Literary critics are often asked, "If you were stranded on a tropical island and you only had one book to read for the rest of your life which book would you choose?" Well, if you posed that same question to the world's professional traders the response "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin LeFevre" would be the most frequent response, and by a large margin.
Despite being written in the early 1920's, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator continues to be the most useful and most-loved book ever written on the subject of trading and speculation. In this novel, LeFevre brilliantly describes the life and times of the book's protagonist, Larry Livingston, a pseudonym for Jesse Livermore, one of history's most famous traders.
Livingston never considered himself an investor; he was a speculator. He didn't mind being long or short, he just wanted to be correct. His approach was to figure out what the path of least resistance was and then go with the flow. He didn't believe in picking tops or bottoms; he waited for a trend to be confirmed and then jumped in, thus never fighting the tape. Livingston never traded out of boredom or solely for the sake of the excitement it brought to him. He knew that he could get rich by following a defined trend and thus calmly waited on the sidelines when the market was directionless. Had Livingston been alive today he would certainly be a momentum/price action based trader.
Although a sizeable portion of the book vividly describes the highs and lows of Livingston's exciting life, the meat of the book comes in the form of trading commandments that every successful trader can likely repeat even while asleep. These are the trading rules that have been passed down from mothers to daughters, fathers to sons, mentors to students, winners to losers. This is the book from which almost every subsequent general trading book is derived. If you have ever wondered where the trading rule "Never average down" came from, just turn to page 154. Where did the comparison between greed and fear first originate? You'll find it on page 130. Some other rules to live by that were introduced in LeFevre's book are:
-The trend is your friend.
-History repeats itself.
-No stock is too high to buy or too low to sell.
-Let your winners run and cut your losses quickly.
For beginners, this book will give you a strong and sturdy foundation on which you can build your successful trading career. It will fill your absorbent trading mind with vitally important trading principles in a clear and understandable manner. For experienced traders, reading this book again will galvanize your mind and refresh your spirit for trading. It brings clarity as to why we trade and how to best go about it. This is a must read for beginners and a must re-read for all others.