The Best (Non-Financial) Financial Books

From time to time people ask me to give them recommendations on good finance books. When I respond, I either get blank stares or laughs…

What’s so funny about the Tao Te Ching, Thoreau’s Walden, or Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling On Happiness?

Were they expecting something like Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace, Kiyosaki’s Poor Dad / Rich Dad or Curtis Faith’s Way of the Turtle? While these are good books (at least measured by sales), I’m not sure it’s responsible to blindly send people on their way to read how someone else got rich. Did the authors of these finance books get rich as a result of reading a book about getting rich? Or did they find success by finding their own pathway to it?

Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought. ~ Basho

As you may have already guessed, my reasoning for recommending non-financial books for financial guidance is three-tiered:

  1. The world doesn’t need more lists of “best financial books.” There are too many as it is now.
  2. Most people that ask for financial book recommendations don’t want to read a financial book; they want a get-rich-quick book.
  3. I believe the greatest need in the Business/Finance section of book stores is the Books to Read Before You Read the Finance Book section. Outside of Wall Street, the purpose of money is not to make more money; it is to serve a non-financial purpose. Therefore it is philosophy that guides finance: Life is not about making money; money is about making a life.

Furthermore, book recommendations are no more objective than any other “best of” list designed to attract curious readers who end up angry at the list author for not including their selection of what is “best.” It is the readers that know what is best, right?

Barry got it right when he asked readers (you) for ideas on the Greatest American Rock and Roll Band, which remains among his all-time popular posts on this blog. In the post, he briefly offered his own top three rock bands but quickly asked the readers for theirs.

In that spirit, I’d like to know what you believe are the top 3 non-financial financial books.

As Barry would say, “What say ye?”


Kent Thune is blog author of The Financial Philosopher. You can follow him on Twitter @TheThinkersQuill.

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