My Top 10 Retirement books + one

Spring has finally sprung in the PNW! With everyone anxious to get outside, it is probably not the best time to write a post on books, but it has been a super busy week and I already had part of it written. Consider taking one of these books outside for a read in the lounge chair instead of inside by the fire.

There are so many excellent books out there about the financial side of retirement.  Planning how you are going to fund your retirement is a given.  A must.  It is the backbone of a secure and enjoyable retirement.  You should not even think about retiring until you have this nailed down.  So, I am assuming that you have that nasty detail taken care of so that you can now focus on the fun stuff.  How are you going to make the most of your retirement years? 

Prior to retiring I read numerous books about retirement.  Not the financial side because we already had that planned out, but books on living a retirement lifestyle that is fun, healthy, and fulfilling.  Besides, reading books about finances makes my eyes glaze over.  Much too boring and dry.  I want the meaty stuff about living well! 

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

There are a lot less books written about the non-financial side of retirement.  However, it is just as vital that you plan ahead for how you want to live out this new phase of life.  I don’t think any of us want to just tread water in retirement, killing time until we are on the other side of the dirt.  But, if you do not plan and then take action steps, the days can slop into each other and before you know it, your life has passed you by.    These books will inspire you and help prevent you from falling into a boring, soul sucking retirement lifestyle. 

I am embarrassed to admit it, but I have read over 60 retirement lifestyle books (seriously, I counted them on my kindle.)  I have also read countless articles and blogs.  Does this make me an expert…or just a nerd?   Either way, I would like to share with you my top ten retirement lifestyle books in hopes that you will find as much wisdom and inspiration from them, as I have.  

Nerd life in retirement – note that worn cover on my Kindle. (Do not note the double chin.)

Top 10 Revealed!

It was very hard to decide on my top 10 and I certainly cannot pick a favorite because each offers a different voice and ideas.  So, here are my top 10 revealed in alphabetical order.  Drum role please…

  • The Artist’s Way for Retirement:  It’s never too late to discover creativity and meaning by Julia Cameron

I have read several of Cameron’s books, but this is one of my favorites because it is written specifically for living a more creative life in retirement.  She addresses why retirees, who have more time than ever in their lives, still struggle with being creative.  If you are trying to figure out how to reinvent yourself in retirement, then this book will provide you with the tools to explore that.  As with most of her books on creativity, Cameron recommends some basic exercises that you can incorporate into your life immediately to inspire you and help you define the life you want to live:  Morning Pages, Memoir Writing, Artist Dates and Solo Walks.  If you are looking for ways to live a life filled with more wonder, awe, and creativity, then this book will inspire you to do just that.   

  • How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free by Ernie J. Zelinski

This is probably the first book I ever read on retirement.  However, do no let this older publication deter you because it is just as relevant today.  Ernie, a professional engineer, started his retirement much earlier than planned due to a poor professional decision that got him fired (do not recommend).  After struggling for a few years, he started to embrace his new freedom.  This entertaining and inspiring book has great insights on how and why to enjoy your newfound leisure.  He proposes that to fully enjoy retirement you must stay active and develop interesting leisure activities, creative pursuits, a social network and physical and mental well-being.  This book makes you look forward to retirement!

  • Keys to a Successful Retirement by Fritz Gilbert

In this book, Gilbert uses the analogy that retirement is “like baking a cake.”  (You will have to read the book to find out why.)  The author identifies some of the inevitable “curves” you will hit as you embark on this major life transition.  While he addresses the financial end of planning for retirement, what I love most about this book is that Fritz fully recognizes it is the life you build after the curves and beyond the finances that secures your true happiness in retirement.  This includes the importance of our relationships, choosing your attitude and embracing your passion. This book is an enjoyable read and offers some great retirement tips along the way so you can put it into practice to make this next chapter of life the best it can be.  Check out Fritz’s excellent retirement blog:   The Retirement Manifesto Blog

  • Life Reimagined by Richard Leider and Alan Webber

While not technically a retirement book, many of the principles can be applied to creating an enjoyable and satisfying retirement.  This quote from the book captures the essence of it very well, “At the heart of Life Reimagined is a manifesto that calls upon each of us to live our lives with choice, curiosity and courage.”  The authors encourage readers to live a life of self-discovery.  Leider also wrote an excellent book with David Shapiro that I would recommend.  (Tricky of me to sneak in another book and not have to include it in the top ten list, isn’t it?).  The book is titled Repacking Your Bags:  Lighten the Load For the Rest of Your Life, and is worth a read as well, particularly for those still trying to balance work with living a good life.  (Lucky us that we are retired and don’t have to do that anymore.) 

  • Living a Satisfying Retirement:  Real life insights from those already living and planning their own satisfying retirement by Bob Lowry

I have been a faithful reader of Lowry’s retirement blog, which he has been writing for over 12 years.  This is Lowry’s second book on retirement.  He is obviously an experienced voice on the topic of retirement.  His first book, Building a Satisfying Retirement addresses how to structure a meaningful retirement life that is enjoyable and satisfying. (I had a hard time identifying which of the two books to add to my top ten list, so this is another way to sneak in a book recommendation without going over my limit of 10.)  This second book expands to include insights from over 50 people who are either retired or planning to. The respondents share their thoughts on some of the most important retirement questions that people are curious about.  This includes what people miss about their career, what their favorite parts of retirement are, and what advice they have for those planning to retire.  For more great information on retirement, stop over at Bob’s blog:  My Satisfying Retirement

  • The New Retirementality:  Planning your life and living your dreams…at any age you want by Mitch Anthony.   

Years ago, this author claimed that everything we knew and thought about retirement was wrong and what we needed was a “new retirementality.”  This book is in its 5th edition.  Enough said.

  • Retirement Heaven or Hell:  Which will you choose by Mike Drak, Susan Williams and Robert Morrison

Even though two of the authors worked in the financial planning industry, this book takes you beyond the numbers to help you design your ideal retirement lifestyle. It clearly identifies nine retirement principles that are the foundation to a happy, healthy retirement. The authors explain that you can live your your golden years in retirement heaven or retirement hell, based on the attitudes and actions you choose.  Retirement hell is a result of bad choices and poor planning.  It is boring and will “kill your soul.”  On the other hand, you can live in retirement heaven by being a retirement rebel.  You will have to read the book to learn more about what a retirement rebel is.

  • Rightsizing: A SMART Living 365 Guide to Reinventing Retirement by Kathy Gottberg

Gottberg is a very established author with several books under her belt.  Kathy bases several of her books and her excellent blog on the concept of “rightsizing.”  She identifies “rightsizing” as a conscious choice to design a lifestyle that fits your unique interests and needs, no matter what stage of life you are in.  “Rightsizing” is about shedding all the extraneous and unsustainable parts of life and trimming it down to what has meaning and purpose for you.  It is an excellent solution to our stressful, overloaded lives.  This book is a compilation of several of the author’s blog posts and provides some great suggestions on how to “rightsize” your retirement to make it happy and fulfilling.  I would also highly encourage you to visit her blog at:  SMART Living

  • What the Happiest Retirees Know:  10 habits for a healthy secure, and joyful life by Wes Moss

Moss is a Certified Financial Planner, so he was curious how much of an impact money had on happiness in retirement.   To find out, he conducted 2,000 surveys of retirees.   When he analyzed these surveys, he noted ten habits that consistently showed up among the happiest retirees.   He refers to them as the Happiest Retirees on the Block (HROBs).   You will have to read the book to discover what the ten habits are.  Hint:  Once you reach the point of financial security, more money does not make you a happier retiree.  He also identifies some characteristics of the Unhappiest Retiree on the Block (UROB).   An inspiring book that reminds you where to focus your time and attention to ensure you are in the camp as one of the HROBs.

  • Win the Retirement Game:  How to outsmart the 9 forces trying to steal your joy by Joe Casey

The title of this book might sound a little depressing, however it is anything but.  The author provides a realistic view of some of the challenges that retirees face, but he does not leave you there. He follows that with the tools you need to have a great retirement, such as a sense of curiosity, staying connected, embracing change, exploring your creativity, and discovering your new direction.  This book will inspire you to take your talent, experience and interests and repurpose them to create a meaningful and engaging retirement lifestyle.

And now the + one

And last, but not least, a shameless plug for my favorite author, Ashton Underdahl!  Yes, she is my daughter-in-law and yes, she is a newly published author.  Her book, Leader Most Loved is already a national best seller.    Her book is not about retirement but rather, it addresses the other end of the employment spectrum.   Her book offers a wholistic approach to leadership and developing teams in the challenging new work world.  So, if you know of someone interested in becoming a strong leader without sacrificing their personal life, like many of us baby boomers did, then I would highly recommend this book to them (even if she weren’t my DIL).

Visit Ashton’s website at Cadre Coeur Consulting

These books, and many others, have encouraged and inspired me to make the retirement years, my best ever.  I am grateful to the authors that took the time to pen their thoughts and experiences. 

Do you have a favorite retirement book?  Please let me know, as I am always on the lookout for fresh reading material.  Nerd that I am. 

Happy reading! 

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