A truly useful, if less than sexy, resource for the novice investor

Harriman House, £16.99

Phillip Salter

IF you own a handful of UK shares but lack a strategy beyond: “I like to shop at Tesco, so I bought a few of its shares,” this book will help you build a financial future upon more secure foundations. Written without superfluous information or unwanted stylistic profligacy, these 256 pages will give you the direction and confidence to build a share portfolio.

By limiting itself to UK equities, the scope is manageable. As it is built around case studies, novice investors will find that by the end of the book they have acquired familiarity with the FTSE 100 that they previously lacked. This will make reading finance news more familiar for those lost in a fog of unfamiliarity. The practicality of the historical examples are the real strength of the book, making it easy for readers to dip in and out of the different sections.

The value of this book is inversely correlated with your prior knowledge of UK equities. An expert would and should be put off by the title alone, but for those new to shares, it will prove its worth as an accessible font of knowledge to sip from over the course of their first year of building up a portfolio.

Gibson Square, £17.99

Alex Deane

The amusing cover of this book, which depicts a dwarf John Bercow sitting on the lap of a giant Mrs (Sally) Bercow, is eye-catching, but does Friedman’s work something of a disservice. Because this is a seriously researched volume, drawing on discussions with over 100 interviewees. Liberated from interference by its “unauthorised” status, the book’s in-the-know informers were able to spill the beans – and they spilt in spades.

The research is invaluable – not only because it tells us things we didn’t know (most especially about Mrs Bercow, and I shan’t steal Friedman’s thunder beyond that) but also because it bottoms out and gives evidence for things we might think we know already. There are new anecdotes and nuggets enough to please every politico, too, and to see Bercow’s unpopularity spelled out in this way is quite an experience.

Most of all, this book is a pleasure to read. The writing is lucid, the analysis clear and forthright, and the judgments are fair. Friedman has a bright authorial future, even if Bercow’s speakership will forever be something of a joke.