Book Reviews

We both read a lot of books, on all kinds of topics, so there’s no way we are going to try to compile a list of all of our favorite books. Instead we are highlighting some of our favorite books on the topics of Personal Finance and Travel.

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Personal Finance and Investing

It was surprisingly helpful for us to expand our financial education through books on personal finance and investing. Each of the books below exposed us to different viewpoints, experiences, and aspects of money. As I mentioned in my “What’s Our Number?” post, I’m dyslexic. So I only read books as unabridged audio books or text to speech digital files. The first place I always look is online at the library, and I have found many of the books below that way. The next place I look is Audible.com.
~Alison

Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny-Pinching Way. By Tanja Hester. Tanja Hester is one of the bloggers I’ve been following for a while. Her book is partially focused on finding your reason to reach for FIRE. She delves into a number of exercises to help you identify and focus your goals in an effort to help reach FIRE, but also to create a meaningful post-FIRE life.

Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence. By Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez. Vicki Robin is one of the mothers of the FIRE movement. In the late 1980s, she and her partner Joe Dominguez developed a transformational seminar to help teach folks how to change their toxic relationships with money. Since Joe’s death in 1997, Vicki has continued to speak, write, and teach continuing their work. Your Money or Your Life walks you through a 9 step program to help shift your relationship with money. Updated in 2018, this book includes current FIRE topics on index investing, online resources, and more.

Quit Like a Millionaire: No Gimmicks, Luck, or Trust Fund Required. By Kristy Shen, Bryce Leung. Kristy does a really good job of weaving together her life experiences and limiting beliefs to help explain her very original approach to money. I love the way she shared her lightbulb moments and personal choices. I also enjoyed the forward by JL Collins. And most of all, I love Kristy’s blunt and honest approach to making money work for her and her way of showing what it looks like to take control and choose your own financial direction.

The Simple Path to Wealth: Your road map to financial independence and a rich, free life. By JL Collins. This is a wonderful and gentle conversation about how to invest to achieve your FIRE dreams. JL Collins wrote this like a letter to his daughter to make sure he shared with her everything he thought she should know to invest for her future. I love sharing this as a starter book for folks interested in FIRE.

Meet The Frugalwoods: Achieving Financial Independence Through Simple Living. By Elizabeth Willard Thames. This is a wonderfully written personal story of a young couple in there 30’s reaching financial independence, and then moving out of a big city to live in the woods of Vermont. It chronicles how they set their goal of shifting from just weekend getaways in nature to being full-time homesteaders.

Your Retirement Dream IS Possible: The Adventurer’s Guide to the Possible Dream. By Billy and Akaisha Kaderli. Billy and Akaisha have been retired since 1991, living off their investments and traveling the world. Their book walks you through their story, how they manage their investments, their style of day to day living, and their success in early retirement.

The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel. By Benjamin Graham and Jason Zweig. Originally written in 1949, this little book walks you through how to build longterm approaches to investing while shielding yourself from investor errors. This is a must-read if you are investing in the stock market.

The Little Book of Common Sense Investing: The Only Way to Guarantee Your Fair Share of Stock Market Returns. By John C. Bogle. Written by Jack Bogle who started Vanguard Funds, this book makes the case that the only way to assure success in investing in the stock market is through buy and hold, low cost mutual funds. Another must read!

The Little Book That Still Beats the Market. By Joel Greenblatt. Another simple and straight forward explanation of value investing for the longterm in individual stocks. This book is written in a very accessible manner so that even a newbee could understand the advanced topics.

The Little Book That Builds Wealth: The Knockout Formula for Finding Great Investments Hardcover. By Pat Dorsey. The author reviews stock researching techniques used by Morningstar to identify companies with competitive advantages, and explains why these advantages are so important when picking companies to invest in.

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life. By Alice Schroeder. This is the Warren Buffett authorized memoir. If you want to know more about Buffett, start here.

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy. By Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko. This little book reminds us that most “wealthy” folks don’t wear their wealth on their sleeve. Most of the people in the US who can be defined as wealthy are your neighbors or the people sitting next to you on the bus. This book describes 7 traits that most wealthy folks personify.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing. By Burton G. Malkiel. This is an interesting look at high volume traders compared to the average investor, and how the average investor can still win. The author gives a great introduction to how the stock market works along with ideas about portfolio types and investment strategies.

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. By Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This book looks at systems that benefit from disorder and chaos. The author describes all kinds of systems that actually benefit and survive because they are inefficient.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. By Nassim Nicholas Taleb. In this book Taleb examines how everyone plans for the most optimal scenario, and yet the most likely outcome is what might seem impossible. It’s a fun read that helped us work towards planning for the unexpected when building our own FIRE plan.

Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets. By Nassim Nicholas Taleb. In this book Taleb argues that the world is a lot less explainable than we want to think. And what masquerades as skill is really a bit of luck. This is a great read if you have any interest in behaviorally economics or investing.

Bull: A History of the Boom and Bust, 1982-2004. By Maggie Mahar. As part of understanding the current bull market we are in right now, I found this deep dive into the bull market of 1982 to 2004 really helpful. Mahar talks about all the main players that reported, analyzed, and traded during that big market run-up.

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. By Michael Lewis. Lewis does a great telling a really interesting story around the phenomenon of the “flash crash” and how the use of computers, rules, time, and the shortest distance between two points was being leveraged to find a quick advantage and make a lot of money.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. By Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. If you want a fun introduction to economics this is it. This book gives a great explanation of how incentives drive our large and small markets. This is a fun, silly, and eye opening read.

SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. By Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. Yet again, Levitt and Dubner take fun and hilarious look at the word of economics through engaging storytelling. Another entertaining and educational read.

Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street. By Michael Lewis. Lewis tells his own story about his quick path to success in the 1980’s on Wall Street. You just can’t make this stuff up. You get to see the downfall of a giant trading company and go along on a journey through the investment markets from the 70’s to the 80’s, all through Lewis’s firsthand accounts and stories.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. By Michael Lewis. In this book Lewis takes us through the very sad timeline leading up to the crash of 2008 through the back door of 4 investment groups who saw the housing collapse coming. But no one listened.

One Up On Wall Street: How To Use What You Already Know To Make Money In The Market. By Peter Lynch. Lynch was one of the most successful investors in history while at Fidelity. He explains how to use your own experience with products to pick individual stocks successfully. He also talks about tuning out all of the talking heads when it comes to the market and investing on your own terms.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. By Peter Thiel. This book is about entrepreneurship and the value of discovery. The idea is that the world and markets evolve when we invent something new, not when we make more of what we already have.


Travel

For now I’m going to resist the urge of including novels that just happen to be set in some of my favorite places like France, Japan, Scotland, Vietnam, etc. But I do highly recommend reading books set in your travel destinations. Below are the main travel related books that seemed especially helpful and inspiring for us as we were making plans to travel as nomads.
~Ali

The Adventurer’s Guide to Destination Choices. By Billy and Akaisha Kaderli. This book does an amazing job of comparing Guatemala, Mexico, Thailand, and the USA. I used this book to decide where we should start our life as full-time nomads, and learned a lot about each of these places. This book succeeded in making us want to spend a lot of time in Thailand, Guatemala, and Mexico. And say adios to the USA.

Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life, and Saw the World. By Lynne Martin. This is categorized on Amazon as “senior travel” but it’s a fun read for anyone who loves part-time or full-time travel. We first read this book when we were trying to wrap our minds around the idea of retiring early and possibly traveling full-time. It was exactly what we needed. Lynne’s book is full of great stories about individual destinations, and their personal travel experiences. We both found it to be hugely entertaining. And it gave us a lot of insight about what our nomadic lifestyle might look like.

Travel as a Political Act. By Rick Steves. We have been enjoying Rick’s TV shows, radio shows, podcasts, walking tours, and travel guides for what seems like forever. His home is near Seattle so we used to think of him as almost a neighbor and a buddy. Since he’s a laid back guy a lot of people think of him that way. Rick really knows how to appreciate other countries, and this book might be the most important thing we have personally gotten from him so far. Americans have a bad habit of believing the US is superior to and safer than the rest of the world. Not true. This book is a remedy for that kind of xenophobia, and a wonderful description of how fulfilling travel can be.

Your Keys, Our Home: The Senior Nomads Incredible Airbnb Journey. By Debbie and Michael Campbell. This is another fabulous book categorized as “senior travel.” It’s also categorized as “budget travel.” This book is not just for seniors and it’s not just for Airbnb owners or users either. This is a really entertaining and informative book about travel and especially about full-time travel. Ironically, these people are also from Seattle! Debbie and Michael are living in Airbnbs and traveling the world as nomads. We have learned so much from them. Their stories are full of travel tips, entertaining foibles, and heartwarming moments. We love this book and their travel blog

How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter. By Matt Kepnes. Nomadic Matt is one of my favorite travel bloggers and this book is a must have on our nomad book shelf. This was one of the most important reads for us when we were figuring out what we were going to change in our own habits as we transitioned away from being”vacationers” and made the switch to being full-time nomads. This book really reinforces the idea that traveling does not need to be expensive and that traveling can seriously be affordable for anyone. And it was really helpful for me personally to read a book from a nomad out there that was closer to my own age!