Brilliant Books That Help Trader's Improve Their Mindset

The biggest battle for traders is not beating the market, it is overcoming their internal adversary, their Self. This means overcoming the psychological resistance and complete mindset screw-up that occurs in trading. 

Every little bit of help you can muster is essential if you are going to win that battle and succeed in the markets. Know the enemy and know yourself is the mantra of military strategists inspired by the Chinese general Sun Tzu. Well in trading, the enemy is you, therefore know thyself takes on an even more powerful resonance. 

We are constructing a growing list of books which we feel will help people in that battle: List 1 refers to books which are directly related to Financial markets. List 2 refers to non-Financial Market books which help in developing Mindset and Mental Strength for the Financial Market battles ahead.
List 1: Books on Mindset, Psychology, Performance, Decision-Making, Risk & Probabilistic Thinking directly related to Financial Markets. 

Markets Wizards – Jack Schwager We recommend the entire series of Market Wizard's books (There are 5 books in the series). In our opinion reading Market Wizards should be mandatory for all traders. In 2020 'Unknown Market Wizards' was released. You can hear Jack's interview on the AlphaMind Podcast which coincided with that release here.

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator – Edwin Leferve If you’ve never read this, you should - It remains the all time classic trading book and remains as relevant as ever, almost a century after it was first written. - It is also now available in audible form.

Trading in The Zone – Mark Douglas Many people refer to this as the Bible. Douglas brilliantly analyses trading behaviours from a psychological perspective and offers tips and ideas to reduce the negative impact of these.

The Disciplined Trader – Mark Douglas Less well known than the above, but also a great book with many great insights and perspectives.

The Psychology of Money – Morgan Housel Morgan is a fund manager, and former Wall Street Journalist. this book was released a few weeks ago, and is set to become a modern classic. You can hear Morgan on an episode of our AlphaMind Podcast at this link

Alpha Trader: The Mindset, Methodology and Mathematics of Professional Trading  – Brent Donnelly Brent, who has been both a bank trader, and a hedge fund manager, focuses heavily on the Process, Practice and Philosophy of Trading, and is one of few books which tackles this area in such depth. Alpha Trader may become a trading book classic. AlphaMind Podcast interview with Brent Donnelly.

Best Loser Wins:  – Tom Hougaard. Tom shares his intimate insight into his journey form struggling trader to high-stake retail traders. Tom Hougaard is the winner of multiple trading competitions and on one occasion traded £25,000 into more than £1 million over the course of a year. You can hear Tom on the AlphaMind Podcast at this link. 

The Way of the Turtle – Curtis Faith 
In 1983, legendary commodity traders Richard Dennis and William Eckhardt held an experiment to prove that anyone could be taught to trade. It was known as the Trading Turtles experiment. Curtis Faith was one of the most successful of the Turtles and shares his experiences in this excellent read. 

The Zen Trader: How Ancient Wisdom Can Help You Master Your Mind and the Markets - Peter Castle. Peter shares his reflections on how he incorporated some of the teaching of his learnings from Buddhism, into a mental process which helped him to cope better with demands placed on him as a trader. You can hear Peter discuss the book on the  AlphaMind Podcast at this link

Market Mind Games – Denise Shull Denise is a former trader and now a top Trading Performance Coach. In this book  Denise gets inside the trader's mind from a different angle. Denise, who has has also studied neuroscience, has an exceptional understanding of what leads to psychological disturbances in performance. You can hear Denise on an episode of our AlphaMind Podcast at this link

The Mental Game of Trading: A System for Solving Problems with Greed, Fear, Anger, Confidence, and Discipline - Jared TendlerJared takes a games view of the mental challenges of trading. Based on his work with traders and his previous work on poker players, golf players and epsorts players, Jared has devleoped a system which helps people take control of their mental game. You can hear Jared on this episode of the AlphaMind Podcast: Podcast link. Youtube link 

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk-Taking, Gut Feelings and the Biology of Boom and Bust. - John Coates Coates is a neuroscientist who use to work inside an investment bank's trading business and thus has first hand experience of the challenges of trading. Coates provides a very interesting perspective of trader and market behaviour from a Neuroscience angle.

The Psychology of Trading – Brett Steenbarger There are few people with a better understanding of Trader Psychology than Steenbarger. This is reflected deeply in this book, which though not a light read, is an outstanding journey into the psychological aspects faced by traders. The insights are strong and powerful. 
You can hear Brett on one of early AlphaMind Podcast episodes at this link

Minding the Markets: An Emotional Finance View of Financial Instability – David Tuckett Trading is a highly emotional activity. Most of your actions, and most market behaviour, is driven by emotions. This book explores these aspects though an academic lens. This brilliant book is not a light read, but if you are serious about upgrading your understanding of yourself and markets, you want to set aside some time to read this powerful book.

The Behavioural Investor – Daniel Crosby Crosby is a psychologist who has written extensively about the psychological and behavioural aspects of investing. This book is quickly becoming a modern classic of investing. Though this book is focused more on investing than trading, but nuances aside, it is equally valid in many ways for traders. 
You can hear Daniel on our one of early AlphaMind Podcast episodes at this link

Bite the Ass off a Bear – Garth Friesen A a much underrated book by a leading Hedge Fund manager which ties together interesting trading anecdotes from his experiences, his journey to the top-table and the challenges of getting there.
You can hear Garth on our one of early AlphaMind Podcast episodes at this link

Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, Anti-Fragility and Skin in The Game - Nassim Taleb One of the keys to success in Financial Markets is the ability to understand the nature of uncertainty and complexity, and to understand how it impacts you and how you work. Taleb's books explore this from various differing perspectives. Any and all of Taleb's books are highly recommended. 

Thinking Fast & Slow – Daniel Kahneman. Behavioural Finance is all about understanding how people make decisions in conditions of heightened uncertainty. – Kahneman, a psychologist, is the High Priest of behavioural Finance. Though not directly about trading, you will not fail make the connections as you read.

The Little Book of Behavioural investing – James Montier
. This book is a brilliant short book on the psychological pitfalls encountered by people in Financial markets.

Thinking in Bets 
- Annie Duke. (Also Annie's second book, 'How to Decide'). Not books directly about trading, yet all about trading. I've included these books in this section as they are so closely related to the trading challenge. Annie is a former World Series of Poker champion who talks about how people can embrace uncertainty and make better decisions. You can hear Annie on the AlphaMind Podcast at this link.

The Wisdom Of Crowds - James Surowiecki. A look at group behaviour and how groups reach better decisions than individuals, what makes groups smart, where the dangers of group decisions lie, and how each our understanding of group behaviour, can help us make better decisions. Another book not about trading, but whose topic is so related, that we have included it. 

The Playbook: An Insider Look at How to Think Like a Professional Trader - Mike Bellafiore. This is ased on Mike's own trading experiences, and those who have been through the SMB training programmes and worked at SMB Capital. The book shares the real psychological struggles of professional traders and stresses the importance of continually working on and getting to know yourself. 

High Performance Trading & Bullet Proof Trading - Steve Ward. Former sports psychologist turned trader performance coach has written some of the most popular books on trader mindset of the past few years. Steven's work focuses on helping people improve how they are when facing the challenges which face so many traders and investors. You can hear Steve on our one of our AlphaMind Podcast episodes at this link

The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports, and Investing. - Micheal Mauboussin. Michael is Head of Consilient Research at Counterpoint Global and previously was Director of Research at BlueMountain Capital and Head of Global Financial Strategies at Credit Suisse. This book focuses on untangling the roles of luck and skill in performance, and how you can start to make luck increasingly work for you, through the application of skill.

Cash Rules: Reminiscences of a Day Trader - David Hale. David's trading journey is told with refreshing honesty and humility, making this book both an enjoyable and a thought-provoking read. Rather than a step-by-step guide, this book presents trading as it truly is, without the pretense. 

Mastering the Trade: Proven Techniques for Profiting from Intraday and Swing Trading Setups. - John F Carter. When the late great Mark Douglas said of this book that it is 'Well written and packed with the kind of insight about the nature of trading and the markets that can benefit every level of trader." then that should be enough of a recommendation for anyone. 

List 2: Books which can help develop Mindset and Performance not related directly to Financial Markets. 

Bringing Down the House: How Six Students Took Vegas for Millions - Ben Mezrich. This is one of those books which is nothing and everything to do with trading. As you read, you should see many of the parallels with playing against the market (the house), and finding ways to win (and not win). This is the book that was made into the film '21'.

The Inner Game of Tennis – Tim Gallwey. This book is nothing to do with trading, and everything to do with trading. In tennis, as in all performance activities, of which trading is one, the biggest challenge is getting out of your own way. The Inner Game is about learning not to get in your own way, so that you can start to perform to your potential. 

Growth Mindset – Carol Dweck I am reading this a 3rd time now, and it will not be the last. My advice is read it, reflect on it, and read it again. Her theory of Growth Mindset is something which every trader should try and adapt to. We recently did a podcast on Growth Mindset and trading, which you can access here

Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink and Leif Babin Authored by two former US Navy SEALs who served in Iraq. They honed the principles of Extreme Ownership on the battlefield, then applied the same tenets to the corporate world as business consultants. The lessons of the book are equally applicable to traders and trading. 

Atomic Habits – James Clear. So many people recommended this book, that I have just downloaded it and started reading it. I am unable to give a full review yet, but if it continues in anyway similar to how it has started, it is going to be exceptional. I will update this soon.

Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers - Tim Ferriss. This is another one of those books recommended by many people traders. The Financial Times said Tools of Titans is the perfect read for obsessives wanting to boost their  productivity. 

The Power of Now – Eckhardt Tolle. More spiritual than the other books, but do not let that put you off. This will have a powerful impact on you. The connection to performance will become apparent.

Becoming Comfortable Being Uncomfortable - Ben Aldridge. The very essence of trading is 'facing uncertainty, being put in deeply uncomfortable situations, and being able to still function effectively'. Ben's explores this through a series of challenges he put himself through. Listen to Ben discuss this the AlphaMind Podcast here

The Source: Open Your Mind, Change Your Life. - Dr Tara Swart. This has been described as 'The Secret' but based on neuroscience. The Source strips away some of of the mystique of the 'law of attraction' and replaces it with insights based on neuroscience. You can hear Tara on our one of our AlphaMind Podcast episodes at this link

Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction. - Philip Tetlock. From one of the world's most highly regarded social scientists, a transformative book on the habits of mind that lead to the best predictions.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey This book is huge in the business world, but not the Financial Market world. Whilst some aspects are not so relevant to trading, do not let cause you to miss some great learnings and the overall message which will make you far more effective as a trader. It would also be valuable if you are in a leadership role or running yor own trading business.

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance – Josh Waitzkin. When someone recommends a book, I take note, but when a few people recommend the same book, I become interested, when many of those people are leading figures in the Hedge Fund world, then you 
 take notice. This book is exactly that. In the Art of Learning chess prodigy, and martial arts champion Josh Waitzkin brilliantly explores his own amazing journey to peak performance, in a way which educates and informs, but more importantly causes you to reflect, deeply.

Risk Intelligence – How to Live with Uncertainty. – Dylan Evans. Not many people have heard of this book, and even less have read it. It is a great book which creates pause for thought and has some great learnings and insights about living with risk and uncertainty.

The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness. – Dr Steve Peters. Steve Peter’s presents his Mind Management Model which he has used to great effect with Olympic Athletes, Top Sports People and Business Leaders. Its a terrific metaphor which really works when it comes to helping you become more effective.

The Winning Mindset: What Sport Can Teach Us About Great Leadership - Damian Hughes. Success in trading demands a Winning Mindset. Damian is one of the world's leaders in the area of developing a High Performance Mindset. You can hear Damian on our Podcast from June 2020 at this link.   

The Wisdom of Crowds. – James Surowiecki Excellent book that will help you understand the broader Psychology of Markets as a collection of people and will impact your mindset on markets.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values - Robert Pirsig This is a powerful examination of how we live and a breathtaking meditation on how to live better. It is both personal and philosophical.

Blink – Malcom Gladwell This book has a very positive impact on me in my trading years, waking me up to my intuitive skills, which often I had sought to suppress.

Sources of Power – Gary Klein Klein’s work inspired Gladwell to write ‘Blink’. Not as easy to read as some books, but with some brilliant perspectives on intuition in decision-making in uncertain situations. 
You can hear Gary Klein on our Podcast from May 2020 at this link 

Who Moved My Cheese – Dr Spencer Johnson This book inspired me in trading years and I always kept a copy by my trading desk. It is an allegorical book with a powerful message about goals, change and habits.

Golf Isn’t a game of Perfect – Bob Rotella Many traders have read this and advised me to read it. It is a terrific book about our desire for perfection and how it holds us back.

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How To Lose Your Mind And Create A New One – Dr Joe Dispenza I have not read this but have been highly recommended it, it is now on my reading list)

The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma – Bessel van der Kolk. Another book I haven’t read yet, but it has been recommended by a few people I highly respect. I would guess the link is that working in Financial Markets can be considered one long trauma, and this may help you get past that.

If you there are other books which you feel are worthy of adding to this list, please let me know either in the contacts section of this article or by email at

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