Well, Book Week has come to a close at Get Rich Slowly, and while it was an interesting experiment, it’s not likely to happen again any time soon.

For one thing, I learned that doing book reviews takes more work than doing regular posts. To do a review, you have to read the book (sometimes twice), decide how it’s relevant to readers, and then write a normal article. And while an occasional book review is a nice change of pace, a week filled with them is boring, both for me and for the readers. So, no more Book Weeks at GRS.

Before we ease back into normal personal-finance topics, though, I thought it would be fun to discuss our favorite personal-finance books and magazines. As a starting point, here’s a recent comment from Deb:

I’d love a running list of your top 10 fave finance books. You could keep it fluid; there’s no reason it can’t change. I’m always on the hunt for helpful financial books! I’m most confused about self-directed investing vs. having a financial advisor. I tried to wrap my mind around [William] Bernstein’s books and just couldn’t do it, which makes me concerned about trying to do investing on my own!

Deb’s comment is interesting for a couple of reasons.

  • First, I like the idea of a “running list” of favorite finance books. Because she’s right: The list changes with time. As I read more, and as my own finance skills develop, different books will appeal to me.
  • Second, she points out that what might be a good book for one person may not be good for another. I find William Bernstein’s books perfect for my personal knowledge and philosophy. I’m sure my wife would find them tedious. We each have different tastes and needs.

So, to end Book Week, I’ve drafted a list of my current top-ten finance books. These are the books I would want in a personal finance library if I started one today. Your list would be different (and I invite you to share it in the comments).

Here’s the list (in alphabetical order by title):

  • All Your Worth. You know, I hated this book at first. And I’m still not a fan of how Elizabeth Warren allows personal responsibility off the hook. But I can’t deny that this book had a huge impact on helping me find a balanced financial life. The Balanced Money Formula has been a Big Deal for me, and that’s an idea that originated here. [My review.]
  • The Complete Tightwad Gazette. This book is a monster — almost 1000 pages of ideas on how to live well for less. Amy Dacyczyn was the Queen of Cheap twenty years ago, and her legacy remains strong. If you want to know how to get the best deal on groceries, how to shop for clothes, and how to reuse anything, then pick up this book. It’s a treasure trove of ideas. [I have never reviewed this book, though I've mentioned it many times.]
  • Debt is Slavery. Not many people have heard of this slim self-published book. That’s too bad. Michael Mihalik does a fantastic job of explaining a handful of basic financial concepts, and his advice is sound. This is the perfect book for a young adult who doesn’t know where to start. I wish I’d had access to this book when I was 20. [My review.]
  • The Four Pillars of Investing. If I ever finish Jeremy Siegel’s Stocks for the Long Run, it may replace this book on my list. For now, though, The Four Pillars of Investing is my go-to book for reminding myself why I’ve adopted index funds as my main investment strategy. This book covers investment theory, history, and psychology, as well as the business of investing. [My review.]
  • The Incredible Secret Money Machine. I know, I know: You’ve never heard of it. It may be long out of print, but The Incredible Secret Money Machine is a terrific book about building “money machines”, businesses or products that keep producing nickels year after year. I wish the author had the gumption to update this (it’s over 30 years old!) and reprint it for a new generation. [My review.]
  • Work Less, Live More. Bob Clyatt’s book on early- and semi-retirement is one of my favorites. It’s sensible, comprehensive, and inspirational. He includes a big section on smart investing, and offers ideas for how to pursue your passions once you’ve stopped working full-time. [I've never reviewed this book, though I should.]
  • You Can Negotiate Anything. It was a toss-up whether to include this or Negotiating Your Salary [my review]. The latter is outstanding, and I recommend it highly to anyone who is applying for a job or asking for a raise. In the end, though, I chose Herb Cohen’s book because it covers a wider range of topics. And it’s entertaining! [My review.]
  • Your Money and Your Brain. I haven’t reviewed this at Get Rich Slowly yet, but it’s a great book. Jason Zweig covers the latest research into how money affects our behavior. There are a lot of interesting books out there about the psychology of personal finance, but this is the most comprehensive.
  • Your Money or Your Life. Of course this is on my list. Your Money or Your Life has influenced thousands of people — including me. The book includes advice about getting out of debt, living frugally, and seeking financial independence. But what most of us remember is that it helped make money less abstract, helped us see how it was directly related to time. [A guest review from the first month of GRS back in 2006.]
  • Your Money: The Missing Manual. Wait — I put my own book on the list? You bet. I wrote Your Money: The Missing Manual precisely to be the sort of book I needed when I was struggling with money. I think it’s a great resource, getting to the heart of a broad range of topics. Plus, I’ve done my best to point to other books and websites readers can use to get more information. If I could only have ten books in my personal-finance library, I’d want this to be one of them. (In fact, I refer to my own book almost daily. No joke. I guess that’s one of the luxuries of writing a book — you can just write the book you want!)

Are there other great books about money out there? Of course. A list of ten books can’t begin to be comprehensive. Over the past five years, I’ve read nearly 200 money manuals, and many of them contained great information. But today — on 10 September 2010 — these are the ten essential books I’d want in my personal finance library — if I could have only ten.

What are your essential personal-finance books? Which have you read and loved? Which have you read and hated? Are there books you’d recommend to people in specific circumstances?

A word about magazines: I read a lot of personal-finance books, but I also read a lot of personal-finance magazines. Lately, though, I’m short on time. As a result, I’m reading fewer magazines than before. In fact, I let my subscription to Smart Money lapse — it’s not as good as Money or Kiplinger’s, and I hate their slimy renewal policy. Which three magazines do I never miss? Consumer Reports, Consumer Reports Money Adviser, and my favorite — Countryside. If you’re interested in homesteading, DIY, and country living, give Countryside a try. It’s awesome (kind of like a multi-author blog in magazine form). I just wish it were published more than six times a year.

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, GE Capital Bank, and more.