“Reminiscences of a Stock Operator”

It’s hard to say anything new about this classic, timeless text. So why bother with a book review? Well first of all I like doing them and second of all I think everybody gets something subtly different out of these classics, so what did I get out of this one, read on and ye shall see!

Like everyone this is probably one of the first three books I was recommended when I started getting interested in trading. Was I guilty of shrugging if off as out of date, irrelevant to what I was studying and not really that interesting? Of course I was, like most are. I don’t feel bad about that and others shouldn’t either, it’s to be expected really. What  I do feel bad about however is that I continued to be recommended this book by everyone I spoke to, everything I read and watched about trading and still didn’t get around to reading it for nearly a decade. When hugely influential traders and investors are telling you that this book has some priceless material contained within its admittedly ageing covers, it most probably does.

The main reason why I passed off reading this at the beginning of my adventures into the trading had a lot to do with being hyper focused on Forex. As that was how I was snared into the net of becoming an aspiring trader I pretty much discounted anything that wasn’t to do with that particular market. Big mistake. I think people justify ignoring anything outside of their immediate sphere of reference by saying that they don’t want to confuse themselves with ideas from other markets or disciplines, where as in reality I think they just haven’t come to terms with the fact that they are subconsciously searching for that magic chalice that will guide them to riches, and if they read a book about another market, or about something other than the myriad of technical analysis ideas they are learning then they know this seemingly irrelevant title won’t deliver them to the instant and easy, set and forget profits they are seeking.

Of course, once you get a bit further down the road in the trading game you start to learn that chalice doesn’t exist and so you open up to ideas and concepts from different areas and you start to listen to the wise wherever they are and from whichever trading tribe they happen to belong to. For me (and I say this a lot) the first time that happened to me was reading “One Good Trade”, it would be a long time till one book had an equal effect and that book was Reminiscences of a Stock Operator.

So why did I in particular find this book to be so eye opening. Once again it’s because I found it to confirm certain things that I had recently learned about the way markets move and the fact that the thing that largely governs these moves are the emotions, fears and wishes of it’s participants. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (ROSO) is yet another collection of lessons, each chapter a memory retold. To say I learned a stack  from this book would be a slight misrepresentation, what would be more honest would be to say that with each passing chapter I felt like I was having the recent learnings I’d already made reconfirmed to me but it was being done from a hundred years ago!

What is amazing about this particular book is that is still so relevant. It’s lessons on how size moves the market are not only clear but repeated time and again throughout the book. The section where we hear of Deacon White’s sugar trade jumped out at me as as classic example of the market absorbing orders at certain price points. These are things that had I read this book when I first got into trading I’m not so sure I would have appreciated.

What I love about this book is that it’s one to come back to, I’ve noted so many pages in my Kindle that I can re read at whenever I feel I need inspiring as it reads so wonderfully anecdotally, I think thats great. I also love that while you can get as deep into the details as you like, you don’t need to memorise the details of each example Lefevre describes in order to either enjoy or get a lot out of the story.

As we progress from start to finish It’s an amazing journey in how a trader grows from the early mistakes of starting out to the confidence of being on top, right through the heartache and struggle of losing it all. We also see deals be made to stake a comeback, how the dark side of the trading world with it’s shady transactions and bullying tactics were a part of the market back then as they most likely still are today on Wall Street. It’s a not so rags to riches and back again story which goes to highlight what can be achieved over the course of a decent time horizon and given that this was all done without the leverage we often see today is also something I find remarkable.

From what I’ve already said it’s clear I got a lot out of ROSO, but I don’t want to give the impression it’s helped me make money. In all honesty I don’t think any book does. I don’t even think they should, or are supposed to. The reason I like to read trading books aside from trying to learn as much about the game and its wider associations as I can I just find it helps me keep in that headspace of trading when life is dragging you into other things. Having those ideas mull over in your head, hearing those pieces of terminology and market parlance bounce back and forth between your temples like that ping pong computer game from the 80’s just makes me feel like I’m still plugged into the game, even when I might be anything but. To me these books are a bit of a lifeline, but most of all I just enjoy reading them.

Should you read this because there is so much hype about it, of course you should, should you read it because it’s full of great generalities about trading and the market that will help build confidence in the trading models you’ve come to believe in, absolutely. Most of all though, give it a read because you can’t be arsed to read the dishes and you fancy something that’s both informative and fun to read.

I’ll most likely have said nothing new about ROSO that hasn’t already been said a million times before, I’ve probably not even made much sense but I’ve enjoyed writing about it so I do hope you’ve enjoyed reading the review.

As ever, any points questions or comments feel free to say hi.

Thanks for reading.


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