The best retirement books

1 authors have picked their favorite books about retirement and why they recommend each book.

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What Retirees Want

By Ken Dychtwald,

Book cover of What Retirees Want: A Holistic View of Life's Third Age

I like authors who back up statements with research. Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, has been studying the Boomer generation for more than three decades, and uses his research to not only demonstrate how this generation has transformed retirement, but also provides important insights for those who work with, sell to, or are Boomers themselves. Virtually every page has a nugget of useful and applicable information.


Who am I?

I’ve lived in four states because of corporate transfers. My background is college teaching/administration, and for each relocation, I found a new job, house, and social groups. This is what retirement is about, the opportunity to learn, re-invent, re-define yourself, and pursue new opportunities and passions. My biology/psychology/relocation background prepared me to address the non-financial aspects of retirement, and I know CPAs/CFPs willing to share their financial expertise. I’ve authored five retirement books, I’m the “Healthy Living” columnist for a magazine, and I’ve been speaking/writing about retirement for the past 22 years. I have a B.S., an M.Ed., and I’m ABD for my doctorate. I can also speak backwards fluently!


I wrote...

The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life, 3rd edition

By Jan Cullinane,

Book cover of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life, 3rd edition

What is my book about?

“Big-box” retailers like Target, Walmart, Costco, and Amazon thrive because so many people want one-stop shopping. The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life, 3rd edition, provides the same type of service to you, the reader. This book is for those who want to create more than just a financial plan – it’s for those looking to create a life plan.

The chapter titles give a good indication of the content: "What Makes Retirement Successful?"; "168 Hours a Week"; "Working in Retirement: It’s not an Oxymoron"; "What and Where is Home?"; "Locations, Locations, Locations"; "Forever Young"; "Dollars and Sense"; "The Taxman Cometh"; "Money Saving Tricks and Tips"; "The Final Chapter". 

Last Laughs

By Mort Gerberg,

Book cover of Last Laughs: Cartoons About Aging, Retirement ... and the Great Beyond

There was a death in my family years back, and somehow after a long and wrenching day at the hospital, we were sitting around my dining room table at a late-night long-delayed dinner – and we were laughing. My brother came into the kitchen, worried about the children present: what were they learning? I answered: They’re learning how to bury us. Death, even death – and I am heavily grieving a loss right now – can be a moment for laughter, the sheer absurdity of life, the grief and sorrow expressed in crying and in laughing. There are other good books that do this, that take a more intellectual approach – but honestly, I admire the chutzpah of Greenberg editing a book of cartoons on death. 

The range is from the silly, the grim reaper at the door introducing the fat lady, ‘here to sing for you,' to ones that…


Who am I?

I’ve been writing about birth for decades – how it became a medical process, managed by a surgical specialty in a factory-like setting. I’ve worked with contemporary midwives who are trying to reclaim birth, to move it back home, back to physiological and loving care. And over and over again, I see the similarities to the other gate of life – how death and dying also left home and went into the hospital, where people die, as they birth, pretty much alone – with perhaps a ‘visitor’ allowed. Covid made it worse – but in birth and death, it allowed the hospitals to return to what medicine considered essential: medical procedures, not human connections. 


I wrote...

A Bun in the Oven: How the Food and Birth Movements Resist Industrialization

By Barbara Katz Rothman,

Book cover of A Bun in the Oven: How the Food and Birth Movements Resist Industrialization

What is my book about?

It’s not all I write about, but from my dissertation onward I have been studying birth – as a medicalized ‘procedure’ done on not by the person giving birth, and as a social movement in response to that medicalization. And then, almost by accident, I found myself in the world of Food Studies. 

At first, it was funny how many things were similar between the two movements, from the ‘turn to the French’ in the 1950s (Lamaze and Bon Appetit) to the turn to the hippies in the 70s. But I listened to artisanal food makers and heard things that midwives say, like using technology, not being used by it, and I started taking it more seriously. These are similar social movements with similar values—health, community, human relationships – fighting similar battles against large-scale industries.  So I wrote a book about it.  

What the Happiest Retirees Know

By Wes Moss,

Book cover of What the Happiest Retirees Know: 10 Habits for a Healthy, Secure, and Joyful Life

This gem of a book translates the results of Wes Moss’s survey of more than 2,000 happy retirees into ten actionable habits that help you achieve your best “second act.” I love the author’s easy, breezy writing style. Find out how many “core pursuits” are needed to make you a happier retiree!


Who am I?

I’ve lived in four states because of corporate transfers. My background is college teaching/administration, and for each relocation, I found a new job, house, and social groups. This is what retirement is about, the opportunity to learn, re-invent, re-define yourself, and pursue new opportunities and passions. My biology/psychology/relocation background prepared me to address the non-financial aspects of retirement, and I know CPAs/CFPs willing to share their financial expertise. I’ve authored five retirement books, I’m the “Healthy Living” columnist for a magazine, and I’ve been speaking/writing about retirement for the past 22 years. I have a B.S., an M.Ed., and I’m ABD for my doctorate. I can also speak backwards fluently!


I wrote...

The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life, 3rd edition

By Jan Cullinane,

Book cover of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life, 3rd edition

What is my book about?

“Big-box” retailers like Target, Walmart, Costco, and Amazon thrive because so many people want one-stop shopping. The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life, 3rd edition, provides the same type of service to you, the reader. This book is for those who want to create more than just a financial plan – it’s for those looking to create a life plan.

The chapter titles give a good indication of the content: "What Makes Retirement Successful?"; "168 Hours a Week"; "Working in Retirement: It’s not an Oxymoron"; "What and Where is Home?"; "Locations, Locations, Locations"; "Forever Young"; "Dollars and Sense"; "The Taxman Cometh"; "Money Saving Tricks and Tips"; "The Final Chapter". 

The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+

By Suze Orman,

Book cover of The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+: Winning Strategies to Make Your Money Last a Lifetime

Money is the biggest concern for most people thinking about retirement. Suze Orman is the queen of straight-talk about how best to manage your finances during this chapter of your life. She explains practical steps you need to take to make sure you have enough money to last your lifetime. I love that she is ruthless about making readers consider the long-term effects of their purchases and financial decisions.


Who am I?

As a life coach and author of two dozen self-help books, I’ve spent the past twenty years helping people prepare for, plan, and go through major life changes, such as the transition to retirement. I’ve interviewed dozens of retirees about the challenges and opportunities they’ve experienced during their retirement. I’ve designed this guide so you can be strategic in choosing your path, overcome challenges, and make adjustments to make the most of this chapter of your life.


I wrote...

Making the Most of Your Retirement: Ways to Foster Health, Happiness & Fulfillment at Any Age

By Liisa Kyle,

Book cover of Making the Most of Your Retirement: Ways to Foster Health, Happiness & Fulfillment at Any Age

What is my book about?

Are you contemplating retirement? Or maybe you have already retired but are dissatisfied and are looking to improve your experience. Whatever your circumstances, you can make the most of your retirement. You can decide what is important to you and how you would like to live this chapter of your life. This self-help guide is packed with activities, examples, and ideas to help you: decide how you really want to spend your retirement; devise a plan to make the most of this period of your life; prepare for and manage the transition to retirement; take stock periodically; make adjustments and address challenges as they arise; boost your health, improve your social life, and consider your legacy.

How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free

By Ernie J. Zelinski,

Book cover of How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won't Get from Your Financial Advisor

We live in expensive times, our lives could last longer than expected after our earning years have ended:  hands up anyone who has had the 3 am heebie-jeebies about a future in which one is very old and impoverished. We’ll never be able to retire . . . the huge charm of this book, for me, is the emphasis is less on storing away pennies than on embracing the future, and while I’ll grant he says that perhaps a little too often, sometimes you do have to catch people’s attention. There are no miraculous solutions, but there’s good advice and a very wholesome shift in attitude to take on board.  


Who am I?

I’ve been a columnist in a national magazine, book reviewer on a daily newspaper, journalist on a small rural paper, commercial blogger for hire, copy-editor, and critiquer, usually alongside more conventional roles in the not entirely thrilling world of corporate finance. In my fifties, I took a belated gap year courtesy of a good redundancy package and started writing full-time under a couple of different names, mainly EJ Lamprey but here as Clarissa. The gap year never really ended . . . At the heart of all my books is the exuberant celebration of finding in autumn the best season of our lives.


I wrote...

The Christmas Caper

By E.J. Lamprey,

Book cover of The Christmas Caper

What is my book about?

Being pretty much retired, well-off, active, lively, sociable, a frequent traveler, and based at an age-friendly community for similar free spirits in lovely Scotland, had been great for Edge and her friends: and then along came Covid19. After months of Katryn's draconian restrictions, with Christmas 2020 closing in, it wasn't surprising that boredom was driving the neighbors nuts. Are they imagining things, though, or was there really something off-kilter at Grasshopper Lawns?

Chinese Senior Migrants and the Globalization of Retirement

By Nicole Dejong Newendorp,

Book cover of Chinese Senior Migrants and the Globalization of Retirement

Immigrants often try to reunite their families once they settle in their new home countries. This book looks at the experiences of elder Cantonese parents who have followed their children from China to the US. Newendorp’s sensitive ethnography reveals the joys, strains, and tensions as reunited families renegotiate the rules around family support, filial duty, and the rearing of Chinese-American grandkids. 


Who am I?

My mom was an anthropologist, and when I was two, she took me to Sri Lanka, the island off the tip of India. After years of insisting that I wanted nothing to do with any social science, let alone anthropology, I ended up in graduate school studying… anthropology. Long story. Having taken up the family mantel, I returned to the village where I lived as a child and asked what had changed in the intervening years. Since then, my Sri Lankan interlocutors have suggested book topics that include labor migration, the use and abuse of alcohol, the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and the challenges of aging. 


I wrote...

Linked Lives: Elder Care, Migration, and Kinship in Sri Lanka

By Michele Ruth Gamburd,

Book cover of Linked Lives: Elder Care, Migration, and Kinship in Sri Lanka

What is my book about?

When loved ones spend years away from home, what happens to the family members left behind? In this book, I draw readers into intimate family life in a coastal village in Sri Lanka. I began researching this village 30 years ago, studying what happened when mothers left the country to work as housemaids in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. Over the years, the village has changed, my friends have aged, and their children have migrated. I try to capture their triumphs and sorrows and the challenges that their trans-local families face in caring for children and elders.  

The Great 401(k) Hoax

By William Wolman, Anne Colamosca,

Book cover of The Great 401(k) Hoax: Why Your Family's Financial Security Is at Risk, and What You Can Do about It

Wolman and Colmosca, former BusinessWeek writers, were among the early writers to expose just how bad 401(k)s were for workers. They showed how Wall Street interests profited from the plans at the expense of retirement security. They knew a lot about stock market investing and doubted that, even in the best of situations, the stock market would be able to produce enough value to adequately support retirees. They came to the conclusion that the 401(k) system could not be reformed and should be abolished. I liked the book because it was coming from people within the system (BusinessWeek) who realized that it was not working. 


Who am I?

I became fascinated with retirement plans and policy when I realized that my 401(k)-like retirement plan with a high rate of savings and investment returns would still come up way short in terms of the retirement income needed for me and my family. That led me to initiate a winning campaign to allow those of us in that plan to switch to our employer’s pension plan. In leading that struggle, I had to learn everything possible, beyond what I already knew, about retirement plans. I have a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin and have studied retirement plans in Latin America and Europe as well as the United States.


I wrote...

The Labor Guide to Retirement Plans: For Union Organizers and Employees

By James W. Russell,

Book cover of The Labor Guide to Retirement Plans: For Union Organizers and Employees

What is my book about?

What do workers need to know as they assess the security of their retirement plans? What should union activists keep in mind as they push for the national and workplace reforms needed to produce greater retirement security? This nuts-and-bolts book provides a much-needed demystification of the retirement system and enables workers to take charge of their own personal futures.

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