The best books for making big life decisions that involve money and love

Why am I passionate about this?

My obsession with decision-making books began in elementary school, when I read tons of Choose Your Own Adventure books. When I realized they wouldn’t prepare me for life (turns out, dragons are rare), I began reading others. I got an MBA at Stanford, where I took a class taught by labor economist Myra Strober that changed my life by helping me navigate the money and love decisions I encountered while climbing the corporate ladder at Gap Inc. and raising two young kids with my husband. My former professor and I wrote Money and Love to empower more people to live more intentional lives and feel more confident about their big life decisions.

I wrote...

Money and Love: An Intelligent Roadmap for Life's Biggest Decisions

By Abby Davisson, Myra Strober,

Book cover of Money and Love: An Intelligent Roadmap for Life's Biggest Decisions

What is my book about?

Money and Love: An Intelligent Roadmap for Life’s Biggest Decisions is a guide for navigating life’s most consequential and daunting decisions using research-based insights road-tested in a popular Stanford University course. Years later, students who took the course say it prepared them for life better than any other they took in school. 

Should I marry this person? When is the “right time” to have another child? Should my aging parents move in with us? All these life-altering questions at the juncture of money and love can be overwhelming. In this time of rapid and profound change, Money and Love offers reassuring guidance for making the complex choices that determine the course of our lives.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Thinking, Fast and Slow

Abby Davisson Why did I love this book?

This landmark book (and mega bestseller) provides an important foundation for the other books that follow. It explains the two systems that govern our thinking: System 1 (quick, emotional, intuitive) and System 2 (slower, more logical, more methodical). This book will help you understand when and how to trust your gut and conversely, when and how to over-ride your quick-decision impulse and engage in slow thinking. It’s written in an engaging and thoughtful way – even though the author won the Nobel Prize in Economics, reading it doesn’t feel like doing homework.

By Daniel Kahneman,

Why should I read it?

41 authors picked Thinking, Fast and Slow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The phenomenal international bestseller - 2 million copies sold - that will change the way you make decisions

'A lifetime's worth of wisdom' Steven D. Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics
'There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Thinking, Fast and Slow' Financial Times

Why is there more chance we'll believe something if it's in a bold type face? Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? Why do we assume a good-looking person will be more competent? The answer lies in the two ways we make choices: fast,…

Book cover of The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity

Abby Davisson Why did I love this book?

I love books about trends that make predictions, and Gratton and Scott’s book lays out very compelling evidence about how the increase in life expectancy will – and should – change the way we live. First, they lay out why the three stage model of life (education, work, retirement) doesn’t work as we live longer. Then, they draw on their complementary backgrounds in psychology and economics to tell us what we should do instead. From how to handle our money, to how to think about our careers and relationships, this book offers a recipe for making our extra years fulfilling and meaningful.

By Lynda Gratton, Andrew J. Scott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The 100-Year Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What will your 100-year life look like? Does the thought of working for 60 or 70 years fill you with dread? Or can you see the potential for a more stimulating future as a result of having so much extra time? Many of us have been raised on the traditional notion of a three-stage approach to our working lives: education, followed by work and then retirement. But this well-established pathway is already beginning to collapse - life expectancy is rising, final-salary pensions are vanishing, and increasing numbers of people are juggling multiple careers. Whether you are 18, 45 or 60,…

Book cover of Couples That Work: How To Thrive in Love and Work

Abby Davisson Why did I love this book?

Dual-career couples are on the rise – chances are, if you plan on having a long-term relationship or even getting married at some point, you will have to navigate this two-person high-wire act. Jennifer Petriglieri offers a useful take on the three big questions all couples need to grapple with over time for their careers and relationship to flourish jointly: How can we make this work? (handling the logistics of combining two busy lives and often raising young kids); What do we really want? (navigating the inevitable questions that arise in mid-life); and Who are we know? (once our identities and bodies are much changed from the ones that first attracted our partners). I loved the data, stories, and exercises in this book, and have applied them to my own life. 

By Jennifer Petriglieri,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Couples That Work as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Every couple wants a happy relationship and a meaningful career but how do we balance both?

In Couples that Work, Professor Jennifer Petriglieri shifts away from the language of sacrifice and trade-offs and focuses on how couples can successfully tackle the challenges they will face throughout their lives--together. The book explores key questions like:

- Can you and your partner have equally important careers or must you prioritise one over the other?
- How can you juggle children or family commitments without sacrificing your work?
- Does every decision require compromise or can you find solutions that benefit you both?…

Book cover of Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live)

Abby Davisson Why did I love this book?

In addition to navigating high-level questions with our partners, we also must complete zillions of daily tasks that make up life, especially if you’re raising small humans together. Enter Fair Play, which is a system to help make the division of household tasks more equitable. Rodsky has identified rules – and 100 tasks – that need to be divided between two members in order for domestic chores to get done without resentment and stress. Even though my husband and I have worked hard at establishing a division of labor that felt ok to us, I still learned a lot through this book, and we found Rodsky’s method to be helpful for us as we’ve navigated different seasons in life. And now there are even a set of cards you can get on the book’s website and use as you deal and “redeal” tasks over time.

By Eve Rodsky,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fair Play as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


"A hands-on, real talk guide for navigating the hot-button issues that so many families struggle with."--Reese Witherspoon

Tired, stressed, and in need of more help from your partner? Imagine running your household (and life!) in a new way...

It started with the Sh*t I Do List. Tired of being the "shefault" parent responsible for all aspects of her busy household, Eve Rodsky counted up all the unpaid, invisible work she was doing for her family -- and then sent that list to her husband, asking for things to change. His response was... underwhelming. Rodsky realized…

Book cover of Workparent: The Complete Guide to Succeeding on the Job, Staying True to Yourself, and Raising Happy Kids

Abby Davisson Why did I love this book?

This is the handbook to working parenthood that I wish someone had handed me when I accepted a new job at 38 weeks pregnant with my first child. Dowling offers plenty of wisdom in this book – from how to manage the transitions that come with working parenthood (going on and returning from parental leave, changing jobs, welcoming a second child) to how to set up your daily routine for success. But what I really appreciate is how tactical this book is. Working parenthood – especially the early years – is a full-contact sport. You want someone to cut to the chase and just give you the user manual. This is it.

By Daisy Dowling,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Workparent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An all-in-one resource for every working mother and father.

Sure, there are plenty of parenting books out there. But as working moms and dads, we've never had a trusted, go-to guide all our own-one that coaches us on how to do well at work, be the loving and engaged parents we want to be, and remain true to ourselves in the process.

Enter Workparent. Whether you're planning a family, pushing for promotion during your kids' teenage years, or at any phase in between, Workparent provides all the advice and assurance you'll need to combine children and career in your own,…

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Book cover of This Animal Body

Meredith Walters

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Neuroscience PhD student Frankie Conner has finally gotten her life together—she’s determined to discover the cause of her depression and find a cure for herself and everyone like her. But the first day of her program, she meets a group of talking animals who have an urgent message they refuse to share. And while the animals may not have Frankie’s exalted human brain, they know things she doesn’t, like what happened before she was adopted.

To prove she’s sane, Frankie investigates her forgotten past and conducts clandestine experiments. But just when she uncovers the truth, she has to make an impossible choice: betray the animals she’s fallen in love with—or give up her last chance at success and everything she thought she knew.

By Meredith Walters,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Animal Body as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Frankie Conner, first-year graduate student at UC Berkeley, is finally getting her life together. After multiple failures and several false starts, she's found her calling: become a neuroscientist, discover the cause of her depression and anxiety, and hopefully find a cure for herself and everyone like her.

But her first day of the program, Frankie meets a mysterious group of talking animals who claim to have an urgent message for her. The problem is, they're not willing to share it. Not yet. Not until she's ready.

While Frankie's new friends may not have her highly evolved, state-of-the-art, exalted human brain,…

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