10 Charlie Munger Most Recommended Books
Decades ago, a young man worked at a grocery owned by Warren Buffet’s grandfather. He earned no more than two dollars for all 10 hours of his shift. In 2021, that very same young man has become one of the wealthiest men in the world, with a net profit of, according to Forbes, more than 2.2 billion dollars. His name, one of Warren Buffett’s most trusted men, one of the icons of Berkshire Hathaway, the one and only Charles Munger.
The rags to riches story that is the life of Charles Munger, the American billionaire investor, businessman, former real estate attorney, architectural designer, and philanthropist, wasn’t built in a day. It was forged upon the foundations of learning, adapting, and evolution. Legends say that both Warren and Charlie spend about 80% of their days reading. The Berkshire Hathaway icon himself has stated that they read about 500 pages of text every day.
Charlie Munger once said. “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time—none. Zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren reads—and how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.”
This quotation has sparked inspiration in many people’s reading habits. He is entirely fitting as an inspiration, being one of the most intelligent men in the world. Much is unsurprising since Charles had always held education in high regard, donating millions of dollars to universities (he’s a significant benefactor of the University of Michigan) and making sure that he does his part to improve communities. He continues to be involved.
In 1997, the Munger family gifted $1.8 million to the Marlborough School located in Los Angeles. Nancy Munger was an alumna from the school. The Polytechnic School in Pasadena and the Los Angeles Y.M.C.A. were also recipients of the Munger couple’s donations.
Charles and his beloved family have long been stalwarts of education, and there are plenty of other communities that continue to benefit from his charitable ventures to this very day. And all these things he can do because of the building blocks of knowledge he invested time in — like books.
Get an inside recommendation on books to read from Charlie himself. Build a foundation with the very same blocks that paved the way for a young man who once helped around in a grocery store to a man who worked his way towards wealth and fortune.
A Matter of Degrees: What Temperature Reveals about the Past and Future of Our Species, Planet, and Universe
“A Matter of Degrees, by a physicist named Segre, is a perfectly marvelous book. Not a book you can go through at 90 mph, but if you parse through it slowly, you’ll get a lot out of it. You’ll get a lot of hours per dollar if you use it right.”
Charlie Munger gave this recommendation out to listeners during the 2003 Wesco Annual Meeting. The book is a synthesis, according to its synopsis, of science, history, and imagination. Gino Segrè, an internationally renowned theoretical physicist, seeks to connect temperature and the very concept of matter and life.
Profound Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity
“Not everyone will like Deep Simplicity. It s pretty hard to understand everything, but if you can t understand it, you can always give it to a more intelligent friend.”
Charlie recommended Deep Simplicity just a year after during the 2004 Wesco Annual Meeting. The synopsis depicts a drought for science and innovation when astrophysicist John Gribbin explores the inner workings of chaos and complexity and its principles.
Benjamin Franklin, Volume 1
“I’m re-reading a book I like – which is Van Doren’s biography of Ben Franklin. I’d almost forgotten how good a book it was.”
This recommendation happened in 1994, during a Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. This was a piece that won author Carl Van Doren a Pulitzer Prize in 1938. The book was a collection of autobiographical writings that included content that had never been published before.
Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story
“… that Enron book is really worth reading because the evil is so extreme. You see people getting sucked in by the evil around them. You just learn so much.”
The 2007 Wesco Annual Meeting was ongoing when Charles shared this recommendation. An award-winning New York Times reporter wrote the book. The story dives deep into the lies, illegal activities, and incompetencies surrounding the Enron scandal that put a presidency in jeopardy, tore down a marketplace and printed its mark on the very soul of Washington and Wall Street forever.
The Path to Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson I
“I loved Caro’s book. I thought it was very well done. Reading his biography on L.B.J. is very important for anyone who wants to view the human condition. L.B.J. never told the truth when a lie would be better. This is the way he went through life. He had a high intellect and extraordinary energy and did a lot of good along with the bad. I’m not sure he didn’t do more good than bad. But I think it’s an appalling life to lie as much as L.B.J. What I said at Berkshire meeting about the robber barons applies here: When he’s talking, he’s lying, and when he’s quiet, he’s stealing.”
Charlie Munger was very vocal in his take on this particular piece of literature during the 2004 Wesco Annual Meeting. The Years of Lyndon Johnson is the premier political biography of an entire generation. It details the birth of the extraordinary drive, energy, and thirst for power that made L.B.J. the unique force of nature.
The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History
“I’ve read all the books on the Great Recession. They’re all good. I find the story of John Paulson [the book The Greatest Trade Ever] to be particularly fascinating. He made a lot of money from entirely legal ways but may have created a lot of trouble for himself in the process. Now every nice young man wants to be him, and since he did it with derivatives, it’s that much worse. His influence has been pernicious in an unintentional way.”
This recommendation is only a decade year old. In the 2010 Wesco Annual Meeting, Charlie detailed his thought on the book that explored the behind-the-scenes narratives on a financial crisis.
Les Schwab Pride in Performance: Keep It Going
“If you want to read one book, read the autobiography of Les Schwab. He ran tire shops in the Midwest and made a fortune by being shrewd in a tough business by having good systems &He made hundreds of millions selling tires.”
Charlie, like The Path to Power and Deep Simplicity, was recommended during the 2004 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. Les Schwab Pride in Performance: Keep It Going is a story about Les Schwab and his company and his origins in the tire business that shares with readers concepts of building successful companies through building successful employees.
Fiasco: The Inside Story of a Wall Street Trader
Read the book “F.I. A.S.C.O.” by law professor and former derivatives trader Frank Partnoy, an insider account of depravity in derivative trading at one of the biggest and best-regarded Wall Street firms. The book will turn your stomach. – “Academic Economics: Strengths and Faults After Considering Interdisciplinary Needs”
Charles made this recommendation in 2003 through his paper, “Academic Economics: Strengths and Faults After Considering Interdisciplinary Needs.” FIASCO is a book the uncovered an entire macho culture in the cutthroat industry that is trading.
Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire
“I think Bill Gates’ biography book is handy. You really get a feeling for what it took to write and sell software in the software revolution.”
Charlie, in 1993, during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, took an interest in the life of the man behind Microsoft, Bill Gates. Hard Drive is the real story that details the rise of a genius despot, the metamorphosis on an entire industry, and the target on his back.
“Ice Age is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I’ve spent thousands of dollars buying copies for my friends. If you don’t like Ice Age, then you have some limitations.”
Charlie was vindictive during the 2002 Wesco Annual Meeting when he recommended this book to his listeners. Munger believes this literary masterpiece is “(The) best work of science exposition and history” he’s read in ‘his years.’
This is merely a glimpse of the knowledge Charles has accumulated through the years. As a man of intellect, he believes that it takes a thirst for knowledge to become wise. Suffice to say; it’s hard to argue against a man who built an empire through the wisdom he’s gained from his love for literature.
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