WHEN INVESTING, it's smart to seek out companies with competitive advantages. But you can develop your own competitive advantage over other investors by reading. Here are two highly regarded classics for your own bookshelf or for holiday-gift-giving consideration:
* One Up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch (Simon & Schuster, $16). Arguably the most engaging investment book ever written. If you've never read it, stop everything and pick up a copy. It could change your life. Advocating buying great companies for the long term, Lynch believes that "any normal person using the customary 3 percent of the brain can pick stocks just as well, if not better than the average Wall Street analyst."
* The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (Collins Business, $23). Warren Buffett calls it "by far the best book about investing ever written," and few value-oriented investors would disagree. Graham lays out a "positive program for common-stock investment" in this comprehensive text. Chapter 20, titled Margin of Safety as the Central Concept of Investment, should be required reading for all investors.