A while back, I did an interview and one of the questions was – what 3 books do you recommend. This question came up a few times now so I thought I’d write up a good answer here so I can refer to it at anytime. BTW, this is a good tip for new bloggers. If you have to do something a few times, then just write up a good response which you can use over and over again. I really should be better at this by now and have a canned response ready for most questions.
Also, I recently read two really great books in quick succession. These two made it to the top of my list (#2 and #3) and I wish I read them a long time ago. They would have helped tremendously when I was in my 20s. Anyway, here are my recommendations.
Disclosure: We may receive a referral fee if you purchase a book through the links in this post.
1. Your Money or Your Life
Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez is a classic guide to financial independence. It was originally published in 1992 and updated in 2008.
The main thing I got out of this book is how to look at money differently. Most of us work for money and that means trading your limited time for money. When you buy something, think about how much time it took to earn that amount. An unnecessary pair of shoes might take 5 hours of work. An expensive car might take a whole year of work. It’s easier for me to avoid spending money when I look at it this way. Previously, I didn’t really make that connection. Money is just money, not time.
This book is not perfect because some numbers are outdated and they recommended investing only in bonds. This was okay when the interest rate was high, but I think it’s better to invest in a good mix of stock and bonds now.
YMOYL is a great book to get you started on your Financial Independence journey.
2. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
This book is written by Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert. I just read this book and it made a huge impression on me.
I’m sure you know this concept – it’s good to fail because you learn from your mistakes. I agree, but I never liked failing. Failures are discouraging and it’s tough to learn in that situation. This book gave some great examples of how to fail forward. You can fail often, but learn a lot in the process and still become successful in life.
I think this book is a must read for young entrepreneurs, independent thinkers, and people who dislike the traditional career track. There are a ton of great concepts here that can change your life. I don’t agree with every theory he has, but the good points outweigh a few unusual ones that probably wouldn’t work for me.
I was so impressed with this book that I purchased one after I finished the copy from the library. Now, that’s an endorsement from a cheap guy like me! You have to support the author if a book is worth the price. Lastly, the book was engrossing and easy to read. It was one of the most enjoyable non-fiction books I’ve read in a long time.
3. Common Sense on Mutual Funds
I really wish I had read Jack Bogle’s Common Sense on Mutual Funds when I was in my 20s. Our net worth would be bigger if we just followed his simple investment advice instead of fumbling around. If you invest in the stock market or have any kind of retirement account, you really should read this book.
This book is a little dry, but the first half was very informative. I skipped through most of the 2nd half so don’t let the 600 page count intimidate you.
So those are my top 3 recommendations. I really wish I read these books when I was young. They would have helped me in various facets of life. I’m still glad I read them, though. It’s never too late to learn. I still have many years in front of me to put these ideas to good use.
Other great books
Here are some other great books that I like.
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy
This book showed me that anyone can become a millionaire. Actually, we’re one of those millionaires next door now! I consider that a great accomplishment.
The Joy of Not Working and How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free by Ernie J. Zelinski.
Ernie Zelinski is my hero. If you’re thinking about early retirement, you need to read his books.
How to Engineer Your Layoff by Financial Samurai: Negotiate A Severance and Be Free!
Unfortunately, Financial Samurai’s book came out after I quit my job. I could have easily gotten a severance if I stayed just one more year. Oh well, I can’t complain too much because everything is going great. If you’re thinking about quitting, then you need to read this book and negotiate a severance instead.
Millionaire Teacher: The Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School by Andrew Hallam
Andrew Hallam retired early on a teacher’s salary. It’s not impossible. He has an awesome story and you should read his book. Currently, he is traveling around the world with his wife and public speaking to teachers. He doesn’t charge for these speeches and I think that’s a great way to give back.
Books on my reading list
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham – I tried to read this book about 10 years ago and couldn’t get through it. Maybe I’m patient enough to do it now.
What are some of the books that you wish you read in your 20s? I’m in my 40s now, but I still love to read and learn. Let me know what I should put on my reading list.