In the olden days — before I wrote this blog full time — I was a regular at the wonderful AskMetafilter, a collaborative site for answering reader questions. I don’t have as much time to hang out there anymore, as evidenced by the fact that it took a reader to point me to yesterday’s question about frugality books. Catch wrote:

I’d like to read some good books, preferably autobiographical, about managing a household in hard times. For purposes of ‘professional development’ and generally cheering myself up about being the housewife in a single-income family, I have a craving to read good books about successful living on low resources. Please recommend some! First-hand accounts preferred — depression-era, wartime, or just circumstantial modern hard-times.

I love this question. Recently at our monthly book group, I talked about how some of my favorite books seem built around a similar template. They follow a child as he or she grows to adulthood in a poor family. Four of my favorites are:

I love these books because they remind me of the struggles my own family had to make ends meet when I was a boy. I feel like these are stories I can relate to, as if the authors understand me. Other suggestions from AskMetafilter readers include:

The thread at AskMetafilter has many other great suggestions. Aside from The Egg and I, the other book I’d like to read is We Survived — and Thrived, which is a collection of anecdotes from people who lived through the Great Depression. (Much of this book is available online at Google book search.)

I read a lot of personal finance books. They’re educational. I get a lot out of them. But honestly, I get a lot more from reading how real-life people have dealt with real-life hardship. Their stories make me realize my own challenges are trivial, that I’m fortunate — and that true wealth isn’t about money.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for a trip to the public library. The Egg and I is calling my name.

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