What Do You Take Away From Books When You Read?

Currently going through books like When Genius Failed, Barbarians at the Gate, and Liar's Poker. I'm curious what people are thinking when they read books like this/in general and what they take away from it?

I find myself reading through these curious what others are thinking as they read besides the overall story if you did not know it going in.

WSO Elite Modeling Package

  • 6 courses to mastery: Excel, Financial Statement, LBO, M&A, Valuation and DCF
  • Elite instructors from top BB investment banks and private equity megafunds
  • Includes Company DB + Video Library Access (1 year)

Comments (14)

Apr 5, 2021 - 9:49pm

Speaking to Barbarians at the Gate, I enjoyed every page. Was such a great read and had many moving parts. My takeaways are to be the 'KKR' whenever possible. Keep a pulse on your markets and maintain strong relationships. Also that Boards can be swayed by a good salesman.

  • 1
Apr 5, 2021 - 10:13pm

There's been quite a few books I've read that could've been summarized into an article. A book that I ran into a roadblock with was The Alchemy of Finance. The book isn't terrible but hard to follow and even harder because it documented events from that era (when the book was written) so I didn't have background on the events to make sense of them. If the author doesn't seem credible to you, then just scrap the book. There's plenty of other books out there that'll make you knowledgeable on real estate and other areas.

  • 1
Apr 5, 2021 - 10:08pm

Barbarians at the Gate was so good, finished it in a couple days. Basically took away what the poster above did. And often when I read I don't really look for meanings or lessons like I did in English class, I tend to just read and if it hits me it hits me. 
 

Also, I don't waste time with books I dont find interesting.

Apr 5, 2021 - 10:29pm

It's also interesting how what you're thinking changes with time. You can read the same book twice and get a totally different experience.

Liar's Poker is a great example. When I first read it as a college student, I was amazed by the stories and culture. I recently re-read large parts and was not such a fan. Today, I read it as someone who has literally been in finance 6 or 7 times longer than Michael Lewis when he wrote that book.

I'm very critical of the industry today, but the book that I would have written two years on the job (like Michael Lewis) versus one that I would write today (over a decade on the job) would be much different. I know that everyone on WSO is a Michael Lewis super fan, but honestly after rereading his stuff as a more mature business professional, I'm a little more lukewarm on him. Still like it but not crazy about the book either.

Learn More

300+ video lessons across 6 modeling courses taught by elite practitioners at the top investment banks and private equity funds -- Excel Modeling -- Financial Statement Modeling -- M&A Modeling -- LBO Modeling -- DCF and Valuation Modeling -- ALL INCLUDED + 2 Huge Bonuses.

Learn more
  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Apr 5, 2021 - 10:45pm

I'm a recent grad around two years out of school and I have to agree on the author. From what I understand he was in the industry for 3-4 years, to me that hardly seems like enough time to be an expert and write a book. That was one of my initial thoughts when I looked up the background.

Apr 5, 2021 - 10:53pm

Yeah definitely. Also, he was a fixed income sales guy. Sure, it was the 80s and fixed income was huge at Solomon Brothers.  But just look at the general attitude on WSO. If I meet a person who is junior sales in a fixed income group, I'm not exactly impressed.....not a lot of posts on here about "How Do I Break into Fixed Income Sales"...

Good writer. Enjoyed the stories but at the end of the day, probably does not have the best and broadest scope of the industry.

Apr 6, 2021 - 2:20pm

I can't speak to anyone else here, but one of the reasons Lewis is so adored is because his writing and story-telling is really top notch. That's certainly the case for me, it's not easy to keep people so engaged when talking about mortgage bonds. Ditto for Tom Wolfe and Bonfire of the Vanities, although that's obviously far less finance focused.

Honestly, just re-read the opening chapter of Liar's Poker, where he explains the title of the book, and follow how he tells the story of the million-dollar-hand in parts, fills in the backstory when necessary, and pulls the whole thing together so tightly you barely realize what he's doing. It's a great example of telling a story with suspense, introducing characters and culture without conspicuously being verbose, and offers a great vignette that only obliquely is relevant to the main story of the book, but is very much in the spirit. 

Apr 6, 2021 - 8:12pm

IBWriterMachine

It's also interesting how what you're thinking changes with time.

Yeah good point. Our perspective changes with time and compounds on itself. 

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Apr 6, 2021 - 3:56pm

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Start Discussion

Total Avg Compensation

April 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (32) $350
  • Associates (180) $232
  • 2nd Year Analyst (102) $151
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (25) $146
  • Intern/Summer Associate (95) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (387) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (315) $82