Free Library for Your Lunch Room: Book Suggestions

Warren Buffet, also a contributor, credits The Intelligent Investor, as a book that changed his life. “Graham's book gave me a bedrock philosophy on investing that made sense... he taught me how to think about a stock and how to think about a stock market.”

A decade ago it may have seemed like printed books were going the way of the dodo. Just like the extinct flightless bird, they were said to be clumsy and no longer suited to a changing environment. But not so fast. Amazon may have sold so many Kindle readers since 2007 that even it can’t keep count, with the e-commerce behemoth quoting somewhere between 20 and 90 million according to an industry market guide. Yet, paper books have their uses too. And lunch may be one of the more important ones.

Estimates place the number of office workers who typically eat at their desk at about  40 %. That habit may be thought of as beneficial for productivity, but it is one that is facing increasing scrutiny from the health industry. Many health and wellness folks suggest that employees step away from their desks at lunch. Why? Reasons include: eating lunch at your desk encourages overeating; increases screen time/eye strain by staring at a computer during lunch; decreases motion and increases total time seated; increases stiffness and sore joints; and may lead to burnout and isolation. Due to the health benefits of stepping away for lunch, there are now many companies that encourage their employees to step away from their desks or workspaces and use a shared kitchen.

The lunch room may also be a great place to help educate those employees about retirement and financial literacy. How so? Simply add a Free Library to an available shelf and encourage employees to borrow a book at lunch or for a coffee break. Here’s a list of a few great books and what people had to say avout them to help employees learn more about the benefits of saving for retirement.

The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham with commentary by Jason Zweig. Warren Buffet, also a contributor, credits this book as one that changed his life. “Graham's book gave me a bedrock philosophy on investing that made sense... he taught me how to think about a stock and how to think about a stock market.” Some readers may find that it isn’t a great beginner book. Others note that it covers the basics about the behavior of the market and keys to determining the value of stocks.  According to reviewer Patrick O’Kelley, “Graham's sage advice, analytical guides, and cautionary tales are still valid for the contemporary investor, and Zweig's commentaries demonstrate the relevance of Graham's principles in light of 1990s and early twenty-first century market trends.”

The Wealthy Barber: The Common Sense Guide to Successful Financial Planning, by David Chilton. Reviewers credit The Wealthy Barber as providing the understanding and nuance to personal finance that lectures and slide shows couldn’t deliver. One reviewer on Goodreads notes that “The book distills complex concepts into financial suggestions that are relatively simple to follow.” Another commented that Chilton presented a “boring topic in a conversational format … [and] makes personal finance accessible to anyone and everyone.”  Instead of presenting information in straight facts and figures, the book follows a fictional approach with characters who have financial concerns listen to advice by a local barber. Each of the characters in their late 20s to early 30s and the concerns they present, from owning a small business to being a new parent, is relatable.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street, by Burton G. Malkiel. This book takes on the dot com crash as method of discussing portfolio management. It focuses on the beginning of investing, setting up a portfolio and beginning the process and walks through the idea of a life-cycle of investing.  Malkiel approaches returns, types of investment products, REITs, money market accounts, and tangible assets (like real estate and precious metals). One reviewer noted “There is enough math and logic to make it interesting combined with enough plain prose and logical advice to make it important reading.”

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Michael Lewis. Better known now as a movie starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, John Magaro and Margot Robbie. The author is also known for his book-to-movie Moneyball. Like the third book on this list, which uses the dot com crash as a lesson in investing, The Big Short focuses on the housing bubble crash to discuss investing and markets.  One reviewer on Goodreads noted “just as he made the story of finding new ways to measure the performance and value of baseball players in Moneyball interesting Lewis also manages to make his explanations of things like credit default swaps readable.”  

Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, by Phil Fisher. First published in 1958, the current edition adds new perspectives by Fisher’s son Ken in a preface and introduction. Warren Buffet says that “Philip Fisher is among the most influential investors of all time.” Others call Fisher “the king of qualitative analysis of stocks.” Fisher’s approach to investing focuses on the items not often reflected on a balance sheet: management, sales force, employees and research, to help determine long term growth and companies to invest in for a lifetime.  

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