The Options-Junkie Wish List

Gifts for those more interested in calls than Christmas.
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And so it's Christmas ... and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, and what better gift to give your loved ones than some thick tomes on options?

We've had many requests for ideas on how investors can educate themselves, and since it's the season of giving, it's worth going over some of the best resources.

Here's to the holidays, and keep the options questions coming to

optionsforum@thestreet.com.

And To All A Good Night

I need to learn about options and will have to rely on a book to accomplish this. Which do you recommend? I would like to learn it all, from the basic (simple mechanics of using options) to the advanced (how they are priced) to the subjective (best strategies). Ran Whittle

Ran,

We all need to learn more about options, but you don't have to bury yourself in a dark corner of the library to do it.

Most options books can be very confusing, very quickly. The

Options Industry Council has pamphlets that explain the basics in a simple way. After digesting those, move on to the hardcovers.

There are also plenty of resources on the Internet (

Brad "Doc Options" Zigler

outlined many of them in a recent

Options Forum), and kind souls such as those at the Options Industry Council sponsor live-and-in-person seminars on real option exchange floors.

What with the advent of electronic options trading, it might be worth a visit just to tell the grandkids about it.

"Sonny, when I was your age trading options..."

By March, you should be ready for the big hitters.

We've mentioned him before, we

chatted with him this week: Bernie Schaeffer, chairman of

Schaeffer's Investment Research

, is also the author of

The Option Advisor: Wealth-Building Techniques Using Equity & Index Options.

DeMark On Day Trading Options is one of the newer additions to the options bookshelf, but daytrading by any other name is still dangerous.

The two bibles for options investors are Lawrence McMillan's

Options As A Strategic Investment and Sheldon Natenberg's

Option Volatility & Pricing.

Our old options guy,

Dan Colarusso

, is a big fan of James Bittman's

Options for the Stock Investor because it connects basic investing ideas to options plays.

The Options Wish List

We asked, you responded.

At least one

TheStreet.com

subscriber got through with his eyes open perusing a recent

Options Forum and noticed a reader had asked where to find the implied volatility of an individual stock option.

So we've passed on a free, yes,

free

Web site for pricing options hosted by the

Philadelphia Stock Exchange

. We've tested it out here at Options Forum and it appears to be accurate.

Another reader stumbled upon

www.optionclub.com and found it to be "very helpful with any strategy you are considering." The site also has implied and historical volatility for most equity and index options, and could be used for a quick look or when you don't have time to load the Nobel laureate

Black-Scholes

model. It's also free.

Here's Some More Holiday Cheer:

Thanks for the column "A Lesson on Limiting LEAPS Losses." Regarding reader Bob Consigli's question on the volatility index's trading history, charts of the market's volatility (as well as numerical data) can be found on Yahoo!'s quote site. Ben Richter

In reference to your recent piece on put/call ratios Quote.com provides up-to-the-minute put/call ratios, one for the OEX and one for "All stocks." From its home page, punch in the symbol PUTCALL.OEX in the quote field to get an OEX put/call ratio quote, or just PUTCALL to get a put/call ratio for all U.S. stocks. It's not a perfect match to what the Chicago Board Options Exchange reports, but it gives a good estimate. Unfortunately, its servers seem to get bogged down and show blank charts, particularly over the weekend, but usually if you hit refresh a few times a missing chart will appear. This doesn't occur as much during the week, and the quotes themselves don't are not subject to this problem. Rennie Yang

Remember,

TSC

does not vouch for or curry favor with one Web site or another.

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