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In a Few Words, Warren Buffett Reminds Us of a Forgotten Habit That Led to His Success


Warren Buffett has a reputation for being a prodigious reader, spending as much as six hours per day  reading books and newspapers. He said it himself: “I just sit in my office and read all day.” That’s a direct quote.

Buffett also does something counterintuitive in the hyper-connected digital world of constant stimuli vying for our attention: Think! The Oracle of Omaha once dropped this notable quote: 

I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.

Taking time aside during the day to just read and think is not exactly standard operating procedure for most of us. Let’s face it, with Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting, multiple tasks to juggle, and deadlines to meet, we’re just too busy to have quiet time to do either.

Buffett believes that your mind is perhaps your most important asset as an investor. So it’s important to spend time exercising your mind through daily reading and thinking. To that end, at least on the reading front, here are four celebrated books that Warren Buffett personally recommends from his own list.

The Intelligent Investor

Only Buffett’s words will do The Intelligent Investor justice. In the preface to the fourth edition, Buffett writes, “I read the first edition of this book early in 1950, when I was 19. I thought then that it was by far the best book about investing ever written. I still think it is.” He points out that sound investment requires no more than the proper intellectual framework for decision making, and he concludes that The Intelligent Investor “precisely and clearly prescribes the proper framework.”

Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything

In his 2012 annual letter, Buffett recommended Tap Dancing to Work by Carol Loomis, a former editor-at-large at Fortune magazine. Loomis put together a book based on insights into Buffett’s investment strategies. Bonus: The book includes a 1996 essay from Buffett’s bestie Bill Gates, where Gates shares how he and Buffett struck up their legendary friendship.

One Thousand Ways to Make $1,000

Buffett credits One Thousand Ways to Make $1,000 (a rather obscure gem he found in the school library at the age of 7) with inspiring him to kickstart his career. If you can get past the dated language (the book was written in 1936), there are precious lessons embedded throughout that stand the test of time.

Warren Buffett’s Ground Rules: Words of Wisdom From the Partnership Letters of the World’s Greatest Investor

Author and financial adviser Jeremy C. Miller does an outstanding job researching and extracting the best of Buffett’s investing “ground rules” from letters Buffett wrote to his partners between 1956 and 1970. Buffett praised Warren Buffett’s Ground Rules in his 2015 annual letter, stating, “If you are fascinated by investment theory and practice, you will enjoy this book.”

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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