I'm going to focus on books that will give you a good idea of the actual life and profession we lead, as opposed to textbooks that teach you various technical skills and those books that only outline the author's investment philosophy and techniques. These books are easily found in any library or bookstore. What actually is very rare are books that tell you about what the actual experience of working in this business is like. Unfortunately, there are no equivalents to the numerous books describing the authors' experiences in investment banking (John Rolfe and Peter Troob's Monkey Business, Michael Lewis' Liar's Poker, and Frank Partnoy's F.I.A.S.C.O.). Simply put, most buysiders are in this business permanently and nobody is going to write an account of how they misspent their days at a Fidelity or Putnam, especially when they're still working in the business -- and may well have gotten their current position on the strength of their experience at a Fidelity or Putnam.
However, here are some books I've found useful:
Robert Pozen and Sandra Crane. The Mutual Fund Business. (MIT Press, 1998.)
Robert Pozen is the former president of Fidelity Management and Research. This book is a collection of essays and statistics that provide the fundamentals of the business. Not exactly a page-turner, but a valuable primer nonetheless.
Lee Gremillion. A Purely American Invention: The U.S. Open-End Mutual Fund Industry. (National Investment Company Service Association, 2000.)
Gremillion is a partner in PriceWaterhouseCoopers Investment Management consulting group. He was previously a professor at Indiana University and Boston University. Like Pozen's Mutual Fund Business, this book provides the basic info on the business.
Autobiographies and histories:
Roy Neuberger. So Far, So Good: The First 94 Years. (John Wiley & Sons, 2000.)
Roy Neuberger has been on the Street since 1929 and is a co-founder of Boston-based Neuberger & Berman. His autobiography tells of his professional and personal life, in addition to his extensive collection of American modernist paintings.
Martin Sosnoff. Silent Investor, Silent Loser. (Richardson, Steirman & Black.)
Marty Sosnoff is a co-founder of Atalanta / Sosnoff Capital and one of the best thinkers on the Street. In addition to describing his professional life, Marty describes, in-depth, some of the actual investment decisions he has made in the past. Marty is also a prominent collector of American modernist paintings.
~Phil Fisher. Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits. (John Wiley & Sons, 1996.)
Phil Fisher is one of the greatest growth investors in history. This book leads you through the development of his philosophy and firm, as well as describing in-depth some major investment decisions he made.
Victor Niederhoffer. Education of a Speculator. (John Wiley & Sons, 1998.)
Victor runs a hedge fund whose performance has been quite volatile. This book is a charming (though quite eccentric) autobiography. Victor, by the way, collects rare books.
Charles Ellis and James Vertin. Wall Street People: True Stories of Today's Masters and Moguls. (John Wiley & Sons, 2001.)
Ellis and Vertin both have had an inestimable impact on modern portfolio management. This book has interviews with some of the most prominent figures in modern investing: Jim Rogers, George Soros, Warren Buffett and Larry Tisch are just a few of the people they talk to here.
Roger Lowenstein. When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management. (Random House, 2000.)
Lowenstein, a Wall Street Journal reporter, describes the founding and eventual crash of the only hedge fund ever to have several Nobel Prize winners on staff. Fascinating.
Jack Dreyfus. The Lion of Wall Street: The Two Lives of Jack Dreyfus. (Regnery, 1996.)
Jack Dreyfus founded Dreyfus and was a pioneer in the mutual fund industry. In this amusing autobiography, Jack recounts his professional life. Due to an onset of clinical depression, Dreyfus began a life-long crusade to encourage the FDA to approve the drug Dilantin, which description makes up the second half of the book.
Diana Henriques. Fidelity's World: The Secret Life and Public Power of the Mutual Fund Giant. (Touchstone, 1997.)
Henriques discusses the history, business practices and inner life of the industry leader.
Preparing for a career in investment management requires the same research as any other field. Any career counselor worth his or her salt will tell you to have some idea what you're getting into. So what are some resources for the future money manager?