50 prosperity classics in a nutshell

50 Prosperity ClassicsEarlier today I shared my review of 50 Prosperity Classics by Tom Butler-Bowdon. The author selected fifty important prosperity books and summarized them in just a few pages. For each book, he also provided a one-sentence capsule summary.

I think these one-sentence summaries are clever, so I contacted Butler-Bowdon for permission to reprint them, which he kindly granted. I've reproduced them below, grouping them into the book's four broad categories. For additional information, I've linked to the Amazon page for each (though I encourage you to borrow the volumes that interest you from the public library).

Please note that I am not endorsing these books. I'm merely sharing the summaries with you for edification and entertainment.

Attracting Wealth

These are books about mastering the inner game of wealth and abundance. Let me be blunt: Most of these are worthless to me. I know they're valuable to some people, and Butler-Bowdon does a fine job of sharing the important bits, but I think they're mostly hokum. They're filled with passages like this:

Once the work is done on the mental plane, you can be assured your pictured good will manifest on the outer plane just as soon as the time, people, and events have arranged themselves accordingly.

I recognize that some people draw value from this sort of thing. I am not one of them. It's because of the presence of so many books like this in 50 Prosperity Classics that I don't value it as highly as 50 Success Classics.

  • The Path To Prosperity by James Allen (1905) — You will only become truly prosperous when you have disciplined your mind and subjugated your negative emotions. Paradoxically, wealth (and happiness) comes most easily to those who forget the self in the service to others.
  • Your Invisible Power by Genevieve Behrend (1921) — What we visualize tends to come into being. Use this invisible, but logical, power to turn any desire into reality.
  • The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (2006) — You are a powerful magnet, attracting into your life the equivalent of whatever you are strongly feeling or thinking about, including thoughts of lack or prosperity. [my review]
  • Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker (2005) — To obtain desired outer results, you must first master the inner game of wealth. [my review]
  • Prosperity by Charles Fillmore (1936) — All wealth begins and ends with the spiritual Source, therefore gratitude for what we have is the master key to prosperity.
  • Ask And It Is Given: Learning To Manifest Your Desires by Esther and Jerry Hicks (2004) — As long as you are in a state of mind and being that is ready to receive, you can have whatever you want.
  • The Master Key to Riches by Napoleon Hill (1965) — The basic law of prosperity is that to receive, you must first provide something of great value.
  • Open Your Mind To Prosperity by Catherine Ponder (1971) — In transforming your beliefs about spirituality and wealth, you can welcome great well being and prosperity into your life.
  • The Abundance Book by John Randolph Price (1987) — Life is in part a test to see if we can learn the laws of abundance, specifically the law of ‘all sufficiency'.
  • Creating Money: Keys to Abundance by Sanaya Roman & Duane Packer (1988) — If you know the universe to be an abundant place, you won't fear not having the resources to pursue your purpose or mission in life.
  • Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow by Marsha Sinetar (1987) — Though we can't control when, the decision to do what we love sooner or later pays off.
  • The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber (1905) — The spirit of capitalism is not greed and consumption, but the creation of order and the best use of resources. For those with a ‘calling', there is no problem in reconciling the spiritual and economic aspects of life.

Creating Wealth

The books in this section contain the secrets of wealth creators. These are people who think big, take risks, and are willing to fail publicly. I like the top principle Butler-Bowdon extracted from these books:

The foundation of a prosperous life (combining material wealth, health, and mental wellbeing) is personal character, formed from self-control and cultivation of virtue. A person of integrity, trust, and good character is “bankable”; their riches evolve out of who they are as much as what they do.

Many of these titles are biographies. Others focus on wealth at an economic level instead of a personal level. Some are true classics.

  • Multiple Streams of Income by Robert G. Allen (2005) — The prosperous do not depend on only once source of income, but grow orchards of ‘money trees'.
  • The Art of Money-Getting by P.T. Barnum (1880) — There are no shortcuts to wealth, aside from right vocation, good character and perseverance — and don't forget to advertise.
  • Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson (2005) — Don't be afraid to be different. On entering any new field or an industry, aim to really shake it up and provide new value.
  • How To Get Rich by Felix Dennis (2006) — Be willing to fail in public, and you have jumped the hurdle holding most people back from getting rich.
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter Drucker (1985) — The purpose of entrepreneurship is to deliver new satisfaction and value, and is built on ‘unexpected successes' that are quickly capitalized upon.
  • Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman (1962) — The free market, not government, ensures protection of individual rights and standards of quality, and delivers extraordinary prosperity for those who seek it.
  • The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. Friedman (2005) — Technological advance is creating a ‘level playing field' in which previously marginalized people and countries can play a competitive role in the world economy.
  • Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire by James Wallace & Jim Erickson (1992) — In your field of work, see what can be achieved by ‘setting the standard'. With a big, clear vision in place, you can make the most of any opportunity that comes your way.
  • The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael E Gerber (2001) — The key to real prosperity in business is to work on your enterprise, not in it.
  • The One Minute Millionaire by Mark Victor Hansen & Robert G. Allen (2002) — All who become wealthy in the modern world know the power of leverage: using other people's resources and technology to multiply the effect of what they do.
  • Be My Guest by Conrad Hilton (1957) — Having a dream and thinking big are the basic elements of all great enterprises and fortunes.
  • The Lazy Man's Way To Riches by Joe Karbo (1973) — Mental conditioning is the foundation of wealth; once your goals are programmed in, success comes easily.
  • The Art of the Start by Guy Kawasaki (2004) — Before anything else, the fundamental purpose in starting any new enterprise is to create meaning. Start off catering to a small market, and if what you are doing is worthwhile, other opportunities will emerge. [Guy Kawasaki's blog]
  • God Wants You To Be Rich by Paul Zane Pilzer (1995) — God designed the universe as a super-abundant place, with technology as the engine that delivers the greatest benefits to the greatest number.
  • Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal by Ayn Rand (1966) — In capitalism, wealth is created by free, individual minds with no coercion involved. This makes it a moral system of political economy.
  • Business As Unusual: My Entrepreneurial Journey by Anita Roddick (2005) — When starting a business, do the opposite of the established industry. Make your business a powerful force for social change.
  • Pour Your Heart Into It: How Starbucks Built a Company One Cup at a Time by Howard Schultz (1997) — Nothing great is ever achieved without people making frightening leaps of faith. Huge enterprises can be built by giving people a small moment of joy in their day.
  • The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776) — The wealth of a nation is that of its people, not its government. Wealth is achieved through the division of their labor and the ever-greater specialization of their skills. The foundation of all future prosperity is current savings.
  • The Art of the Deal by Donald Trump (1987) — To succeed in business, balance boldness and promotion with patience, caution and flexibility.

Managing Wealth

These titles offer strategies for personal finance and investing. They're the sorts of books I typically review here at Get Rich Slowly. They offer advice like:

  • Live within your means.
  • Budget and track your spending.
  • Invest in low-cost index funds.
  • Pay yourself first.

If I had written 50 Prosperity Classics, I would have included more books about managing wealth and far fewer about “attracting” it.

  • The Automatic Millionaire by David Bach (2004) — There is no easier or surer way of attaining wealth than through the habit of ‘paying yourself first' through automatic deductions. [my review]
  • The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John C. Bogle (2007) — If you invest in stocks at all, put your money in a fund that automatically owns a little bit of every company listed in a stock market. Over time, it is a sure and almost worry-free way to accumulate wealth.
  • The Essays of Warren Buffett edited by Lawrence Cunningham (2003) — Don't invest in stocks — invest in the businesses behind them. [Read Buffett's letters to shareholders for free online.]
  • Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin (1992) — By living on less, you can actually enjoy life more. [GRS review from Frykitty]
  • The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (1949) — Don't be someone who ‘knows the price of everything and the value of nothing'. In stock investing, consider yourself part owner of a company, not a trader.
  • Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki (1998) — The mindset and income patterns of the rich are totally different to those of the poor and middle class. [My review of Kiyosaki's latest book]
  • One Up On Wall Street by Peter Lynch (1989) — Alert investors who focus on the fundamentals and do not get swayed by market sentiments can outperform the professionals.
  • Investing In Real Estate by Andrew McLean & Gary W. Eldred (2006) — Buying rental properties is one of the lowest risk and best performing forms of investment.
  • How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt & Live Prosperously by Jerrold Mundis (1988) — Your debts may seem insurmountable, but there is a well-worn, reliable path that can rescue you from despair.
  • How I Turned $1,000 into Three Million in Real Estate — In My Spare Time by William Nickerson (1969) — Over a 20-year period, it is difficult not to get rich from real estate if you follow a simple formula.
  • Women and Money by Suze Orman (2007) — To ensure their financial freedom, women need to have new respect for their relationship to money and defy cultural conditioning.
  • Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey (2005) — More than money itself, what most people need is peace of mind. If you don't take control of your finances, they will control you (no matter how much you earn). [My review of Ramsey's Total Money Makeover]
  • The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley & William S. Danko (1996) — Most people become millionaires not by inheritance or winning the lottery, but earning a good income from work they enjoy, living well below their means and investing their savings. [My review]

Sharing Wealth

The final set of books in 50 Prosperity Classics are about the flow of wealth and giving something back. I admit that this is a part of personal finance I haven't explored as much as I should. I mentioned recently that I'm finally ready to do volunteer work for the first time in my life. Well, it's only this year that I've begun to consider the importance of sharing wealth, too. I'm interested to read some of these books.

  • The Gospel of Wealth by Andrew Carnegie (1899) — The wealth creator has a moral obligation to enrich the lives of others in whatever way they can.
  • The Foundation: How Private Wealth is Changing the World by Joel Fleishman (2007) — Private wealth in the form of foundations is a valuable ‘third force' in changing the world.
  • Natural Capitalism: The Next Industrial Evolution by Paul Hawken, Amory B. Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins (1999) — Genuine prosperity is not won at the expense of the Earth.
  • The Billionaire Who Wasn't by Conor O'Clery (2007) — Building a fortune can be exciting, but seeing it put to good use while you are alive brings even greater satisfaction.
  • The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist (2003) — Generating, using and spending money in a way that is consistent with our deepest values has a healing effect not only on ourselves but the world.
  • Banker To The Poor by Muhammad Yunus (1998) — If given the opportunity, the poorest will do what it takes to become prosperous. [My review]

A huge thank-you to author Tom Butler-Bowdon for not only allowing me to share these nutshell summaries with you, but also taking the time to compile them and send them to me himself. Far above and beyond the call of duty!

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Shanel Yang
Shanel Yang
12 years ago

Great score for your readers, J.D.! Thanks a bunch!

12 years ago

Your review of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind seems to describe something that is much more about being mentally ready to make the most of opportunities that happen than it is about making the opportunities themselves happen through the Law of Attraction, sympathetic magic, or similar. Is it an exception, or did I misread the review? I see the former as very, very different from the latter. The former is a lot like Maslow’s very reasonable “If all you have is a hammer, all you see are nails” [paraphrased]. The latter is a lot like “If you think about money,… Read more »

Alex Shalman
Alex Shalman
12 years ago

I really appreciate this list. Thanks for taking the time to put it together!

Writer's Coin
Writer's Coin
12 years ago

I still don’t see the point to this when I can go online and get the same sentence for free. As for time, it wouldn’t take me very long – less time than going to Border or the library to pick these books up.

Alex Shalman
Alex Shalman
12 years ago

@Writer’s Coin – right, now that JD make this list it’s much easier to just look on line. Thanks again JD 😉

12 years ago

Daedala, you sort of have my position right. I am 100% in favor of developing a “prepared” mind, of being able to take advantage of opportunities as they occur. I think this is something that people can and should do. I also think that the act of preparation makes one more aware of existing opportunities. However, I do not believe that “wishing will make it so”. I don’t believe any amount of positive thinking is just going to make the opportunities happen. There must be thought and action. So, yes, I’m more with the “if all you have is a… Read more »

12 years ago

Writer’s Coin

There’s much more to this book then just these tiny one-sentence nutshells. Each book has three to five pages of commentary. I highly recommend 50 Success Classics. Borrow it from your public library. If you like that and want more, move on to 50 Prosperity Classics.

12 years ago

What a great list of books! I’ve read about a handful of them, but now have a whole bunch more to add to my list. I’m actually in the middle of the Richard Branson one now, and when I return that to the library, I’ll have to pick up some of these. Thanks.

Emma Anne
Emma Anne
12 years ago

I think the one most valuable concept I got from Your Money or Your Life was the concept of “enough.” They claim that there is an optimal amount of a pleasure or treat or consumer item, such that this optimal amount gives you great enjoyment, but more doesn’t give you more enjoyment – in fact if you really push it you get less enjoyment. I found, for example, that I really enjoy Starbucks lattes – about once a week. If I have them more often, they stop being a special treat. Once a week is the optimal amount for my… Read more »

Mike Bahr
Mike Bahr
12 years ago

I am impressed to see Ayn Rand on that list. She is indeed a polarizing figure, but I have found that her pro-capitalist philosophy proves itself every day (and that her detractors disprove theirs through their conduct concordantly). For a person seeking not only to live frugally but to truly nourish the value of one’s own life, family, and wealth, the writings of Rand are an invaluable asset, if one possesses a sufficient capacity for honest self-reflection to allow themselves to learn from her.

Barnabas Poehler
Barnabas Poehler
12 years ago

I think the “Law of Attraction” as far as most people were exposed to it (through snake oil programs like The Secret) give a bad name to an innocent concept.

The mistake they make is in eliminating a person’s role in the process. Once you put the person back in it, it isn’t magic, it’s just common sense. But it IS effective. Think positively, get your mind saturated on something, your life will be more about that and you won’t get in your own way with doubt, and tada it happens.

gray roquemour
gray roquemour
11 years ago

I read all of the Butler-Bowdon books because they perform a valuable service of helping me find books I want to investigate further. I do think the nutshell concept is fun — but the total format generally gives enough info to invite one to go further in areas that one finds most compelling.

I like to own these as reference books and have given many copies to friends.