John Bogle Reading List: 5 Books by the Father of Index Funds

Vanguard founder John C. Bogle, who changed investing forever for ordinary Americans, wrote a dozen books over his lifetime, selling over 1.1 million copies worldwide.

“I don’t think there’s an author who spent greater care on the words he chose,” an editor who worked with Bogle told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “When he did a book, he was so meticulous; he’d rewrite and rewrite. He always went the extra mile to make there wasn’t a single person who could not understand what he was saying.”

"Saint Jack," as he was referred to by many, made it his mission to educate people about the benefits of index funds and not paying high fees to mutual fund managers. These are some of the best books he authored.

John Bogle

Investopedia / Hugo Lin

1. Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor

The first edition of this classic was published in 1999, but Bogle wrote a completely updated second edition a decade later to help investors understand mutual funds and how his simple and low cost investing strategy can be used to outperform stock pickers. 

Don Phillips, managing director and president of fund research at Morningstar, said: "it may well be the best book ever on mutual funds." Among the other countless fans of this book Jim Cramer and Byron Wien. Michael Batnick, director of research at Ritholtz Wealth Management, included it in his list of the best investment books.

2. The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns

This 304-page hardcover book is one of Wiley Publishing's Little Book investing series and has proved to be an incredibly popular tool for investors. In this investing bible, Bogle presents his ideas succinctly for the layman.

Warren Buffett advised in his 2014 letter to shareholders that rather than listen to "siren songs" of advisors, "investors – large and small – should instead read Jack Bogle’s The Little Book of Common Sense Investing."

Bogle said even he needed to be reminded of his own advice in trying times. “How do I feel when the market goes down 50%?” he said when he spoke with Tony Robbins. “Honestly, I feel miserable. I get knots in my stomach. So what do I do? I get out a couple of my books on ‘staying the course’ and reread them!”

We imagine he grabbed this one to go over a few key mantras.

3. The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism

John Bogle was a vocal critic of Wall Street and the American financial system, and in this book the insider revealed what he knew about the unethical practices of money managers and corporate executives that cost millions of small investors.

The New York Times called it "yet another important contribution in an illustrious career," and it was longlisted for the Financial Times and McKinsey's Business Book of the Year Award in 2005. 

4. John Bogle on Investing: The First 50 Years

Bogle's senior thesis at Princeton University was titled "The Economic Role of the Investment Company," and it contained the very ideas that Vanguard would be built on. It is included in this compilation of his best speeches. 

Another great resource for his speeches is his official website (a Wordpress blog he started in 2006) that has transcripts for as far back as 1984.

5. Stay the Course: The Story of Vanguard and the Index Revolution 

At the time of publication, Vanguard had more $5 trillion in assets under management, but the road to that number wasn't easy. Early on it was dubbed "un-American" and mocked by Wall Street professionals.

Named after his most iconic piece of advice, Bogle's last book is a memoir that traces the history of the Vanguard Group and provides new details. He addresses his critics, his regrets and even his Vanguard successors.

Article Sources
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  15. Vanguard. "A look back at the life of Vanguard’s founder."

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