When people who are starting to get involved in the markets, whether as professionals or investors, ask me what books I suggest they read, this is the first one I always mention.
Reminiscences of a Stock Operator is a quasi-biography of the legendary Jesse Livermore, who went from early 1900’s bucket shop speculator to master trader, having won and lost large fortunes along the way in everything from stocks to cotton futures.
Written by Edwin LeFevre in the 1920’s, ROASO is one of the best books about trading ever written. The narrative sucks you right into the mindset of a speculator as trades go wrong, right, and then wrong again. Along the way, you get a tour of the turn-of-the-century brokerage world, a glimpse into the commodity markets, and a chance to meet an incredibly well-drawn cast of characters based on real-life figures who shaped the way our markets work today.
My favorite of these characters is Mr. Partridge, who teaches the trader that no matter what, in a bull market, he will not part with his stock positions. His conviction is unshakable when implored by a tipster to part with his shares. His response is something along the lines of “I can’t afford to sell my stock, as we are in a bull market.”
What Mr. Partridge is really saying is that, yes, maybe the tipster is correct that the stock is about to drop, but reacting to this minor fluctuation by selling could cause him to miss the broader trend of the market, which is higher. Mr. Partridge explains that his market education came through many booms and panics and at a high price, and so he couldn’t possibly afford to throw that education out the window by losing his position in a bull market.
As simplistic as this philosophy is, I am amazed at how often I see it disregarded here on The Street (and in my own trading!)
I recommend Reminiscences of a Stock Operator to anyone who has an interest in trading, investing, speculation or the history of the commodities and stock markets. I am amazed that this book has not yet been made into a movie, although Hollywood would probably move it into a modern day setting, add a love interest and leave out all the interesting market mechanics that make the book so valuable.
On second thought, read it now and pray that the film rights never get picked up…and ignore the words of Mr. Partridge at your own peril!
Use the link below for purchasing information…Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (Wiley Investment Classics)