The most serious of the econ books is Beating the Business Cycle by Lakshman Achuthan and Anirvan Banerji. Anticipating when the business cycle is about to turn is a trick most economists are exceedingly poor at; Achuthan and Banerji show you how to do it. If you find that the previous two econ books whet your appetite, then consider this your graduate-level reading.

Technicals

You learn technical analysis not by reading about it, but by looking at thousands of charts over the course of many years. That makes recommending any books on TA challenging. I picked the following because they either illuminated a particular segment of TA or were extremely accessible to the nontechnician.

Getting Started in Technical Analysis by Market Wizards author Jack Schwager covers all the basics: moving averages, trend lines, patterns, support and resistance. Another good book to get started with TA is The Visual Investor by John J. Murphy. Either of these will give you a broad overview of technical analysis.

My favorite of the new TA books is Trend Following by Michael Covel. Straightforward, easy to read, this book is rich in details about why trend following is such a successful strategy amongst some of the world's best-performing hedge funds.

How to Make Money in Stocks by William J. O'Neil. O'Neil, founder of Investor's Business Daily, created a quantitative and technical-based trading system called CANSLIM. Although I am not a follower of this methodology, it has much to offer to the novice. If you are an IBD reader or are curious about his philosophy, this book is a good place to start.

I've read several books that RealMoney's Gary B. Smith has recommended, including How Charts Can Help You in the Stock Market by William L. Jiler, and How I Made 2,000,000 in the Stock Market by Nicolas Darvas. I would suggest both of them to readers who want more details and background to how several successful technicians have made their fortunes in the past.

I occasionally find myself looking at a chart and wondering what the heck it means. That's why I have a small reference library on my desk. It includes:
  • Technical Analysis from A to Z by Steven B. Achelis;
  • Encyclopedia of Chart Patterns by Thomas N. Bulkowski;
  • Japanese Candlestick Charting Techniques by Steve Nison;
  • Technical Analysis of the Financial Markets by John J. Murphy.
  • If you liked this article you might like

    Ritholtz: Boycott Overstock.com

    Ritholtz: Boycott Overstock.com

    Ritholtz: Ten Bullish Charts, Signals and Indicators

    Ritholtz: Ten Bullish Charts, Signals and Indicators

    RealMoney Extra: Be Cautious With Builders

    RealMoney Extra: Be Cautious With Builders

    15 Ways to Check Data

    15 Ways to Check Data

    What Investors Need to Know About Historical Data

    What Investors Need to Know About Historical Data