“Fascinating, often amusing… one of those much-needed reminders that we are the architects of how we live.”

General Stanley McChrystal

Author, Risk, A User’s Guide

Soul in the Game is a beautiful way to search for the lost value of happiness, strength and health.”

Wim Hof

Author, The Wim Hof Method

Soul In The Game by Vitaliy Katsenelson

“Vitaliy knows how to tell a story. This book reads like a conversation with Vitaliy: deep, insightful, inquisitive and civilized.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Author, The Black Swan

“Vitaliy Katsenelson has been singled out by financial media for his brilliant investment strategies, but perhaps even more impressive are his philosophical writings.”

Carl Bernstein

Author, All the Presidents Men

Order today to get
4 entirely new chapters
(not found in the book)

Step 1: Order your copy of Soul in the Game

or order on Bookshop.org

Step 2: Claim your free bonus

Just forward your order receipt to bonus@soulinthegame.net to receive 4 new pieces (25 pages of content!)

  1. Fiddler on the Roof and Value Investing:
    A reflection on the creative process through the story of one of my favorite value investing pieces.
  2. On Why:
    The difference between wanting to accomplish something and the process of getting there + the importance of knowing your “why”.
  3. Data-Driven Hiring:
    A story of how we tried to turn an incredibly subjective and ineffective task into a data-driven process.
  4. The Chess Saga Continues:
    How Hannah’s growing passion for chess has led to friendships we  would have never otherwise made.

“Vitaliy knows how to tell a story. This book reads like a conversation with Vitaliy: deep, insightful, inquisitive and civilized.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Author, The Black Swan

Soul in the Game is a beautiful way to search for the lost value of happiness, strength and health.”

Wim Hof

Author, The Wim Hof Method

“Vitaliy Katsenelson has been singled out by financial media for his brilliant investment strategies, but perhaps even more impressive are his philosophical writings.”

Carl Bernstein

Author, All the Presidents Man

Wow! This is surprisingly good. Honestly I was suspicious (why should I listen to a money guy talk about life?) but I liked it a lot! Vitaliy brings an insightful, fresh perspective to the question of how to live life. He is caring and considerate, with a really engaging writing style.

Derek Sivers

Author, How To Live

About the book

Soul in the Game is a book of inspiring stories and hardwon lessons on how to live a meaningful life, crafted by investor and writer Vitaliy Katsenelson. Drawing from the lives of classical composers, ancient Stoics, and contemporary thinkers, Katsenelson weaves together a tapestry of practical wisdom that has helped him overcome his greatest challenges: in work, family, identity, health – and in dealing with success, failure, and more.


Part autobiography, part philosophy, part creativity manual, Soul in the Game is a unique and vulnerable exploration of what works, and what doesn’t, in the attempt to shape a fulfilling and happy life.

or order on Bookshop.org

A fascinating, often amusing, occasionally jarring journey – just like life itself. Vitaliy Katsenelson’s Soul in the Game is one of those much-needed reminders that although we have no control over when we’re born or when we’ll die, we are the architects of how we live.

General Stanley McChrystal

Author, Risk: A User’s Guide

I vividly remember the moment when I decided to write this book. Now, looking back at it, I am very proud of this moment as it was a completely selfless one.

Let me tell you what happened. It was early in the morning of August 10th, 2020. I had just finished writing an essay. At the time I didn’t have a title for it, but in the book it’s called “Creative Rollercoaster”.

This essay started out as a short note about Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence that was going to accompany one of my investment articles. As I started reading about this piece, I was touched by the emotional rollercoaster Tchaikovsky suffered when he composed it. I caught myself thinking that Tchaikovsky’s emotional journey looked very familiar. I don’t compose music, but I write. Both are creative processes where you try to fish content out of your subconscious. What started as a short piece that was going to accompany music started to turn into a lengthy essay about creativity and writing. After I finished writing it, I realized that this essay could actually help others. But this was not the only life (non-investment) essay I had written. What if I put the life essays I had written over the last fifteen years into a book? This selfless thought “it could help others” is the one I am proud of.

I started looking through my essays. I was going to self-publish them. Nine days later I received an email from Craig Pearce, an editor at Harriman House, a British publisher that had published books by my friends Lawrence Cunningham and Morgan Housel. Craig and I had communicated a few years earlier about possibly publishing an investment book I was working on, Intellectual Investor. (I have yet to finish it.)

I told Craig that I was working on a very different book and sent him a sample. I was expecting a very polite (he is British, after all) response along the lines of “Vitaliy, this looks great. Good luck!” To my surprise, Harriman House expressed interest in publishing it. Now I was a bit confused. I started to question their sanity. I thought there must be something wrong with them. What kind of joint could they be running if they wanted to publish this?

I reached out to Lawrence and Morgan and asked them about their experience with Harriman House. Harriman House had just published Morgan’s Psychology of Money, which became an international bestseller and quite deservingly sold a million copies. Both gave Harriman House glowing reviews and confirmed that there was nothing wrong with either Craig or the publisher.

I was excited to get the book out into the world, and we agreed to a publishing date of March 2021. We were in the middle of the lockdown, so I had plenty of time on my hands. I worked mornings, evenings, and weekends on the book. At first, I was mostly rewriting existing published and unpublished essays. Then the writer in me took over and I wrote many new ones.

Everything was going according to plan, and then…

Well, I stumbled on Stoicism. It was love at first sight. I wanted to learn and to write about it and share it with the world. I told Craig that this detour might take a few months. I read everything I could get my hands on. This ended up delaying the book by about a year, but I don’t regret it. I ended up writing a book inside a book about Stoic philosophy.

Soul in the Game – The Art of a Meaningful Life ended up being a very personal and autobiographical book. But I truly hope that despite its being personal, Soul in the Game becomes not my but your book. I can only hope that I carried the selfless intention that triggered me to write it throughout the book.

I am finally directly impacted by the pandemic. Normally it takes four weeks to do a print run of a book. Thanks to Covid, and for reasons that are still unclear to me, it now takes four months. If the hardback sells out in June it will take until September to get new copies printed.

That’s why I strongly encourage you to order it now – otherwise you may need to wait until September.

Plus, if you order and send your confirmation to bonus@soulinthegame.net, I’ll send you four entirely new chapters (25 pages of content) to read now.

or order on Bookshop.org

Nothing less than a manual on how to live a good and meaningful life and achieve those most elusive and yet desirable of all states: balance and selfmastery. This book has changed me, and it will change you as well.

Robert Greenberg

Composer and Author,
How to Listen to Great Music

Vitaliy has captured much of the awe I hold for composer creators and he uses that insight to offer positive, constructive steps for us today who want to live life to the fullest.

Marin Alsop

Music Director Laureate,
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Vitaliy Katsenelson’s engagingly readable life-a-log, Soul in the Game, parses so many spirits it will benefit most everyone. Wisdom, life-long learning, human capital, struggles, music composers, immigrant life, philosophy, family life, stoicism and so much more—presents for everyone in 76 enjoyable bite sized bursts. Have fun!

Ken Fisher

Founder & Executive Chairman,
Fisher Investments

Superb guidance on how to unravel what’s really important in life. There’s a gem of wisdom in each short, snappy chapter.

Professor Jeremy J. Siegel

Professor of Finance, Wharton School, and Author, Stocks for the Long Run

Touching, honest and insightful—it’s hard to put this down

Morgan Housel

The Psychology of Money

Part eclectic autobiography of a diverse life, part endorsement of critical thinking, part investing principles, and part how-to guide on how to be a complete human. Soul in the Game is always interesting, often funny, and at times profound.

Greg Maffei

CEO, Liberty Media

Vitaliy Katsenelson has been singled out by financial media for his brilliant investment strategies, but perhaps even more impressive are his philosophical writings. Soul in the Game is no ordinary self-help tome. I’ve never read anything quite like it: a collection of wonderful observations and insights about Vitaliy’s native Russia (he emigrated to the US in the 1990s), parenting, living one day at a time, and – especially – creativity: in business, classical music, and art. Vitaliy’s life is an integrated one, from which we can all draw some surprising and (like his investment approach) contrarian notions. This book is worth anyone’s time.

Carl Bernstein

Author, All the President’s Men

Reader Reviews on Amazon

Saint Louis Cardinal fan
Saint Louis Cardinal fan
June 24, 2022.
Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life: Great advice for a rewarding life I retired ten years ago from a 45-year career that involved research and writing. I wish I had this book sooner. There is so much in Vitaliy’s life - his views on the subconscious mind, brain health, visualization, maximizing use of time, adding value to the world, and achieving a meaningful life – that are relevant to any career.I put off starting reading, thinking I needed a large block of time. Once I started it took me less than two days. It easily kept me continuing reading to the end.
John Flynn II
John Flynn II
June 24, 2022.
Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life: You will find great ideas to live by. You can find some great ideas to live by written by a thoughtful man. I met Vitally at a investment conference a few years ago. Since then I’ve occasionally read his emails that are very well constructed. This is the first book of his I’ve read and I’m pleasantly surprised by the topic and the quality of the thinking and writing. This book dives into the mental development side of investment and thinking. The development of psychology of a investor is as important as learning the fundamentals of analysis. Vitally carries on a tradition of well read great thinker in value investing like Benjamin Graham, Charlie Munger, and Warren Buffett. You don’t have to be a investor to learn from or enjoy this book it’s great for any life long learner.
Jenny Reviews Stuff
Jenny Reviews Stuff
June 23, 2022.
Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life: Enjoyable read filled with insights on living a more meaningful life I had the good fortune to read an advance copy of Vitaliy’s “Soul in the Game,” and I loved it! Vitaliy does a masterful job of taking his life experiences from growing up in Russia, moving to the US, raising children, learning Stoicism, and many other sources to give over practical lessons on life. His writing style is engaging, and his stories are eminently relatable. He shares so many great insights on how to lead a meaningful life. Well worth the read.
June 23, 2022.
Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life: The Real Deal Vitaliy Katsenelson is, despite his youth (relative to me, at least!) an old soul, wise far beyond his years: someone who is able to frame his life and experience in such a way as to influence and improve the lives and experiences of his readers. This is a special book by a special person.
John A
John A
June 22, 2022.
Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life: Soul in the Game is Beyond Entertaining… Soul in the Game is beyond entertaining, engaging, and awe-inspiring. Vitaliy has delivered an irresistible memoir, and so much more, worthy of readers everywhere. All that’s left to do, is simply enjoy it!
Renee Lynn
Renee Lynn
June 22, 2022.
Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life: Buy the book, you will not be disappointed..! I really enjoyed this book and laughed a lot. Every day it helps you to realize gratitude and helps with positivity. Buy a few of these for gifts, it will be a great gift for friends and family.
Andy Ferguson
Andy Ferguson
June 22, 2022.
Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life: Worth Your Time and Money “Soul in the Game” is a refreshing and unique book that is both personal and global. Vitaliy’s writing style is easy to follow and appealing, with chapters broken down into brief snippets that are easy to digest and allow the reader to knock off a little at a time. His background as a Russian émigré is interesting, and his assimilation into American society and business from a standing start as a young adult is both inspirational and aspirational.There are many relatable entries in this book that range the gamut from diet discipline to interacting successfully with people and their wide range of human emotions. I have no doubt Vitaliy’s skill as a storyteller lends itself to his success as an investment manager, and he offers a good balance of advice that features both humility and obvious skill that would serve anyone well.It is very hard to maintain an honest passion for everything we touch in life, but Vitaliy’s words will resonate with any parent, traveler, investor, student, and entrepreneur. At the same time, wise counsel about learning to not dwell on things in life we cannot control that is featured in the section on “stoicism” is alone worth the price of admission. A great value for the $28.99 price tag!
Gary Mishuris
Gary Mishuris
June 22, 2022.
Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life: This book will alter your perspective on how to live a meaningful life Soul in the Game is not just a window into Vitaliy's life. It's an inspiring perspective on how to pursue your life with passion and meaning. Whatever your path, you will benefit from reading this book.
June 22, 2022.
Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life: Interesting and thought provoking A wonderful and easy to read meditation about many different things that are important in life, from raising children, to leadership, to the difference between art and craft, to philosophy, to classical music, and many more. I have read some of the chapters before in Vitaliy's e-mails (e.g., his thoughts and experiences raising his children and his writings about classical music), but re-reading them in this book gave me some new insights into the topics. My life experience is in some ways parallels his and that may be one of the reasons this book resonated with me. I learned the most from the sections about stoic philosophy, which is something I have read about superficially in college but was too busy (or too young) to really understand and internalize it. I wish I have really encountered and studied it much earlier in life, but better late than never. I gave the book to my children to read, learn and contemplate. The only thing that was very different from my own life experience, and somewhat surprised me, was that Vitaliy seems to go though his life adventures (whether traveling, skiing, going to the opera, etc.) with his children and sometimes with his brother and father but without his wife. I kept wondering why this is the case. All-in-all I really enjoyed reading this book.
H. Choi
H. Choi
June 21, 2022.
Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life: Makes You Think About Life and That is Worth the Price of the Book So I read Vitaliy because of his writings on investments. But bought this book because I appreciate his insights in non-investment. I could say that all of life is about investing, just not necessarily financial. In this way, I appreciate Vitaliy's insights and thoughts. Made me rethink my own work and the idea of being a master craftsman. There are certain books which make me think and make me journal more to flesh out my own reaction to the work. This book has done that many times and that is high praise. I read a lot and listen to audiobooks/podcasts at 3x the speed. So not common that I think ideas are fresh and need to be fleshed out further in my writing, but this one does.One view I do have is that the meaning of life comes from one's belief. He seems to elevate some things more than I would because my beliefs are rooted in my Christian beliefs. Not a knock on this work. Just a different belief system and point of view. I still appreciate reading his point of view because it makes me think and evaluate even how I live out my life. I appreciate Stoic philosophy as well. A coworker asked how that lines up with my Christian beliefs and I said Stoicism isn't the core of my beliefs. If anything, it helps me live out my Christian life - I am just not rooted in Stoics but find it helpful.For someone that has read Nassim Taleb's series of books, this reminds me of that. Makes you think and found it insightful.I bought the book with my own money. I did a pre-order and so got an early copy from Vitaliy by sending in my receipt in case anyone is wondering about timing.

About Vitaliy Katsenelson

Vitaliy Katsenelson was born in Murmansk, USSR, and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1991. After joining Denver-based value investment firm IMA in 1997, Vitaliy became Chief Investment Officer in 2007, and CEO in 2012. Vitaliy has written two books on investing and is an award-winning writer. Known for his uncommon common sense, Forbes Magazine called him “The New Benjamin Graham.”


He’s written for publications including Financial Times, Barron’s, Institutional Investor and Foreign Policy. His articles are also published on his website, ContrarianEdge, and in audio format on his Intellectual Investor Podcast. Vitaliy lives in Denver with his wife and three kids, where he loves to read, listen to classical music, play chess, and write about life, investing, and music. Soul in the Game is his third book, and first noninvesting book.

Vitaliy Katsenelson

Soul in the Game is a wonderful compilation of cogent observations and life strategies, derived from the author’s unique personal journey. From classical music to the Classics themselves, Vitaliy Katsenelson both educates and inspires.

Jim Chanos

President, Kynikos Associates

A rare read worth relishing. Taking threads from markets, music, art, philosophy, personal history, and universal humanity, Vitaliy weaves a tapestry worthy of kings and teaches us how to “go long” the scarcest asset of all: making meaning.

Josh Wolfe

Founding Partner & Managing Director, Lux Capital

Vitaliy Katsenelson’s craft is investing, his art is writing and his passion is to live a meaningful life. All are abundantly in evidence in Soul in the Game. Part memoir, part meditation, part self-help, with mini courses on Stoic philosophy and classical music, this book is personal, quirky, and marvelous. Invest some time with Vitaliy and you will be richer for it.

Bill Miller

CIO, Chairman and Portfolio Manager,

Miller Value Funds

A wise and irreverent narrative, replete with humor, life lessons and philosophical insights, which amply demonstrates that being a successful investor and a compelling writer are not mutually exclusive.

Leon G. Cooperman

Chairman and CEO,

Omega Family Office

Table of Contents


Introduction – How to Read This Book


Student of Life
  • Born in Russia, Made in America
  • Soul in the Game
  • Speechless (Future) Father
  • Here She Is
  • This Is What Happiness Feels Like
  • Why Do I Torture My Kids… with Classical Music?
  • Reading and Listening
  • There Is No I in Hannah (But There Are Two in Vitaliy)
  • Girls’ Gambit
  • My Russian Book
  • Parents of La Mancha


Inhaling the World
  • I Left My Heart…
  • Santa Fe: “Remember This”
  • Inhaling Europe


One Day at a Time
  • I Don’t Eat Desserts
  • The 8%
  • My Crash
  • I Don’t Eat Pork
  • Attend a Party in Your Own Head
  • Dale Carnegie – Better Late than Never
  • You Are Responsible for What You Have Tamed
  • Set Your Egg Timer to Six Months
  • Personal Finance Advice That Changed My Life


Stoicism – The Philosophy for Life
Stoicism: Part 1 – Operating System
  • Knowing and Doing
  • Dichotomy of Control
  • Event, Judgment, Reaction Framework
  • Negative Visualization
  • Last Time
  • Reframing
  • Temporary Insanity
  • Each Day Is a Separate Life
  • What Others Think
  • Insults
  • In Beta
  • Go Ahead, Covet Your Neighbor’s Wife
  • The False Sophistication of Sophists
  • Creating Stoic Subroutines in the Subconscious
  • Cold (and Warm) Showers
  • You Want to Be? Do


Stoicism: Part 2 – Values and Goals

  • Material Success
  • Always Being Right
  • “If This, Then…”
  • A Twist: Applying “If This, Then…” to Form Habits
  • Good Values Start with Good Problems
  • What Pain Are You Willing to Sustain?
  • Good Values
  • Tranquility in Motion
  • A Story of Four Books
  • One More Thing


Soul in Creativity
  • Don’t Let Your Environment Control You
  • Time Does Not Scale
  • Abracadabra
  • Opera. Pain. And Investing. (Or, What We Should Learn From Pain)
  • On Writing
  • The AC/DC Effect
  • Creative Rollercoaster


Melody of Life
  • Why I Write About Composers
  • Tchaikovsky – Master of Emotions
  • In the Shadow of Others
  • How Franz Liszt Revolutionized the Piano and Classical Music
  • The Two Sides of Chopin
  • Fantastic Fantastique
  • Bruckner – Humble, Odd, Sex-Deprived Religious Fanatic


The Art of a Meaningful Life


Intermission –
Stop Eating Sugar

Order today to get
4 entirely new chapters
(not found in the book)

or order on Bookshop.org

A treasure trove full of bite-sized actionable wisdom.

Rolf Dobelli

Author, The Art of Thinking Clearly

The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself and in your
relationships. Vitaliy’s book is a big step forward in that direction. A must read!

Gautam Baid

Founder, Stellar Wealth Partners; Founding Creator, Chapter; and Author, The Joys of Compounding

Katsenelson is a learning machine. You will be inspired. Congratulations Vitaliy on your latest (and best) book.

Guy Spier

Author, The Education of a Value Investor

Vitaliy Katsenelson’s book is a delight to read and contains a great deal of sound advice, including some nice tips on applying Stoicism in daily life.

Donald Robertson

Author, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

I thought it would take me a week to read the book, but when I started I could not stop and finished it in a day! After reading, I feel like I have spent one day of my life together with Vitaliy conversing with him through his warm words. His writing style is entertaining and at the same time it engages with the mind of the reader, making you think deeply about your own life. In every chapter, in every sentence and word, you can feel Vitaliy really put his SOUL into it.

Héctor García
Bestselling Author, IKIGAI and A Geek in Japan

Contact Vitaliy