If you want to pick the best restaurant in town, you'd probably ask the person who eats out the most. If you want to know where to buy great clothes, you'd go to the friend with the overflowing closet. And if you want to know what to read, you should probably look to the guy who has devoured the most incredible number of titles.
Blog Farnam Street quotes Munger as saying: "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."
So which books stand out from the towering stack of material Munger gets through? Farnam Street's Shane Parrish rounded up a few dozen suggestions from the tycoon. Here's a sample:
1. Fiasco: The Inside Story of a Wall Street Trader
Fiasco may not be pleasant reading, but it is powerful. "This book will make you sick," claims Parrish.
2. The Selfish Gene
A 1976 bestseller from Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene caused a revolution in how both scientists and lay people think about evolution. Rather than our genes helping us survive, what if people were just around to help their genes reproduce?
3. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
A classic on persuasion from Robert Cialdini, Parrish claims Munger has "given away more copies of this book than any other."
4. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
Another classic on its topic. Amazon calls it "one of the primary business texts of the modern era, it is based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project, a group that deals with all levels of negotiation and conflict resolution."
5. Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity
This one from astrophysicist John Gribbin on chaos theory doesn't sound like light reading, but it does sound fascinating. Go on, give your brain a workout.
6. Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
As Parrish notes, this book is recommended by both Bill Gates and Munger. That's a pretty strong endorsement. But if you're still on the fence, it also won a Pulitzer, while the New Yorker raved that "the scope and the explanatory power of this book are astounding."
7. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
"At 800 or so pages this is the perfect book for a week-long vacation," claims Parrish (who may or may not share your taste in summer reading). Titan traces Rockefeller's life from his humble origins as the son of snake-oil salesman to his pinnacle running the much feared monopoly Standard Oil.
8. Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company
Munger isn't the only one who liked this book by Intel's Andy Grove. Steve Job also recommended it. "This book is about one super-important concept. You must learn about Strategic Inflection Points, because sooner or later you are going to live through one," he said.
9. Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field: How Two Men Revolutionized Physics
This book might not sound like the most exciting subject for the non-expert but Parrish assures readers that "it's just the best book of its kind I have ever read, and I just hugely enjoyed it. Couldn't put it down."
10. How the Scots Invented the Modern World
If, like mine, your knowledge of Scottish history doesn't extend much further than Braveheart and Trainspotting, this choice will definitely be illuminating. Publisher's Weekly called it "a successful exploration of Scotland's disproportionately large impact on the modern world's intellectual and industrial development," through the work of some of the nation's great thinkers, from Adam Smith to David Hume.
Want more ideas? The rest of Parrish's list here, or if you really want a mind-boggling number of choices, check out this giant list of Munger's picks going back years.