Congratulations, you have just struck gold!

This is The Escape Artist’s reading list for anyone that wants to get rich. All these books are potentially life changing. You don’t need to buy them (you can get them free from your library) but you do need to read them and then take action to put their ideas into effect.

You may think that many of these books have nothing to do with money…and yes, the books do cover all aspects of life.  But don’t be fooled, the secrets to money and freedom are contained within them. The one thing they have in common is that they all helped me to reframe challenges, think independently and solve life’s practical problems.

Don’t be put off by any anti self-help prejudice you may have based on the titles. There is no get rich quick bullshit here.  I regularly re-read these books; they contain so much wisdom that I get something new every time.

Your Money or Your Life (Domingez and Robin)

Written back in the day (but recently updated), this is the original bible of financial independence. The title is a reference to Dick Turpin style highway robbers that used to give people the choice of giving up their possessions vs giving up their life. At gunpoint, most people prioritise their life over possessions.  So why can’t people see that, by getting trapped in consumer spending, they are choosing money over their life?   

The Millionaire Next Door (Stanley, Danko)

There are lots of rich people around.  Its just that we don’t notice because they are not showing off.  Forget trying to keep up with the Jones’ – those suckers on your street with the 4×4 and the big mortgage deserve your sympathy not your envy.  As they say in Texas: Big Hat, No Cattle. This is the classic book on the reality of how most millionaires make it and keep it.  A wonderful combination of facts, data and insight into the mindset of the rich.

Atomic Habits (James Clear)

This brilliant book explains why habits are so powerful, how to form better habits and drop the ones that are holding you back. It explains the power of small steps, repeated and built on over time: The Aggregation of Marginal Gains. I really connected with the authenticity of the author, whose experience and expertise is based on the work that he did on his own physical rehab to recover from a major injury. In short, the author did the work and is the real deal.

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

Naval Ravikant is a founder, tech CEO, venture capital investor and philosopher-king. He is loaded and yet as zen as a buddhist monk. Naval has figured out the principles of wealth creation and given these away for free on a series of podcasts, blogposts and tweets. He didn’t write this book for money…a fan pulled together the material from free sources and packaged it up into this book. So you can get the content for free elsewhere but the beauty of reading it all in one place is the immersion effect.

Status Anxiety (Alain de Botton)

De Botton illustrates his ideas with classical references, but the content is powerful, high class common sense.  This will make you realise that the money concerns that you have in your head are relative. In other words, they are about worries about status and comparison to others. These feelings are universal and timeless and not specific to you. It suggests alternatives to consumerism which can help you cut yourself some slack.

The Richest Man in Babylon (George Clason)

Arkad learned the ancient laws of money and, as a result, became The Richest Man in Babylon, the subject of the classic personal finance book of the same name. Now you may be wondering what relevance this might have today? But it turns out that money is still governed today by the same underlying principles which applied when prosperous men and women thronged the streets of Babylon, six thousand years ago.

The Elements of Investing (Ellis & Malkiel)

This is the investing book that I give to beginners to get them started. And for most people, it’s the only investing book they ever need.  Don’t worry about the fact that its American not British…if you swap VTSAX for VWRL then it applies pretty much 100%.  Its written by Charles Ellis (champion of low cost index investing and non-executive director of Vanguard) and Burton Malkiel.

The Intelligent Investor (Ben Graham)

Not a book for beginners. Warren Buffet calls this “By far the best book on investing ever written”.  This book provided a framework for my active investing – both asset allocation and stock selection. Don’t let the slightly old world style put you off, this is as relevant today as it was when it was first written in 1949.  If value investing were a religion, this would be The Bible.

Winning the Losers Game (Charles Ellis)

The best argument for simple, low cost equity index investing that I’ve read. It’s written by an investing legend (who was also a director of Vanguard) who does not need your money and is not trying to sell you anything.  Ellis is like the rich and successful uncle you wish you’d had: the style is elegant, calm and soothing. He explains why shares might be safer than you think and why cash might be more dangerous.

Investing Demystified (Lars Krojer)

UK investing book written by a professional investor and ex-hedge fund manager who knows his stuff. Written with commendable simplicity (and not to show off his technical expertise). A great UK summary of the passive investing approach, Lars recommends you just buy and hold a low cost equities index tracker (something like VWRL) plus enough cash or government bonds to act as shock absorbers.

RESET (David Sawyer)

As far as I’m aware, this is the only comprehensive book written about financial independence from a UK perspective. I hope David will forgive me for saying that its a product of obsession! It may be longer than it needs to be but the author’s own authentic voice shines through. The coverage of de-cluttering (an under-rated aspect of FIRE) is superb and the book is a great resource for a UK person new to the concepts of FI.

Secrets of the Millionaire Mind (T. Harv Eker)

This is the best book on the Inner Game of Money.   Eker understands the psychology of wealth building better than just about anyone else. Whether you realise it or not, you’ve been conditioned (a polite phrase for brain-washed) in how you think about money from childhood onwards. Eker explains this via the concept of your money blueprint. He then explains how to control and eventually rewire our brains to build wealth.

Manhood  (Steve Biddulph)

Step one is to realise when you have allowed yourself to become trapped in your own Prison Camp.  If you are a guy, this book might be the wake up call you need.  Biddulph explains how to think about mortgages, your mates, friendship and more.  Biddulph introduces us to the idea of the Walking Wallet – a powerful concept even if not a very comfortable one for me. I was lucky enough to meet the author in person and he is ridiculously smart (as well as being a lovely guy).

On becoming Fearless (Arianna Huffington).

You could think of this book as the female equivalent of Manhood (see above)…its a book written for women by a woman.  The book covers a bunch of themes that touch on financial independence: balancing success at work with family, overcoming fear, why you should not be just a Nice Girl but rather a confident woman, how to deal with imperfection, divorce, failure etc.

No More Mr Nice Guy (Dr. Robert Glover)

Dr Glover’s theory is that without strong male role models we end up with a generation of Nice Guys. I’m not saying this is an absolute truth…it’s just a theory. But it resonated with me (probably because I recognised some of my own flaws in it). Dr Glover’s definition of a Nice Guy is someone dependent on external validation who avoids conflict like the plague. The problem is that Nice Guys are easy meat for advertisers, marketers, salespeople and peer pressure.

Raising Boys / Raising Girls (Steve Biddulph)

OK, so these are actually 2 different books: Raising Boys and Raising Girls. Having kids prompted me to rethink my priorities. And it was Raising Boys that made me realise that being a father means more than just showing up at conception and then paying the bills – I needed to be there more.  Whether we realise it or not, we provide a role model to our children that helps shape who they become.  Biddulph offers practical advice for parents that is priceless.

The New Evolution Diet (Arthur de Vany)

This book showed me that the conventional wisdom can sometimes be 100% wrong. Turns out its easy to be slim…and it costs less as well!  This is not another faddy diet book.  The benefits may vary between people but, boy, did this work for me.  As well as food, the book covers exercise and the benefits of living a natural life.  Not only does it work, the book explains why it works with reference to evolution.

The Primal Blueprint (Mark Sisson)

An anti-consumerist book about diet, health and nutrition written by one of the main people that popularised the Paleo / Primal lifestyle. Mark Sisson was a high level athlete and he writes with honesty, integrity and great experience on the advantages of living the most natural life possible: getting outdoors, de-stressing, more play in your life, connecting with the natural world and eating real food rather than factory processed food-like products. So you can read it as a lifestyle manifesto or, if you just want to lose weight, this will do the trick (if put into action).

What Should I do With My Life? (Po Bronson)

Once you have realised that you are living in the Prison Camp, its time to read this book.  This is a collection of true stories about real people who followed their heart and made big, brave changes in their life.  Most of them did this with little or no financial security.  The Escape Artist was not brave enough to do this and so waited to get to financial independence before pulling the trigger.  But I admire those with more courage than me.   Inspiring.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey)

This book provides a framework for how to think and act effectively in every aspect of your life – its as applicable to relationships as it is to work.   It teaches you how to prioritise, focus on what you can control and be more effective at work.  This book can help you hold down a stressful job and earn more. This is the real deal: I wish I’d read this book in my early 20’s. Better late than never though.

The Magic of Thinking Big (David Schwartz)

If The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People provides the logic framework, this book provides the motivational turbo charger.  This book will challenge you to aim higher. If this is the first American self-help book you’ve read, it may seem a bit over the top but its great stuff and its grounded in reality. It has a recognisable tinge of America in the 1950s about it and may be a little bit consumerist in parts but the motivational pyschology is timeless. 

Fooled by Randomness (Nassim Taleb)

Don’t let the writing style put you off., this is a work of genius.  Yes, the author can seem cocky at times…but that’s mainly because he is smarter than you or I… and he’s Right.  The book is best known for explaining the role that luck plays in investing…but it covers careers, office politics, financial independence, why the media is mostly rubbish and much more.  Essential reading for investors but not an investing book per se.  This book introduced me to the phrase “fuck you” money.

The Black Swan (Nassim Taleb)

This book will help investors avoid ending up like a turkey at Christmas. Its a book about the impact of large, unexpected events.  You should ignore most forward looking statements by bureaucrats, economists, brokers, bloggers and politicians because they do not know what is going to happen. Which makes it all the more impressive that Taleb predicted the 2008/9 credit crisis in this book. Yes, the book is a bit longer than it needed to be but there’s a lot of value in here.

Anti-fragile (Nassim Taleb)

In Anti-fragile, Taleb develops the ideas from Fooled by Randomness and The Black Swan.  FBR and TBS are all about how to recognise and protect yourself from hidden risks.  Anti-fragile illustrates we can actually benefit from volatility.  Taleb explains why self-employed cabbies are more robust to recessions than middle income cubicle slaves, why you should be sceptical of doctors and how what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

Skin In The Game (Nassim Taleb)

One of the big problems with the modern world in general and The Prison Camp in particular is that talk is cheap and a lot of people (including many “experts”) are blagging it.  The idea of Skin In The Game is that CEOs, leaders, officials, fund managers and bossy bureaucrats should all put their money where their mouth is. Or, to put it another way, you should eat your own cooking.

Thinking fast and slow (Daniel Kahneman)

Not an easy read, this book summarises a life’s work by the guy that co-invented behavioural psychology and won the Nobel prize for doing so.  Kahneman proposes that we have 2 decision making systems. 1) an ancient hardwired reptile brain system for dealing rapidly and instinctively with threats and opportunities…this is how we feel fear and greed. 2) a more recently evolved human capacity for logical thought.  To get to FI, we need to use this second system a little more.

The Art of Thinking Clearly (Rolf Dobelli)

Easier to read and more practically focussed than Kahneman’s magnum opus Thinking Fast and Slow (above). This is like a simple guide how to apply the insights from the work of behavioural pyschologists such as Kahneman, Tversky in our everyday lives. For example, this is where I got the idea that no news is good news.  Dobelli identifies 99 cognitive errors that you will kick yourself for not having seen before.

The Selfish Gene (Richard Dawkins)

You can not really understand the human species, modern society or markets without first understanding evolution.  Everything we do has its basis in evolution, yet most people have no idea about it – they just think its something they covered in GCSE Biology to be ignored thereafter. But evolution explains our feelings and actions towards happiness, money, security, hope, fear, ambition, sex, altruism and so on…..all the important stuff.

The Rational Optimist (Matt Ridley)

This book may persuade you that maybe, just maybe, we are not all doomed.  Ridley explains human progress over through history into the modern day and the value created by trade, technology and the free exchange of ideas. Its an upbeat, optimistic companion to Jared Diamond’s excellent Guns, Germs and Steel. Ridley has a big picture perspective and a background in evolutionary biology and psychology (he’s an academic who also wrote The Red Queen, a leading book on evolution).

The Obstacle is the Way (Ryan Holiday)

An easy introduction to stoicism. This is philosophy at its most practical. We all know that shit happens in everyone’s life. What defines us is how we react to those challenges. Stoicism offers an operating system to ensure that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Holiday illustrates with stories from throughout history and features Marcus Aurelius – the only actual Roman emperor that wrote a self help book (Meditations), that you can (and should) read today.

Bring Home the Revolution (Jonathan Freedland)

You can get rich whilst being a good person. And in politics, we can combine freedom and capitalism with ethics, community spirit and environmentalism. Having the right framework matters. Because they got a clean slate on which to write their constitution, Americans were able to embed more checks and balances into their system.  This book explains we can move on from the old British class system and how politics can leave behind the traditional left vs. right Punch & Judy show.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Richard Carlson)

100 simple tips and tricks on how to re-orientate your thinking towards happiness, calm and optimism. Yes, it looks a bit self-helpy and a bit West Coast American but sometimes those dudes are Right and we need to pay attention. If you read it, you’ll probably think something like “this is all common sense, I could have written this and sold the 10 million+ copies“. But you didn’t.

The Road to Nab End (William Woodruff)

Do you remember the Monty Python Yorkshiremen sketch with the men boasting about how hard their childhoods were? They should read this and realise they had it easy. This is a life affirming true story about a working class childhood in a Lancashire mill town…and an ultimate escape to freedom and prosperity….continued in Beyond Nab End. Compared to doing what this guy did, I can assure you that getting to FI is a piece of cake.

Man’s Search For Meaning (Viktor E. Frankl)

This is not some poncey philosophy book; its raw, powerful and uplifting. Frankl was a Jewish psychologist imprisoned for three years in Auschwitz and 3 other Nazi concentration camps and this short book summarises what he learnt there.  Everyone has choices and the power to exercise them with dignity, however grim the circumstances. The secret is finding what is meaningful to you (a cause, a vocation, a passion). Like freedom and the path to financial independence perhaps?

The Inner Game of Tennis (Tim Gallwey)

How do you get better at tennis…or with money?…or any game? Answer: You get better both in your Outer Game and your Inner Game.  Outer Game is what you do. In tennis, its the game you see played on the court. Outer game includes the racquet that you use, the shots you play, the kit you wear, the tournaments you enter etc.  Inner Game is the invisible game that takes place in the mind of the player and its played against obstacles such as nervousness, self-doubt and self-condemnation.

Mindset (Carole Dweck)

One of the most useful books in understanding the underlying differences between complainers and people who get stuff done. The reason its interesting is that the concept underlying the book – that wherever you start from, you can always get better – is incredibly powerful and yet ridiculously simple.  So simple that my first thought was: why have I never thought of all this myself before? See my fuller review here.

Peak (Erricson, Pool) 

The reality of how people go from the bottom to the top of their field.  Not so much in investing or business (where luck often means its hard to tell what the real causes are) but in fields like music, sport where there is greater objectivity in determining who is the best and what methods work.  The (main) answer is deliberate practice – the relentless and focussed pursuit of gradual improvement via the aggregation of marginal gains.

The Lean Startup (Eric Ries)

After you get to financial independence, you may need something to do. So how about starting a side hustle / lifestyle business?  This is the goto book in Silicon Valley on the Correct way to start a business. You can forget long business plans, having an MBA, 5 year forecasts, borrowing money from a bank and taking lots of risk…that’s all horseshit.  This book will show you a better way.  Using The Principles of Lifehacking you can start a business (either before or after financial independence) with minimal risk and minimal capital.

The War of Art (Steven Pressfield)

A book about how to overcome procrastination (what Pressfield calls “Resistance”) and become a productive person who gets shit done. If you think you never procrastinate then you’re probably lying to yourself rationalising. There’s a lot of it about. Part of The War of Art is about dumping consumerism and its associated distractions. But it’s really about being more productive: in your job, your side hustle, your gym programme…whatever.

The Dip (Seth Godin)

The Dip is the long stretch between beginner’s luck and real accomplishment. Did you experience that exhilarating rush when you first stumble over the concept of financial independence? The Dip comes later when you are a couple of months into tracking your spending, and perhaps putting off that uncomfortable conversation with your significant other, or when you’re bogged down in paperwork trying to understand what the hell is going on with your pension. This is where many fall by the wayside. Forewarned is forearmed.

Spent (Geoffrey Miller)

This book is hilarious in an under-stated sort of way.  Written by one of the world’s leading experts in evolutionary psychology, it delivers a killer hatchet job on consumerism.  

The basic idea is that we’re wasting tons of money showing off because we’re programmed by evolution (reinforced by advertising) to chase status in our tribe to improve our chances of reproductive success…even if we don’t realise it. Miller suggests this is an inefficient strategy for getting laid. For a better way, see his next book Mate (below).

Mate (Tucker Max, Geoffrey Miller)

This is the book on attraction, sex and love that men will wish they’d read aged 16.  It’s just as valuable if you are in a long term relationship or single.

Grounded in evolutionary psychology, this book helped me better understand female perspectives on all sorts of things: including spending and pursuing financial independence.  The accompanying podcasts are free and are even better than the book (the Q&As are hilarious).

The Rational Male (Rollo Tomassi)

The author attempts to lay out a unified theory of inter-sexual dynamics that draws on evolutionary psychology and behaviorism (looking at what people actually do in reality rather than what they say).

The book provides a useful if politically incorrect framework for looking at gender dynamics.  It’s controversial but definitely worth reading and making your own mind up about.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck (Mark Manson)

This book is great on how to live in a world full of pressures to conform. 

The book didn’t change my life but perhaps that’s because I only read it later on. It spells out in one easy read concepts that took me years to figure out (e.g. the importance of purpose, disappointment and struggle). 

Its very rare to find a book as honest, funny and grounded in realism as this.  If you want a free taster, read this.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You (Cal Newport)

The best book on career development that I’ve found. This book is worth the price just for the title alone.

Want to get a well paid job? Want a promotion?

That ain’t gonna happen by chance and it ain’t gonna happen because you are nice.  It will happen when you are so good that they can’t ignore you. 

In this world, its best to work on the assumption that no one is gonna bat for you if you won’t bat for yourself.

How To Win Friends And Influence People (Dale Carnegie)

I know what you’re thinking…you already have friends. There’s nothing wrong with you…so why would you need to read this book?

The answer is that to earn more, you will almost certainly need to get better with dealing with other people.

You will almost certainly need to get promoted and be able to deal with / sell to / influence / persuade other people.  Remember: earning more is not cheating.

How To Fail At Everything And Still Win Big (Scott Adams)

I found 2 huge insights in this book.

Firstly the idea that systems are more important than goals. We should think less about being rich (a goal) and more about what we’re doing right now to get rich (our system).

Secondly, most of feeling good boils down to diet, sleep, and control over your diary. Full financial independence is nice but maybe the formula for happiness is as simple as daydreaming, controlling your schedule, napping, eating right, and being active every day?

Loserthink (Scott Adams)

Another great book about the art of thinking clearly. Adams shows how to think like an engineer, an artist, an economist and think in ways that are helpful to you and appropriate to the context. 

If you think that’s easy, think again.  Adams explains how we are brainwashed influenced by the news media and other propaganda all the time and how we can start to reverse that process.

Choose FI (Chris Mamula)

This book was mostly written by Chris Mamula who has walked the long path to financial independence himself and it shows in the quality of the writing and the understanding of the subject matter.

Deals really well not just with the nuts and bolts of finance (its American but easily translateable) but also the all-important mental aspects of the game.

The Behavior Gap (Carl Richards)

Carl Richards is a financial adviser who talks about the good and the bad of their own industry with a rare degree of honesty.

Carl popularised the concept of The Behavior Gap, the gap between the behaviour that we know we should do and what we actually do in practice.

It’s bad behavior by investors (buying high, selling low, churning, market timing, poor fund/stock selection etc) that leads to investment returns less than you’d get from just buying and holding a tracker fund. Often the problem is not lack of information, its behavioural.

The Psychology of Money (Morgan Housel)

The first big-selling mainstream personal finance book that followed (and has obviously been influenced by) the rise of the financial independence movement. Housel has liberally stolen borrowed FI ideas from MMM et al and good for him…the book is all the better for that.

This means we get a more honest product that acknowledges and celebrates the fact that humans are not all rational economic actors and that psychology, mindset and behaviour matter A LOT.

How to Get Rich (Felix Dennis)

This book is hilariously honest and may put you off the search for riches…or at least make you to question how much is enough?

In his early years Felix Dennis lived in a squat and spent some time in prison. He eventually created a major publishing empire and made the best part of a billion pounds. He spent crazy amounts on trophies, drugs and hookers but eventually realised this was not making him happy (and was screwing up his health).

He found peace in a simpler life where he wrote poetry, drank wine and enjoyed views of the harbour, palm trees and the Caribbean sea. When he died, he left his money to a foundation dedicated to planting trees.

The Coddling of The American Mind (Jonathan Haidt & Greg Lukianoff)

Jonathan Haidt, a psychology professor, and Greg Lukianoff, a law professor, first identify and then take down what they call The Big 3 Lies of modern life.

These are 1. The Untruth of Fragility (what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker) 2. The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning (always trust your feelings). 3. The Untruth of Us versus Them (Life is a battle between people that are 100% good and people that are 100% bad).

This book bridges the gap between Left and Right and explains the roots of many of the things that have gone wrong in American (and Western) society.

On Liberty (JS Mill)

On Liberty is the manifesto for the classical liberal values that underpin western democracy.

Written in 1859 by John Stuart Mill it sets out three basic liberties in order of importance: (1) The freedom of thought, emotion and speech (2) The freedom to pursue tastes (even those considered immoral) provided they do no harm to others (3) The freedom of association (again as long as no harm is done to others).

This book is a precious part of our heritage and right now, its more important than ever.

1984 (George Orwell)

1984 is George Orwell’s classic novel written in 1948 the aftermath of the second world war. The epic clash between Nazism and Communism had just cost maybe 50 million lives.

What is most striking about National Socialism (Nazism) and Communism was how similar they were (and remain to this day).

Both are forms of totalitarianism where the government attempts to squeeze out all diversity of thought and eliminate all freedom of expression in order to maintain control over the masses and reserve power for the dictator and their inner circle.

Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)

But what if the enslavement came from our own desire for comfort, safety and order? What if we created an authoritarian surveillance state because that’s what most people wanted?

Brave New World shows such a world where people give up their freedom and swap reality and responsibility for cheap dopamine hits and easy pleasures such as their screens, TV, electronic entertainment etc and happy pills.

Good job that could never happen in real life right?

Invest in Yourself (Eisonson, Detweiler & Castelman)

This is not the best book in the world. Its not the best book on financial independence. Or investing. Or self-help. Or philosophy. 

But it IS the book that really got me started on The Path.  You could say that its all just common sense.

But common sense seems to be the scarcest commodity in The Prison Camp.  Effectiveness is the measure of Truth and this book worked for me.


  1. Quite a few of these are on my list of favourites. Others I will be sure to check out (of the library that is). “The Millionaire Next Door” is what started it all for me. Thanks for sharing your list.

  2. F2P – No problem – these books are what worked for me but please do feel free to share any other books you think are worthy of highlighting to other readers via the comments section

    1. Happy to oblige. Here you go:

      How we make decisions & its impact on our happiness:
      – The Paradox of Choice
      – Predictably Irrational
      – Scarcity
      – Blink

      Stoicism (aka happiness and fulfillment is a matter of perspective):
      – A Guide To The Good Life

      How to value your time:
      – Your Money Or Your Life
      – The Overworked American

      Money & Investing:
      – The Richest Man In Babylon

      How to learn to go against the grain and focus on what truly matters, not on what society tells you to do and care about:
      – The Art of Non-Conformity
      – The News: An Owner’s Manual
      – An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth

      1. Thanks F2P, these books are a great addition to this page…readers take note!

  3. paullypips · · Reply

    I’ve just ordered number 2. Status Anxiety (Alain de Botton) for my Kindle. Many thanks for the suggestion.

  4. Currently reading fooled by randomness but wow… It looks like I have a lot of reading to do! Thanks for the suggestions!

  5. TheTurnaround · · Reply

    Hello T.E.A

    New reader of your blog here and loving it already. I especially love the writing style.

    I discovered Mr. Money Mustache a month ago and have since changed my whole perspective on life, fully believing I can retire with FI ahead of the standard 75 year old mark – albeit starting out at the ripe age of 28.

    I have since read all his blog, Monevator, the book Economics Explained recommended by MMM, and I’m currently working on Smarter Investing as per Monevator’s recommendation.

    I’m now going to read all of this blog.

    Question though, if I may…

    How intricate is the science or art to choosing buy and hold stocks?

    Reading through Smarter Investing, and knowing how MMM does it, I am almost certain I will arrive at index trackers only, and leave the individual picks to more economics savvy folk such as yourself.

    (Now I finally arrive at my point)

    If I wanted to read and gain a deeper insight into economics (there are still some terms and concepts that go over my head), are there any other books not on this list that will give me a deeper understanding? Economics Explained was enjoyable but felt like a primer.

    Time is of the essence as soon I will mostly be reading IT certification books in order to hopefully switch out my hotel duty manager mediocrity for an entry into the tech field to increase the all important earning power to combine with, and form the miracle triumvirate of, frugality and compound interest 😀

    Thanks for giving me another great blog to read!

  6. Thanks for the thought provoking list of books to consider. “Manhood” sounds like a must read. I imagine “Status Anxiety” to be similar in theme to “Affluenza” by Oliver James.

    One other book that I can recommend is “Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” by Susan Cain. Upon reading it, I am willing to bet that the majority of people that pursue FI are introverts on the basis of our “new brain” model of thinking that promotes thinking, planning and rationality ahead of emotions and instinct that dominate for extroverts. Susan argues that these qualities make us better equipped to delay gratification, one of the key tenets of the path to FI.

    Linked to this, introverts are also less “reward-sensitive” than extroverts. I interpret this as being more drawn to intimacy, authenticity and meaning rather than status and reward. Given that modern corporate life eschews many of the the values that drive introverts, it follows that we are the ones that dream of socking it to The Man, often very early in our careers.

  7. Stacey B. · · Reply

    Thanks for sharing this awesome list of recommendations with your readers 🙂 I have added quite a few of these to my “TBR” pile. I have a book that offers advice and helps both your career/business and personal life called “Life In Half a Second” by author Matthew Michalewicz ( <—you can download the first chapter for free on his website). It was recommended to me by a friend and although I went in a little skeptical, wow was I wrong. This book is a perfect example of what can be achieved by an author who is an expert at his subject and very passionate as well. He provides a fact based formula for achieving success not only in business but in life. It is not often that I come across a business book that also tackles self help too! Using real world examples and even science to relay the material, this book can really boost you into overdrive to achieve your goals and desires. I highly recommend it because it really can inspire anyone (students, CEOs, people who feel stuck in their jobs) check it out! Hopefully this will make it on a future list of yours

  8. I have to recommend a book I recently entitled “Mentor Me” by author Ken Poirot. Ken has worked in financial services for almost 20 years and his passion about the industry shines through his writing. I really liked how interactive the book was. There is a personality quiz, exercises and a journal so that you are learning and retaining information along the way. I am a much more hands on learner and found that this book and it’s message has stayed with me more than any other self help books I’ve read. This book has some really great insight into achieving your goals realistically and I find myself feeling much more motivated and prepared for the future after reading it. Its strategies can be applied to business or to everyday life and I really appreciate the effort and love that the author has put into this book. I hope you and your readers will check it out – (

  9. Riese Jones · · Reply

    I read “Mentor Me” by Ken Poirot! Amazing book! One of all time favorites! Best self-help book I have read so far!

  10. A book that definitely deserves to be on this list is “Social Wealth” by author Jason Treu ( This book really spoke to me as I have always felt personal connections and relationships were the keys to success in all things. The author has gone above and beyond to educate and inform the reader with solid strategies to get them where they need in life. I love the way he gave me real world tools to put into action the plans outlined in his book. A great read that stresses the point that a personal transformation can be simple!

  11. I just finished reading The Black Swan. Definitely interesting and at times a compelling read, but Taleb seems to be working so hard to present himself as an iconoclast it was a bit off-putting. I couldn’t help noticing he seems to have immense disdain for the idea of investing money in the stock market. Have you taken this idea to heart with your own investments? Personally I’m intending to stick with my index tracking funds anyway, but I wonder if I’m being a fool. I don’t see any realistic alternative to equities or property, and if the global financial system does come crashing down then frankly there’s not much I can do to prepare myself for it beforehand anyway.

    1. Steve – I know exactly what you mean. Taleb has a cocky style that puts some people off. But that style point shouldn’t be allowed to obscure the quality of his ideas.

      Taleb is I think irritated by a lot of the comment associated with the stock market (predictions, false experts, lack of understanding of probabilities, behavioural biases, greed).

      I certainly do not let that put me off index tracking. Taleb would probably include some gold and some property in his portfolio. But you are right….if the entire capitalist system crashes down, then no portfolio will save us.

  12. Good list, I’ve read 13 of those and have had quite a few others on my to-read list.

    I couldn’t recommend Antifragile to anyone though. There were some interesting ideas in there, but I found it almost unreadable. It really needed some better writing and stricter editing.

  13. Austin Allegro · · Reply

    Hello there, I’ve been lurking for a while on this excellent site – so refreshing to finally see a British blog about financial independence.

    In 2011 I ‘downsized’ to part time work from home, so I’m not fully FI, but a lot of the same principles hold good.

    Here’s my list of books that ‘changed my life’. The good bit is they’re all free online.

    ‘The Quest of the Simple Life’ by William Dawson. Fascinating account of a clerk who gave up the hamster wheel of Victorian London and downsized to the country.

    ‘Walden’ by Henry David Thoreau, particularly the chapter ‘On Economy’. Well known book about the American writer in the 1840s who lived alone in a cabin in the woods in New England.

    ‘Thrift’ and ‘Self Help’ by Samuel Smiles – the father of self-help. These mid-Victorian books can be a bit hard going in places, but are well worth at least skimming through.

    ‘Cheerfulness as a Life Power’ by Orison Swett Marden. Mr Marden was the father of American self-help books. He was part of the New Thought positive thinking movement of the 19th century.

    A couple of novels changed my outlook as well – both by George Orwell. ‘Coming up for Air’, about a 1930s salesman who realises suburban life is a con, and decides to revisit the village of his youth, and ‘Keep the Aspidistra Flying’ about an advertising executive who gives up a ‘good’ job to become a penniless poet.

    1. Thanks AA…please pay it forward and send the link to anyone who’d enjoy the site. Walden is currently on my book shelf awaiting reading….thanks for the book suggestions….I note a classical tilt to your taste

  14. Austin Allegro · · Reply

    Thanks, it’s not really a classical tilt, it’s just that they tend to be the free books!

    ‘Walden is good’, but it can be a bit hard going in places. The chapter on economy is the best one to read if you don’t have time for the rest. Apparently Thoreau wasn’t quite the wild-man he made himself out to be, and used to pop home to his mum’s quite regularly for baths and hot meals – but you can’t fault his philosophy.

    A more modern book (1960s) I’ve read is ‘Hovel in the Hills’ by Elizabeth West. She and her husband in the early 60s were able in two years or so, while working at middle-income jobs, to save up enough money to buy a farmhouse in Wales (imagine that nowadays!) to live a financially independent life based on frugality and odd-jobs.

  15. Some great suggestions here. I’ve read quite a few of them myself. One I’d suggest is The Antidote by Oliver Burkeman, which take a very amusing swipe at many of the self-help gurus while also being quite a serious investigation into the “happiness industry”. Fortunately for me, it turns out that being negative about the future is one good way to find contentment. Much as I admire Covey et al, their relentless positivity sometimes gets on my nerves!

  16. A world of my own by Robin Knox-Johnson, This one will probably be a bit like marmite to the PF scene.
    Man sets of on a race, to sail around the world solo nonstop (something which had never been done before) in the yacht he had, rather than the one he wanted.
    The enforced frugality and isolation, make it a fascinating read.
    Says a lot about preparing the best you can, and then just doing it.

  17. A few more to add to the list:
    1. Rich dad, poor dad by Robert Kiyosaki
    2, The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss (check out his Podcast as well. Some great guests)
    3. The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson
    4. The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

    1. Another vote here for The Slight Edge! I’m working my way through a few different reading lists like this one, so far The Slight Edge is the only book I’ve gone back and re-read. Another I’d recommend on similar lines is The One Thing by Gary Keller.

  18. Sasha Cohen · · Reply

    I can’t wait to read some of the books on this list! I have a book to add. This is a great blog post. I have been struggling with personal issues for 10 years and have found reaching out online to seek the advice of others has helped me through the good and bad time. I have always had relationship issues and have started to follow the advice of Dr. Robi Ludwig. I saw her on a tv show once and I really appreciated her take on current psychological issues. She has written two books but my favorite book is with Your Best Age is Now I have read it and loved it! I highly recommend it to anyone out there struggling.

  19. My life changing book on the health front was “Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog, Get Strong, Get Lean, No Bullshit” by Grant Peterson. It popped up in my amazon recommends … because I had read his previous book “Just Ride”. His reading list at the back contains some nuggets including “Convict Conditioning” by Paul Wade. All are excellent.

  20. Elizabeth Uglow · · Reply

    I think you should add “the chimp paradox” to your list

    You seem interested in behaviour and it’s evolutionary basis, as am I, and this book links how humans can manage but never lose their primative instincts

    I have this book on audio and have listened to it through a difficult time of my life.
    The models he uses make it so much easier for me to discuss my behaviour with myself and others.

    It’s not just a meandering tome. It is very thoughtfully put together with themes building up and up, and all being tied together

    I even found myself making notes and listening and relistening as if it were a lecture

    I have managed to successfully carry it through to modify and understand my behaviour.

    He has worked with elite athletes and a quick google shows he has a pretty good athletic record himself

    I have read most of the books on our list, agree with your philosophy about things and so, sorry if you already have read it, think you may want to consider adding it to your list.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth…I’ve not read that yet…sounds interesting

  21. thedoffer · · Reply

    Excellent list. A lot of these are on my ‘to read’ list, which just gets bigger quicker than I can actually read the books.

    I loved the Rational Optimist. As you say, it gives hope that we are not totally messing up the planet as bad as people think.

    Two books which have been great for me recently are “Happy” by Derren Brown and Stumbling on Happiness” by Dan Gilbert. These two delve into the psychology behind happiness. There are so many examples that can relate to spending, consumerism and, well, happiness and money.

  22. …and we shouldn’t forget that we can read (most of) these books without buying them, without even visiting the library. My favourite source is OpenLibrary which is a non-profit that allows you to ‘borrow’ ebooks for free no matter where in the world you’re based. They have some of these books available. I have compiled a list of the titles that you can find in ebook libraries or subscription sites: I have borrowed and read and enjoyed The Millionaire Next Door, Fooled by Randomness and Your Money or Your Life so far. Thanks TEA for the recommendations, I think I will eventually read them all.

  23. Ali Sutton · · Reply

    Marco LeRoc has a great one that would fit this list called Activate Your Untapped Potential. He discusses that we really can meet our goals and flourish. I find his book has helped me being on a better road to promoting at work and getting the things that I work so hard for!

  24. I’d recommend:

    1. “Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up” by James Hollis. He is a hugely experienced Jungian Psychotherapist and it is a fascinating, thoughtful book.

    2. “Love’s Executioner” by Irvin Yalom. A series of case studies of Yalom’s clients (he’s an existential psychotherapist), in which he is so sensitive and brutally honest about their issues and his own. Hugely insightful into the human condition and how our essential needs drive us.

    The more we learn of ourselves, the better we can challenge unhelpful patterns which hold us back, including in respect of our learnt “money scripts”, attitudes of abundance or scarcity and the like.

  25. I read Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton. Interesting book. Thanks for the recommendation.He’s a philosopher and expresses himself clearly. That does not mean he is up his own…

    He takes the long view of things and explains why he thinks Status Anxiety is more or a problem now than before the industrial revolution. To the extent that we now have a meritocracy, you worry a lot more about not succeeding, because it reflects on your own merit. It’s like the difference between playing a game of pure chance and chess. Chess is more stressful!

    He not only explains the problem but also surveys different types of solutions and how they have all been addressing the problem over the last two hundred years. A big one is challenging the current / local society definition of success and not letting them impose it on you without your own rational review. But also and talks about solutions in Christianity, art, politics and Bohemian lifestyles.

  26. fuchs44 · · Reply

    Thanks for the list! I came here from listening to you on the ChooseFI podcast with Alan (E49). I like and appreciate that your book list is different from the typical financial independence book lists. You’ve got it that the mental approach to life and happiness needs to be included as well. I’m always looking for new material to expand my knowledge. It’s good to get different perspectives and different books/topics to check out rather than reading similar material repackaged over and over and getting into the rut of confirmation bias.

  27. Great book list. I’ve read The Intelligent Investor, Man’s search of meaning, the richest man in Babylon and the obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday among others. The last one has personally helped me the most, learning how to overcome obstacles is esencial for reaching success, not that I consider myself successful yet though. I also read the Ryan’s book “Ego is your Enemy”, very useful to realise how much our Ego is controlling our acts and decisions and therefore how detrimental can be to achieve our goals.

    The next ones I want to read are “the millionaire next door”, “your money or your life” and “Principles “ by Ray Dalio.

  28. […] list on what is highly regarded by people I regard as peers, I encourage you to check these lists: …but now over to you – what has […]

  29. […] Lockdown a chance to read great books! […]

  30. […] how James Clear puts it in Atomic Habits, one of the best books on financial success (particularly impressive when you consider that it’s not even a book about […]

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