Top positive review
Fantastic Value for Money
on 30 March 2016
Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga are the 3 tallest mountain ranges out there. It is likely on the bucket list of many new and aspining climbers, working as a backdrop siren call as they hone their skills on lesser mounds.
Book lovers have their own list but this list can never be definitive since there can be no universal consensus on the what shoudl go into "the toughtest reads out there" book list. Each persons list, like the idea of utopia or hell, is personal and unique.
But odds are a 100 book list made by a lot of bibliophiles would likely contain gems like :
Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
These books are reputed to be very tough slogs and there is no definitive gurantee you will turn the last page and feel glad you dived in. In fact, chances are most of these books will be flung across the room well before the last chapter. A lot of them are wilting in bookshelves around the world waiting for a day when the owner inevitably bundles it into the charity Box for donation.
When I purchased 'Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders' on 15 November 2013 (for the pricy sum of £2.07) I was not sure what I was in for. All I knew was that I liked Warren's way of thinking and approach to business and investing and I wanted to read more from the man directly, not via a biographer or hired hand. I surely would have done a double take if my future self has told me I would take 865 days to finish this 1000 page plus book.
'Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders' is not a book really but a collection of annual letters written by Warren buffet, the legendary investor and 2nd richest man on Earth. Each year, he writes a letter to his shareholders telling them how well (or poorly) Berkshire Hathaway, the company he runs, did. So technically this books, containing 50 letters, from 1965 to 2015, took 50 years to 'write'. (Amazon automatically updated the kindle version with the letters of the last 2 years, after I purchased the book in 2013. Go Amazon!).
But then that is like saying "History is about important dates". 'Letters to Shareholders' is soooo much more than just a collection of letters. Through theese letters, Buffet talks about the wider investing and business world and touches on a lot of very interesting subjects, giving the reader a solid grounding on many helpful topics that can stand in as life lessons.
The book is especially splendid at educating the reader on 3 topics :
1. Investing : Over 50 letters (sermons?) Buffet eloborates on what being a value investor is all about and how to think like a smart investor. There are books explicitly dedicated to teaching you investing and fail at it while this book does in almost as an afterthought. Buffet talks at length on how to think about investing and then how to act on that thinking. This alone make this book worth the time needed to read it. I evy the young reader who finishes it before his 25th birthday. He is guranteed to have a literally richer life than he would otherwise have had, whatever his starting posiiton was weathwise.
2. Business : Berkshire Hathaway buys and oversees a boatload of companies and Buffet wades deep into what metrics matter when running a firm. There are many colleges around the world, esp in third world locations, offering dubious pricey lengthy MBA and Business Diplomas that fail to do in many years what this one little book does by itself : Give the reader a unbeatably thorough education in the basics of thinking like a CEO/Businessman.
3. Understanding Insurance : Berkshire Hathaway at its core is an Insurance Firm and as a Consulatnt currently embedded at one such firm, I could not have hoped for a more comprehensive overview on how to look into and understand the industry and the myriad operators it it. Insurance plays a very important part in most economies globally and the book gives the readers lessons on how to evaluate the health of the industry and a frim in it. Nothing comes close.
So yes, while it took me the better part of 30 months to finish this book, it was only because you should injest this book slowly and gradually to let the lessons and Buffet's wisdom sink in, like sand settling at the bottom of a lake. A beachread this book is most definetly not but you know what this book most definetly is for me personally : The Best £2.07 I ever spent.
So go on, jump in and climb this Everest. The view from the top is worth it.