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A man on a beach with a canoe and a book.
A man on a beach with a canoe and a book.

Books

Looking for light reading on money this summer? Add to ...

Hammock? Check. Gin and tonic? Check. Now all you need is some reading material to make the most of your summer vacation.

But instead of wasting precious brain cells on a cheap romance or mystery novel, why not pick up a book that will entertain, inform and maybe even make you some money - or at least help you avoid losing it?

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We talked to five money experts and asked for their top business and investing book recommendations.

MARK MOBIUS, executive chairman, Templeton Asset Management Ltd.

BOOK: House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street, by William D. Cohan

"I read about it in one of the financial magazines," said Mr. Mobius, an inveterate globetrotter and one of the great pioneers of emerging-markets investing, of the book he is reading on his current business travels (we reached him yesterday in Estonia). "The author was intimately involved in Wall Street as a Wall Street banker. He also wrote The Last Tycoon (a book about the palace intrigue at investment bank Lazard Frères & Co. in the 1980s)."

Mr. Mobius said House of Cards "gives you insight into the whole financial crisis and what really happened." The book contains a valuable perspective on "how relationships between banks and brokers work and grow" and "how overnight markets for mutual funds operate" - key pieces to understanding the puzzle of what went wrong for financial markets last fall.

RUNNER-UP CHOICE: Busted: Life Inside the Big Mortgage Meltdown, by Edmund L. Andrews

SUMMER VACATION PLANS: "Vacation - what's that?"

BRETT WILSON, co-founder, FirstEnergy Capital Corp. and panelist, Dragon's Den (CBC)

BOOK: Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell

"I've skimmed the first part of it. I'm leaving for Africa in a week, and it's my on-the-flight-over book," said the Calgary financier. "I've heard Gladwell speak before, several times, and have always been impressed by him as a speaker.

"I like what he talks about in terms of the differences between people, and how the outliers - those who really do achieve, falling outside the bell curve - just live life a little differently. I think some of my own success comes from some of my eccentricities, not my normalcy.

"I'm hoping that his book will reinforce that, as much as my children and friends think I'm nuts, that I'm still OK."

RUNNER-UP CHOICE: "I have a variety of marketing texts lying around," he said. "I think marketing is one of the least respected and understood tools that we have in life."

SUMMER VACATION PLANS: A month in Africa - touring Egypt with his daughter, helping his son build a school in Kenya, and going on safari with his girlfriend.

LINDA NAZARETH, senior economic analyst, Business News Network

BOOK: Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, by Leslie T. Chang

"What happens to China's economy is really going to be the story of what happens to the world economy over the coming decades," said Ms. Nazareth, a Bay Street economist-turned-broadcaster and author of The Leisure Economy.

"This book basically tells the story of the ongoing shift of people from country to city in China ... through the eyes of two 'factory girls,' young women who leave their village to work in a factory in a new factory city. I love that the author weaves the girls' actual story - even pulling in their texts and e-mails - into the bigger picture.

"It really drives home the point that the economic transformation of China is going to be a long and complicated story, not the kind of nice and straightforward the-market-is-growing kind of picture that would drive easy investment decisions."

RUNNER-UP CHOICE: The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression, by Amity Shlaes

SUMMER VACATION PLANS: The beach on Long Island; shopping and museums in Chicago

GAIL BEBEE, personal finance speaker and author, No Hype - The Straight Goods on Investing Your Money

BOOK: Are You a Stock or a Bond? Create Your Own Pension Plan for a Secure Financial Future, by Moshe Milevsky.

"As I am more or less retired (but not drawing on my RRSP yet), I am interested in books about retirement. I read a favourable review ... on a financial blog, so I picked up a copy," Ms. Bebee said.

"I particularly liked his analysis of the various risks of going broke in retirement - inflation, longevity and sequence of market returns in the years around retirement, and the strategies you can use to address these risks ... His detailed analysis of the underpinnings of annuities is particularly informative."

"Milevsky's discussion of the human capital aspect of an individual's finances offers fresh insight into how a person should structure their personal financial plan. If your human capital resembles a stock, i.e. your ability to earn an income is higher risk, then you should have less equities in your investment portfolio. If you have an almost guaranteed job like Milevsky, a tenured university professor, then you are more like a bond and can take on more risk in your investment portfolio."

RUNNER-UP CHOICES: Tax-Free Savings Accounts, by Gordon Pape; The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, by Alice Schroeder.

SUMMER VACATION PLANS: Golf, gardening, the Shaw Festival, local festivals around Toronto. "Having spent six weeks in Australia and New Zealand this past spring, the travel bug has disappeared for the moment."

TOM CONNOLLY, dividend growth guru and publisher of the Connolly Report newsletter (since 1981).

BOOK: The Investment Zoo: Taming the Bulls and the Bears, by Stephen Jarislowsky.

Mr. Connolly, of Kingston, Ont., is such a big fan of The Investment Zoo that he's devoted an entire page on his website, http://www.dividendgrowth.ca, to the book. He's even compiled a detailed list of page references on various topics. Example: "If you use a financial planner, buy The Investment Zoo and read page 80."

"He's kind of the Canadian Warren Buffett," he said of Mr. Jarislowsky, the legendary money manager. "For the starting investor, this book is full of useful ideas. The material on which stocks to buy, and not buy, is great, as well as the ideas on investment errors and stock analysis."

"A lot of people have written to me and said, 'Thank you for recommending that book. It was just what I was looking for.'"

RUNNER-UP CHOICE: The Single Best Investment: Creating Wealth with Dividend Growth, by Lowell Miller.

SUMMER VACATION PLANS: "Helping our daughter and her husband with their two young children: Julia, 21 months, Zach, six weeks, here, there and on Georgian Bay."

Follow on Twitter: @johnheinzl

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