1/24/2017: Edwin Lefevre

So yeah, I’ve been doing this 52 book challenge thing and I can be justly accused of picking books for size. I actually posted a question about the legitimacy of doing so on reddit, why I have no idea. I’ll occasionally need to ask the universe questions I full well know the answer to. I guess it helps to keep track of the number of things I’m juggling in my head to hear “duh” a couple few times.

I came to the conclusion that picking books for size, so that I’ll finish them is just fine as long as they’re books I’d read otherwise. No heading to the Barnes & Noble kids section to get the Percy Jackson or Captain Underpants series to blast through in an evening or anything. But if it’s already on my shelf? All clear.

One of the things I’m working on is spinning up the engines of market familiarity again, dumping as much as I reasonably can in my head, to get me ready for trading again. It’s been too long since I’ve been able to pull those levers.

At the end of the year I read “Hedge Fund Market Wizards” which was absolutely awesome. The “market wizards” books (I think there are 3 or 4) are primarily distilled interview content from Jack Schwager’s interviews with famous traders. It was one of the most enlightening books on the market I’ve ever read. The variety of approaches, personalities, and styles really left me with both the idea that there was simply no excuse for me not to be trading and the abject terror of trying to figure out what “my style of trading” really is. It’s one thing to pick one of a few available approaches and read up on how to do that well. But there are far fewer borders and boxes than I thought, leaving me with Tabula Rasa Terror.

But one thing most traders seem to universally recommend, both in the book and elsewhere, is “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator” by Edwin Lefvre, which was written almost a hundred years ago (I think the publication date was 1923) and chronicles the rags to riches to rags to riches to rags to riches journey of a man fighting with the market. Well, I finished it this morning. It certainly held up its end of the deal. Aside from some anachronistic vernacular, and a strange difference in professional culture, I was surprised (though almost certainly shouldn’t have been) at how precise he captured the general principles and pitfalls of trading (because we’re not really talking about ‘investing’ here) more than 100 years ago, and how very little it’s changed, at least in that dimension; and in that regard it was edifying to find the same emotional demons I’d faced (and, lost) occurring in someone so far out of time and experience.

Unfortunately the solutions all seem to fall in to the “Doctor doctor, it hurts when I do this….don’t do that” variety. But it’d be a lot to ask of a book from 1923 I suppose.

I’ll go back through it with a notebook and a highlighter as there’s no doubt I missed a lot of great stuff on the first read through.

Now I’ve got a bookshelf (new, more on that later) full of trading books that are starting to quiver as I get near them. Can’t wait 🙂

1/23/2017: The 52 book challenge

There is no end to the number of internet soandso challenges. There’s….ya know what, it’s not worth it.

I always mourn the fact that I’m a voracious reader who doesn’t read nearly as much as I’d like. It’s just too easy to get sucked in to other things. The lure of the internet, primarily, is just too great for my ADDitude. But I came across the /r/52book subreddit a few weeks ago and thought to myself, I thought… “Self? There’s really no excuse.”

So off I go. 52 books by the end of the year.

There are going to be some dupes. There are going to be some rereads. And, I may actually pick some smaller books just to play catch-up on the numbers.

I’m not committing to reviewing each one. Shit…I’m not PLANNING to review them. But this post will be the list, assuming I can remember to keep coming back to update it. I’m sure I’ll be in touch along the way regardless.

  1. “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed these. I blew through them all so fast the first time I read them, that I missed more than I remembered. It’s kind of startling to me how much COLOR there is in everything.
  2. “The Procrastination Puzzle” Nice little book on procrastination, what it is, and techniques for dealing with it. Full marks.
  3. “Magic of Thieves” by C. Greenwood. Meh. Skip it.
  4. “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”
  5. “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator”
  6. “Manalive” by G.K.Chesterton. This book is my favorite thing ever created by a human.
  7. “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman.
  8. “How To Live On 24 Hours A Day” by Arnold Bennett
  9. “Three Hearts and Three Lions” by Poul Anderson
  10. “Buy Signals Sell Signals” by Steve & Holly Burns. A tiny little book, but so information dense it took me a week to digest.
  11. “The Ultimate Mind Map Book” by Tony Buzan. Meh. 98.5% fluff around a really great idea. Skip it
  12. “Dungeon Born: The Divine Dungeon” Book One by Dakota Krout. Read this if you like fantasy. It’s got all the hallmarks of a freshman effort. But it’s a smile.
  13. “Create or Hate” by Dan Norris. Just…don’t. It’s “fine.” The way I described it on Reddit is: Take Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”, change the word “resistance” to “hate” (presumably because it rhymes with create) then water it WAY down and cut out most of the smart stuff.
  14. “168 Hours” by Laura Vanderkam. This isn’t bad. It boils down to “You’re not as busy as you think you are, and when you’re honest about that you can probably have closer to ‘it all’ than you thought possible.” Good thesis, practical ideas. Light.
  15. “We Are Legion (We Are Bob)”. Imagine you hit the dot-com jackpot and your company is bought for a couple billion. You go to a peculiar insurance company that says they’ll freeze your head when you die, then fix you up a new body when medical science is up to snuff. You wake up…but you’re not in a body…not really. Then it starts to get weird.
  16. “Practical Demonkeeping” by Christopher Moore. I love this every time I read it. It’s a goofy little modern fantasy with heart. As a freshman effort it’s truly impressive.
  17. “How To Fail At Almost Everything And Still Win Big” by Scott Adams. This was a lovely little book. I don’t want to salt the dig too much. It’s a little self-helpy and a lot autobiographical. There’s some nice casual “hey man, get over yourself. This is no big deal.” energy to it.
  18. “The Club of Queer Trades” by G.K.Chesterton. Look, I love Chesterton. He’s responsible for my favorite thing ever created by a human (scroll up.) I’ve read Queer Trades before and quite enjoyed it. But the second (or maybe fourth) time through, once you’ve figured out his literary devices and way of talking, it starts getting pretty pale (Manalive suffers no such deficiency.) There are an awful lot of books that are collected small pieces, presumably from his column writing career. And they just leave me a bit cold. If you haven’t read it, read it. You can bang out one of these short stories in no time and laugh your ass off doing it. But it doesn’t rank among his more interesting work.
  19. “Out of the Silent Planet” by C.S. Lewis. It’s good. But not good enough for me to read the rest of the trilogy.
  20. “Trading Beyond The Matrix” by Van K. Tharp. More about this elsewhere.
  21. “The Defendant” by G.K. Chesterton. It’s got some bright points. But definitely not one of my favorites. A lot of his stuff (12 Types, Tremendous Trifles, The Defendant, The Club of Queer Trades, etc) seem to just be anthologies of essays or tiny stories on a theme that appeared in serial. As such the individual pieces tend to be pretty hit and miss.
  22. “Pudd’nhead Wilson” by Mark Twain. I hadn’t read it in 30 years. I’d apparently forgotten entirely what it was about. Enjoyed it, but the patois was pretty jarring.
  23. “The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove” by Christopher Moore. I adore Moore. This is the 2nd in his “Pine Cove” series. He writes dog pretty convincingly :).
  24. “The Man Who Was Thursday” by G.K.Chesterton. This was my introduction to Chesterton back in the day. If you haven’t read it, I HIGHLY recommend it. Note that the full title is “The Man Who Was Thursday, A Nightmare”.
  25. “The Hero With 1000 Faces” by Joseph Campbell. I should’ve read this 30 years ago. Not that I’d have had the faintest fucking idea what it meant. But still. An excellent, if…somewhat dry, book.
  26. “Fluke” by Christopher Moore. I’m not sure I’d read this more than once. Just adorable.
  27. “For We Are Many” by Dennis Taylor. This is the 2nd of the Bobverse books. It’s fucking phenomenal. 3rd book comes out on 8/7 I think. I’m counting down days.
  28. “The Science of Personal Achievement” by Napoleon Hill. It’s audio, but it counts. The content is 10/10. But listening to the man speak makes me want to drive into oncoming traffic. Stop YELLING for fuck’s sake.
  29. “Coyote Blue” by Christopher Moore. I picked up some references to other books I’d previously missed on this read through. Coyote Blue’s a fun one. It slips between the cracks of his Pine Cove stuff and the San Francisco books. But…I suppose Fluke does as well, technically. I just think Fluke is strong enough in comparison that it doesn’t fall between anything. I might start the San Francisco series next, not sure.
  30. “Bloodsucking Fiends” by…you guessed it, Christopher Moore. So lovely 🙂
  31. “You Suck” follow up to Bloodsucking Fiends. I’d forgotten how much I loved this. Bloodsucking Fiends is arguably the better book. But Abby Normal absolutely steals the fucking show. It’s just… yeah. If you’re not already reading them then nothing I can say is going to push you closer to the edge.
  32. “Bite Me” the 3rd book in the San Francisco trilogy.
  33. “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. You should just read this. It’s not huge. The audio version is also great as he reads it himself.
  34. “Dungeon Madness” This is the follow-up to “Dungeon Born” by Dakota Krout. It’s a dungeon crawler fantasy series where the protagonist is the Dungeon itself. It brings to mind the Bobverse books which…as I scroll up I see I haven’t put here. That’s interesting. Anyway it’s got that air of “a great concept, well ridden” that I love so much about Bobverse (which, by the time you read this, will be repopulated above.) But it really left me fiending for the 3rd book.
  35. “Spellmonger” This is the first in what I’d hope was only a trilogy if I planned on reading the rest of them. It’s a perfectly reasonable bit of fantasy pulp for people who don’t read much. I’m going to skip the rest of them.
  36. “All These Worlds”, the 3rd book in the Bobiverse series. It’s lovely. Personally I think the first was the strongest. But the author really delivers on Bob. My fear is that he milks it drier and drier over another 3 or 9 book until there’s nothing left but mediocre wordcraft. He tied up the things that needed to be tied up and left open some fascinating possibilities.
  37. “Forex For Beginners” by Anna Coulling. It’s taken me… Jesus I don’t KNOW how long to get around to finishing this book. Given the dozens of books I’ve read on trading, it definitely ranks in the top 10 if not top 5 for wide and deep introductory material to currency trading. You can read that book and immediately open an account and start trading. It’s not all you need to know. But it’s all you need to know to get started and not shoot yourself in the foot. I disagree with some of her contentions but so what.
  38. “How To Quit Your Job With Passive Income” by Dustin Heiner. I figured I’d give this a shot. It’s not a bad little write-up of using affiliate sites and the like as a passive income stream. It certainly is thorough enough that you could read it and start right from there. A quick read, I’m glad I went through it because it put to bed any curiosity I’ve had about engaging in that kind of nonsense.
  39. “Options Trading Quickstart Guide” by ClydeBank Media (weird. No author name.) This is a surprisingly good little brain blast of options information and strategies. You definitely could NOT read this then head to your local broker with a check and start writing covered calls. But it’s a solid supplement to other beginner level texts. Yeah, it’s got the basics in there (from all the way down at “What’s a Put?”.) But it also has a lot more information about options strategies. Well… a little information about each of a lot of strategies. Definitely worth reading.
  40. “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” by James Meyers. Meh. I didn’t realize this was little more than a pamphlet sized book. That’s the danger of buying books on the Kindle. Unless you remember to check the page count, you could end up with something…well…like this. It’s not bad. But it’s definitely not interesting enough to recommend.
  41. “Enchiridion” by Epictetus. Translated by Thomas W. Higginson. I only mention the name of the translator because of the incredibly shitty job he did on what is supposed to be a seminal work in Stoicism. Or maybe it’s stereo instructions…or perhaps an attempt to mimic the recipe for kreplachs into Mandarin, then translated into Latin and then English. Tough to tell because of how fucking shitty a job this guy did. Reading between the lines (which is pretty much the only way to get anything OUT of this) it’s actually got some interesting principles. I hadn’t thought of Stoicism as being quite so much of a “oh suck it up, we all have our place in the universe, make the best of it because it’s not in your power to change it” philosophy. I mean…3/4 that, sure. But it really makes it seem like petulant shelter from an oppressive sociopolitical structure.
  42. “Good To Great” by Jim Collins. This was really good. It’s an interesting study on what companies did that brought them from mediocrity (or worse) to well-defined and sustained (his criteria was 15+ years) greatness. I was surprised by some of their conclusions. But it definitely scans. Well recommended if you’re a part of an organization of any type. (The research is not applicable merely to corporations.)
  43. “On Basilisk Station” The first of the Honor Harrington books. I’d forgotten entirely how much I loved these.
  44. “MT4 High Probability Forex Trading Method” by Jim Brown (different Jim Brown.) It’s a solid little trading strategy book. Not for beginners. You’ve got to have a reasonable understanding of the currency exchanges or at least equity price action trading. Not because it’s particularly advanced so much as because of the background information.
  45. “Honor Of The Queen”: (Honor Harrington, Book 2.) I know I know. But still. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed these. I’ve got the audio versions now and listening to them is quite a treat.
  46. “Trading Forex with Divergence on MT4/MT5” by Jim Brown. Another interesting little trading system book. It’s going to be interesting to backtest this and see how it performs. I’m not sure I’ll trade it. But it’s another facet.
  47. “The Short Victorious War”. Honor Harrington 3. Lovely. I got most of the way through it before sitting at home and staring at the computer for the last 3 hours of the book. Listening to fiction audiobooks is a whole different ballgame from nonfiction. The performance weighs so much more heavily into the experience than I would’ve expected. Generally I get a lot more out of it. But sometimes I wish it was more natural for me to pause and picture what’s going on, especially with massive scale space battles. But I’ve got 8 more of these.
  48. “The Appetite of Tyranny including letters to an old Garibaldian” by G.K.Chesterton. I’d been chipping away at this for about a month. It’s a real Chestertonian slog. It’s remarkably enlightening about the attitudes of Germany a bit past the turn of the last century. Unfortunately I don’t know quite what years he wrote the pieces included in here. But it is absolutely predictive of the underlying issues that brought about the second world war and, with some background information in The Frankfurt School, what’s going on in the modern world as well. Just haunting.
  49. “Field of Dishonor” Honor Harrington #4. Some of it is a little tough to get through. But it’s solid. I’ve spent some significant amount of time just sitting at my computer listening to these in 3-4 hour chunks.
  50. “The Warrior Ethos” by Steven Pressfield. Solid little book on warrior culture, mostly with reference to Sparta, though he ties it back to modernity.
  51. “All These Shiny Worlds” a sci-fi/fantasy short story anthology. It was okay. I remember there being a couple bright spots. But I can’t for the life of me recall what they were, so they couldn’t have been THAT bright.
  52. “American Gods” Neil Gaiman. Full cast recording of the author’s preferred text. I’d read this when it came out and had loved it. The audio book is exceptional. It’s been long enough since I read the first edition that I wasn’t quite sure what I’d forgotten, what had been added, and what I was only noticing because I’ve listened to instead of read it. It’s interesting how that happens. I’m going to take a break now, because this counts 52 books this year, on the witching hour of 12/2.

Not sure what I’m going to get to next. There are a few books I’m reading in parallel. I want to get back on the stick with sharpening my programming and trading chops, so I might go for some of that instead of more fantasy fiction. We’ll see.