My favorite (investing) book

Fun-sized worldly wisdom

Holiday book recommendations are a thing. With my brain fried from school and work from home nonsense, the best I can come up with is a kids cartoon book. Then again, many books in the children’s section don’t belong there. Not merely due to graphic violence (wolf eating paatti; pied piper, the parallel killer; mutilating visually impaired mice). There’s something about being forced to simplify things that distills timeless wisdom better than grown-up books.

I first read “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by Dr Seuss a few years back, to my son. He shrugged it off as “Sure, makes sense”. Perhaps because “makes sense” is way less common in my section of the bookstore, I was blown away. It’s about how to approach life, handle success and failure and all that. What amazed me was its coverage of investing nuances that aren’t even discussed in investing books, certainly not in one place. Here are a few highlights from my favorite (investing) book.

Risk avoidance

Sensible investing starts with avoiding, not analyzing, ruinous risks. So does this book.

Waiting

What do I spend most of my time doing? Not buying. Not selling. Not even analyzing. Just waiting. For right price. For compounding to do its thing. For clarity on whether business woes are irredeemable. For Swiggy delivery. Dr Seuss captures the sheer frustration of this by calling it “A most useless place”. Coincidentally, which topic gets most words in this book? The Waiting Place …

Loneliness

Investing’s a solitary pursuit. Small teams work best when individuals form independent opinions before comparing notes. At extremes, running against a stampeding horde is especially lonely. Dr Seuss tells us that being lonely is a feature, not a bug.

Unknowability

Grown-up books bypass the sheer unknowability of our messy world. I guess authors don’t want to look foolish while charging the reader for enlightenment. Being decisive while being clueless is one of those seeming contradictions that Dr Seuss handles beautifully. “Where the streets are not marked” is as good a description of our messy world as one can get.

A cartoon book that talks about life involving tons of waiting and loneliness. Crippling uncertainty. Not-so-good streets that one should stay the hell out of. And more that I didn’t mention, in the spirit of brevity and copyright. Bang-ups. Being left in a lurch. Slumps. Getting mixed up with strange birds. Things that scare you right out of your pants. Yet, Dr Seuss’s masterpiece comes across as uplifting, leaving the reader looking forward to an adventure of a lifetime, albeit with eyes wide open. All this in under 200 Rupees and 10 minutes. Who said value is dead?  

PS. Do check out the book at a nearby bookshop or at Buy Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (Pb Om) Book Online at Low Prices in India | Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (Pb Om) Reviews & Ratings - Amazon.in to make up for any copyright I violated by sharing parts of the book.