into the present…

1: A History of Gold and Money 1450-1920

OK yes this is a history book, yes it was written before most of you were born but if you trade FX your trading money, (you knew that right) its history is relevant to your interests. This book also neatly covers the history that we skimmed over in our FX article. Maybe not a cover to cover read but it a great one to have on hand to dip into now and again.

Throughout the course of human history, the desire to possess gold has served as a primary catalyst for war, conquest, societal strife, and global exploration. From the times of Croesus in ancient civilizations to the opulent dynasties of Renaissance Italy, and from the initial European expeditions to Africa, America, and Asia to the frenzied gold rushes of the nineteenth century and the subsequent financial crises, Pierre Vilar poignantly illustrates how the insatiable greed for gold has shaped and organized the very fabric of our world.

2: Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk

Did you know zero is a recent invention, what’s that you did well you will love this book because its full of that sort of stuff.

But seriously for me this is a cover-to-cover book, even If your new to finance I think this story will resonate. Risk is something we all take every day we step out of bed and this is its story. The author takes the view that understanding risk marks the evolution of man I’m not sure I’d agree, I think we are all instinctively wired for risk, and going by some of the blow ups over the years we are some way to taming it… but a fascinating read all the same. Something for everyone here.

Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk delves into the historical roots of probability and risk management and their influence on financial instruments and human actions. Peter Bernstein sheds light on the significance of taming risk as a key concept that sets modern times apart from ancient eras. This captivating exploration portrays the intellectual journey that emancipated humanity from relying on oracles and fortune tellers, thanks to the invaluable tools of risk management at our disposal in the present day.

3: A Man for All Markets: Beating the Odds, from Las Vegas to Wall Street

Ed Thorp is the OG, this guy has seen some serious action and it’s all in this book, he has an engaging writing style and tons of stories to tell. Probably one of those freaks of nature, don’t read this and think you will emulate the guy, but he has plenty of great advice and it’s a fun read. Another cover to cover, dare I say it even beach/poolside book.

Edward O. Thorp’s extraordinary journey is nothing short of remarkable. From humble beginnings, he defied the odds to become an esteemed professor at MIT. Along the way, he invented card counting and even developed the world’s first wearable computer. Astonishingly, Thorp conquered the casinos of Las Vegas, leaving them in his wake with his mastery of blackjack and roulette. But his achievements didn’t stop there. He went on to become an acclaimed author and a powerhouse in the hedge fund industry, forever changing the landscape of Wall Street.

4: The New Market Wizards: Conversations with America’s Top Traders

I could have put any one of Jack’s books in this list, I mean I could have put them all they are that good. You see a lot of dudes trying to emulate this now on YouTube interviewing “traders”, but they don’t have Jack’s magic and they sure as hell are not wizards.

 I highly recommend getting the whole series, reading them then read them again. It’s not quite as useful as having the great and the good of finance on your WhatsApp… but I have a few and they never reply to messages anyway. For me this title is perhaps the highlight but they are all gold.

‘Reflections with America’s Leading Traders’ presents readers with valuable insights into the tactics and mindset of accomplished traders in the finance industry. As part of the esteemed Market Wizards series authored by Jack Schwager, this book encompasses interviews with some of America’s most prosperous traders, granting readers a peek into their unique trading styles and strategies.

5:American Default: The Untold Story of FDR, the Supreme Court, and the Battle over Gold

Yes, another history book! This picks up where the first book in our list leaves off. When I wrote the FX intro piece I realised most online accounts of this period really only skim the surface, some are downright wrong and include fake images like this. Everyone that trades markets should know a little bit of their history, if you trade FX markets then this history is very relevant indeed. If nothing else it’s an example of how the government can decide to pull the rug at any point and change the rules. Maybe those guys with the tinned food and ammo in the basement are on to something.

The book ‘American Default: The Untold Story of FDR, the Supreme Court, and the Battle over Gold’ offers a thorough examination of the historical background, key individuals involved, and the consequences of the US default in 1933. Sebastian Edwards presents a captivating narrative of the economic and legal turmoil that engulfed a nation already grappling with a global financial crisis.

6:Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street

One of those books on the list I have not read, but hey Bill Gate’s says its great, I’m not sure if that’s a positive or negative but a very smart guy I know recommended it (not Bill) so that’s good enough for me. These sorts of books are ubiquitous today, but this guy came long before Michael Lewis and he writes about a time most have forgotten. You certainly won’t read about it in a blog. So go ahead pick it up and learn something new, I’m off to order it now, what a great quote btw…

“Evidence that people are selling stocks at a time when they ought to be eating lunch is always regarded as a serious matter.”

The $350 million Ford Motor Company disaster known as the Edsel, the rapid rise of Xerox, and the scandalous events at General Electric and Texas Gulf Sulphur all share a common thread – they represent defining moments in the history of iconic companies. These stories, still relevant today, offer valuable insights into the complexities of corporate life.

7: Managing the Dollar – From the Plaza to the Louvre

Check out that cover, and only 2 Amazon reviews, this is some under the radar knowledge right here and as I write copies are available to buy.

 Allow me to digress for just a moment this is a fantastic book on an important subject, but I also included it because there is a perception that all the knowledge in the world is on the web and has been indexed by Google. You made your way here, so I assume you know better, but I have always been fascinated by things that have been forgotten over overlooked.

As an example, try finding some of the texts that were circulating on dial up bulletin boards in the 90’s, ok maybe don’t search too hard some of that stuff is sensitive these days but you get my point. Sometimes out of print books contain information that’s not contaminated by today’s fast food information culture and increasingly complex morality set. If nothing else buy this for that old school cover, leave it on your coffee table/desk, and impress the neighbours/boss….you might learn a thing or two along the way.

Published four years after the Plaza Agreement, “Managing the Dollar” serves as an initial analysis of the finance ministers’ policy efforts in 1985. Through interviews and immediate analysis, the article sheds light on the various forces at play and the contrasting opinions among policymakers, ultimately highlighting ways to enhance collaborative economic integration. This piece is being republished to commemorate the 30-year anniversary of the accord and to complement a new long-term retrospective.

8: Managing The Dollar: Insider’s View of the Federal Reserve Board

This one is a little more recent and picks up where the last left off…if you’re paying attention you might see a pattern here 😊.

As we mentioned elsewhere central banks are the big beasts of the forex world and they don’t get much bigger or beastlier than the Fed. You simply cannot get too much insight into how they and other central banks work. Now part of the challenge is they seem to be making it up as they go along these days but that’s no reason not to know about the how and the why of what they do. I’m maybe not a book to read by the pool with a daquiri or a cold one but an essential if you ask me.

Managing The Dollar: Insider’s View of the Federal Reserve Board provides readers with valuable insights into the inner workings and decision-making processes of the Federal Reserve Board.

9: Money: The Unauthorised Biography

You know how people say you can’t judge the quality of a wine by its label or beauty is only skin deep, they are wrong right, so I’m going to call this one because I love the cover.

You can think of all kinds of hidden messages here depending on what you care to call a male chicken but either way, great topic great book. Read it….

I’ll admit it I get drawn to books that tell you about what we thought we knew was wrong, now I’m aware this is an easy construction and can be a lightweight strategy, but this book is legit.

Again a book about the history of money and you can’t get too much of that, plus it has a Cock on the cover

Money is a widely accepted medium of exchange that is used to facilitate the buying and selling of goods and services. It serves as a unit of account, a store of value, and a medium of exchange. While the conventional belief suggests that money evolved from barter, this idea is flawed.

Money: the Unauthorised Biography challenges this notion and offers a different perspective on the origin and function of money. By delving into the hidden history of money, this book unveils the truth behind its existence, its sources, and its mechanics.

10: Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

If this is the first you have heard of this book, well you haven’t seen too many lists like these, I make no apologies for including it as it’s perhaps the first book written on trading.

 It’s an entertaining read think Great Gatsby crossed with the Big Short. The author’s story is an instructive and ultimately tragic one. A book to read, and read again every couple of years, each time you will take something a little different away from it, boats against the current and all that.

First published in 1923, “Reminiscences” is a fictionalized account of the life of Jesse Livermore, a securities trader. Despite its age, the book still provides valuable insights into the world of trading and speculation. In Jack Schwager’s “Market Wizards,” “Reminiscences” is quoted as a major resource for experienced and new traders alike. Schwager interviewed many traders who highly recommended the book as a learning tool. The book chronicles Livermore’s journey, starting from day trading in the “New England bucket shops” and progressing to become a market speculator, market maker, and market manipulator. Eventually, he finds himself on Wall Street, where he repeatedly makes and loses his fortune.

11: Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction

What if we could improve our ability to predict the future? What indeed, this book I hope needs no introduction an instant classic on release and one I think to read try to learn from then come back to when you fail miserably. We all think we are far better at predicting the future than we are, this bias can have major consequences in trading. Unless you are lucky enough to be one of the super forecasters as described in this book then you will need some strategies to help offset that bias. It’s all in here, this is an accessible introduction to a very complex but essential field.

Everything we do involves making predictions about the future. Whether it’s buying a new house, changing jobs, designing a product, or getting married, our decisions are influenced by our expectations of how things will turn out. The problem is, we’re not very good at it.

12: What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars

Another on the list that I have read but I think covers an interesting area, this vibes well with our article on mistakes, as mistakes go Jim’s was a rather large one. Looks like an entertaining an honest reading of a rapid ascent and an even faster fall, not an uncommon occurrence but not everyone has the will or ability to write well about it.

Jim Paul had a remarkable journey, going from a small town in Northern Kentucky to becoming the governor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. However, he tragically lost everything – his fortune, his reputation, and his job – due to his excessive economic hubris.

13:When Genius Failed

Coming in at No 13 on our list, this book tells the story of how the luck ran out for some of the smartest people on the planet.

Another book I hope you have heard of or even read, proof that even when you have a plan and a few Nobel laurates things can still go wrong, and boy did they go wrong for LTCM. This is another one of those airport/beach/pool books an easy and entertaining read but will some real insight and lessons around hubris and risk blind spots.

When Genius Failed is the cautionary financial tale of our time, the gripping saga of what happened when an elite group of investors believed they could actually deconstruct risk and use virtually limitless leverage to create limitless wealth. In Roger Lowenstein’s hands, it is a brilliant tale peppered with fast money, vivid characters, and high drama.

14: The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution

So, I think I have mentioned before no one can really predict the market, well Jimbo here might just be the exception but who knows because anyone that’s worked for him is sworn to secrecy and I guess they have been paid so well, why would they snitch. Plus, if Jim can predict the markets, I guess he can do other stuff too so best not to cross him.

But back to the book, I really enjoyed this book maybe because there is such a legend built around the guy and his fund. It’s a fascinating story, and it does make the whole thing a little more human.

Will reading the book help you emulate his achievements I very much doubt it, these guys are what LTCM might have become but therein lies the rub, success is often as much about luck and timing as it is skill. Have all the talent and skill in the world but launch at the wrong time or get caught on the wrong side of a crazy move and your toast. Read it and weep, or use it to fuel your ambition the choice is yours my friend.

Jim Simons is widely regarded as the most successful money maker in modern financial history, surpassing the achievements of iconic investors like Warren Buffett, George Soros, and Ray Dalio. However, his strategies and the workings of his secretive hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, have always remained a mystery. Journalist Gregory Zuckerman, a respected veteran of the Wall Street Journal, finally delves into the enigmatic world of Simons and provides a detailed account.

15: Beat the Forex Dealer: An Insider’s Look into Trading Today’s Foreign Exchange Market

Another new book for me but Wiley Trading is a solid series, and I’m intrigued to see if he walks the talk in the blurb below, if it delivers then it’s a book you should have in your arsenal. I think I mentioned before that the majority of books that proport to tell you how to trade do nothing of the sort, this one claims to be the real deal. Once I have read it, I will update this entry, but in the meantime have a look yourself.

“Beat the Forex Dealer” covers the day-to-day workings of the FX market and exposes the unethical practices that take place. It offers traders proven techniques to avoid falling into dealer traps and develop winning trading methods. Learn from an industry insider the truth behind practices like stop-hunting, price manipulation, trading against clients, and the realities of “no dealing desk” brokers.

16: Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts

Book number 16 on our list of the top beginners trading books and our first female author. I’m not sure if that says more about my library than our society, but its a brilliant book and writing this has inspired me to do a follow up post on female authors.

Small book big impact, Annie crushes it with this book, the first time I read it I saw instant applications within both my team, my process, and my life. I think I read this one in a day or two, I probably do her a disservice but it’s a bit like Michael Lewis writing Thinking Fast and Slow. A subject that can become dry and academic constantly brought to life here, and for any trader this one cuts right to the chase. Essential reading.

Even the best decision doesn’t always lead to the best outcome. There are factors beyond our control, like luck and hidden information. So, to achieve long-term success and avoid unnecessary worry, it’s important to think in terms of probabilities. How confident am I in my decision? What are the different possible outcomes? Which decision has the highest chances of success? Am I in the unfortunate 10% where a strategy that normally works 90% of the time failed? Or did I succeed due to luck rather than making a great decision?

17:Thinking, Fast and Slow: Daniel Kahneman

Thinking fast, a book I hope needs no real introduction, thinking slow… a book that has probably had less impact that it should have done given when it was published and how important the topic is. I recommend you read this in close order to Annie’s book maybe even read Her’s first. At times the author can slip into an academic style that turns some people off, but stick with it, even if you find it a bit dry, this book is pure gold.

Improving your decision making under uncertainty is hard, really hard, if it was easy people wouldn’t get Nobel prizes to write about it, so don’t expect implementing any of this to be easy but recognise its essential.

Why do we make the decisions we do? Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, known as ‘the world’s most influential living psychologist’ according to Steven Pinker, has revolutionized our understanding of human behavior with his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”

In this book, Kahneman distills his life’s work and explains that there are two ways in which we make choices: fast, intuitive thinking and slow, rational thinking. He reveals that our minds often trip up due to errors, biases, and prejudices, even when we believe we are being logical. However, he also provides practical techniques that can help us improve our decision-making skills. This profound exploration of the wonders and limitations of the human mind has had a lasting impact on how we perceive ourselves.

18: The Disciplined Trader: Developing Winning Attitudes

Another one that sits in my antilibrary, I’m not sure how I missed this one as it pushes all my buttons on trading psychology and being written before this kind of thing was on trend. I recommend it because I’m ordering it, and it covers how to handle emotions when trading. I guess back in the day you couldn’t mention the word emotion in the same sentence as trading, so they used psychology but make no mistake this book and your trading is all about emotion.

In this book, Mark Douglas explores how the mental factors that help us function effectively in society can become psychological barriers in trading. By delving into the development of negative attitudes, this book prepares readers for a thorough “mental housecleaning” of deeply ingrained thought processes. Moreover, it provides guidance on how to cultivate and apply attitudes and behaviors that go beyond psychological obstacles and ultimately lead to success.

19: The Hour Between Dog and Wolf

Such a good title I had to pick this book, I’m not sure I agree with all the authors assertions or assumptions, but I won’t bias your experience read it for yourself and see what you think. The topic at play here is a super interesting one.

Shortlisted for the 2012 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award and the Wellcome Trust Book Prize, this book by neuroscientist and former Wall Street trader John Coates is both startling and unconventional. It takes us into the natural environment of bankers and reveals how their biochemistry has a lasting and significant impact on our economy.

20: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

When I first discovered this book in my teen’s, I was disappointed to find the title was not all that literal. Back then I used to pass the time digging through seemingly obscure titles on my parent’s bookshelves, and this was one of the more accessible ones. Nothing at all to do with trading, everything to do with life, but people make markets, so ipso facto this is a book about trading.

I can’t think of a better conclusion than that so happy reading!