Sunday, March 10, 2013

Laughing at Wall Street

A Book Review
by Staff Writer Matt Heston

I approached "Laughing at Wall Street" with some trepidation. When I saw a book that offered to "beat the pros" without any formal financial trading, there was that same nagging I get in my head when I see a colorful self-help book or any non-textbook, non-science fiction book with the word quantum in the title. Though the term "too good to be true" is too trite, I did feel like I was looking at a highly exaggerated product. However, I figured if I could get one or two useful pieces of information out of it, then this book would be worth the time.

I was pleasantly surprised when I found that Chris Camillo, the book’s author, took his time and structured the book properly. It was less what he had to say, but how he said it that impressed me. The book is written in a sort of personal style, using anecdotes and very little jargon, which I expected from a book aimed at laymen, but his anecdotes of early successes and missteps in trading aren’t solely used to pad out the book’s length. I’ve read through plenty of similar books meant to entertain while educating where they will commit that very crime, and it was refreshing to read a book that actually had something to say rather than drone on in order to meet a specific word count set by their publisher.

The central premise of the book is that anyone can pick up on market trends and use that to make investment decisions. It was another breath of fresh air to find very few caveats or backtracking involved throughout the book. The author explains his argument and backs it up with multiple sources. Though the cover is pretty flashy, the contents of the book are grounded and it doesn’t oversell itself. This consistency of tone kept me engaged from cover to cover, which is exactly the goal of laymen-oriented books like this. I felt like I could take the knowledge I picked up from this book and start noticing where stocks might be trending.

I think I would have enjoyed this book much less if it outlined any sort of seven-step plan or tried to use any facts or figures to guarantee any certain outcome. I knew exactly what kind of book I was getting into, and was happy to see the author knew what kind of book they were writing. One of the blurbs on the back is “...I’m intrigued. And inspired.” Which I felt was the perfect way to describe “Laughing at Wall Street.” It presents no answers or conclusions, but it very effectively gets the reader excited and thinking about finances and stock trading. It’s a great start for someone who might be completely uninterested in learning about the subject.

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