Less well known than Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger has nonetheless been a key factor in Berkshire Hathaway’s phenomenal success over the past few decades.

Munger is an avid reader. By reading books in many fields, he has developed multidisciplinary knowledge which, in his words, has served him particularly well in investing. He said, “Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading; cultivate curiosity and strive to become a little wiser every day.”

According to him, “As long as I have a book in my hand, I don’t feel like I’m wasting time”. He reads newspapers, magazines and is fond of biographies to learn from famous people in history. Equally important, he believes that reading countless biographies taught him what not to do to succeed in life.

Curiously, Mr. Munger does not read works of fiction, novels.

Incidentally, this is one of the few points on which I disagree with Munger! I believe that novels are both an exceptional source of entertainment, and many of them allow us to learn, often without realizing it!

If investing is as much about emotions and psychology as it is about numbers and calculations, novels can arguably help us become better investors by helping us better understand others. In addition, many novels are based on history and allow us to better understand it through endearing characters.

So here are some novels that I’ve particularly enjoyed over the past few months that have earned a four- or five-star rating on my personal rankings!

The Border Trilogyby Cormack McCarthy (★★★★★). The first book I read by this American author, The Road, moved me and inspired me to read several more of his novels. The border trilogyincludes three novels: All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing and Cities of the Plain. McCarthy’s books are so vividly descriptive of the landscapes and customs of the desert of southern Texas and Mexico that you would think you were there. McCarthy presents us with hard and touching stories, like the country where they take place.

Voyez comme on danse, by the French writer Jean d’Ormesson (★★★★). This is a superb novel through which we tour the history of the 20th century through the friends of a character who has just died.

The Magician of Auschwitz, by José Rodrigues dos Santos (★★★★). Countless novels have been written about the Holocaust. This one, from the Portuguese author, offers a detailed (and harsh) perspective on life in the Nazi extermination camps.

The Source, by James A. Michener (★★★★★). A few months ago, a friend warmly recommended reading James Michener, an American writer who died in 1997, and who wrote about fifty novels, including several historical novels based on exhaustive research. The first one I read was memorable, The Source (1965), an epic novel based on the history of the Jewish people, from their beginnings a few thousand years ago to the creation of Israel in 1948. More recently, I read Poland (★★★★), by the same author, which I also enjoyed very much. The history of the Polish people is littered with bitter defeats and reconstruction. This story takes on a whole new dimension considering Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine.

Finally, I recently started reading the latest historical novels by Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt, a French author whom I have enjoyed for many years. The series of eight books (three of which have been published to date) will form La Traversée des temps perdus. The first three volumes are: Les paradis perdus (★★★★), which tells the story of humans from the Neolithic era until the Great Flood; La porte du ciel (★★★★), tells the story of Mesopotamia, including that of Babel and Abraham, patriarch at the source of the three great monotheistic religions. I am currently reading the third volume, Soleil sombre, whose story takes place in the time of Pharaonic Egypt.

L’enfant et l’oiseau, by Durian Sukegawa (★★★★). I really like this Japanese author whose books seemed very original to me, particularly Les délices de Tokyo (★★★★★).

There are times when I get tired of reading books about finance, investing, or other specific areas. During these periods, I immerse myself in reading novels, which allows me to learn in another way, without really realizing it.

I will be taking a break from blogging until early September. In the meantime, I leave you in good hands with my colleague Jean-Philippe Legault who will take over next week. Happy summer and happy reading!