Zen in the Markets by Edward Alen Toppel shares Confessions of a Samurai Trader.
And in this book review, I’m going to tell you what Zen in the Markets is all about. To be honest…
This isn’t your average trading book. I’ve reviewed tons of finance books and none of them have been quite like this. Zen in the Markets provides a unique perspective on the stock market. And I’m excited to tell you why.
Because even though this book was published in 1992, it provides a timeless perspective that I could see myself applying today. Now let me pull back the kimono for you.
Zen in the Markets – Book Summary:
Zen in the Markets was written by professional CBOE options pit trader Edward Allen Toppel. The book was written because on one particular day trading IBM options, he had an enlightening experience. He caught himself in a moment of flow, only to realize it was one of the most profitable days of his career.
From there, Toppel began embracing and studying Zen, in order to better apply it to his trading and become more profitable. And then he wrote this book. So does it work?
I think that’s up to you. Let me explain.
Zen in the Markets provides a really important perspective. The book starts by explaining the different ways your mind and your ego can trick you. It shows how you get in your own way and act against your own best interest in a vain attempt to feel good, or not admit fault.
Besides explaining many of the ways we undermine our own investments, the book ends with some Zen parables, exercises and questions to help you contemplate your own approach to markets, and to life. The author also shares his daily routine and approach to meditation.
Throughout the book, there are also Zen quotes, saying and poems. These are often humorous or insightful and add a nice flavour to the book. One of my favourite is that (paraphrasing) ‘We do not see things as they are, but as we are”
It’s these kind of enlightening ideas that make Zen in the Markets so insightful. And while incorporating the Zen techniques described in the book would required consistent daily practice, I believe the lessons of the book to be very important. The reason is…
Not enough trading books talk about the games that happen inside our head. And that’s a serious impediment to long term success. Zen in the Markets really pulls back the curtain on this area in a succinct and profound way.
Discovering your own Zen in the markets is likely to be an ongoing discovery process that happens one day at a time. Now let me tell you about my favourite part…
The Best Part of Zen in the Markets:
The best part about Zen in the Markets is that the book is so simple. It comes in just under 100 pages, yet it says so much. Seriously…
I’m not sure how he does it, but the author cuts through the noise and gets straight to the point. I have read 500 page books that don’t convey as much wisdom as these short pages. I actually wish it was longer.
I guess that’s why I’ve re-read it five times already. And I learn something new each read. The other great thing about this kind of knowledge is that it really is timeless. It’s wisdom for the ages that kind of hits you over the head.
The only problem with Zen in the Markets is that even the though the insights are so simple, they aren’t always easy to implement. For some reason, we are programmed (via our egos) to get in our own way.
While this book doesn’t offer a trading system or methodology for picking stocks, it does provide very actionable ideas for how you can improve your trading psychology to improve your chance of market success.
Personally, I look forward to re-reading this book on a regular basis, and doing my best to get out of my own way. So by now I think you probably have a pretty good feel for this book. Let’s wrap it up.
Zen in the Markets – The Final Word:
As you probably guessed by now, I’m a big fan of Zen in the Markets. It looks at trading in a way that over 95% of other trading books don’t. It can really help broaden your thinking about the markets and potentially improve your odds of success. For those reasons, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Zen in the Markets for yourself on Amazon.
Of course, if you still aren’t convinced this isn’t the right book for you, you can watch the video book review below to learn even more about Zen in the Markets.