When I retired, a good friend gave me a shopping bag full of books about retirement. She knows I am a researcher at heart and did not have a life plan in place on the day I retired. As she is also a few years behind me in the journey, she joked that I should curate the books for her.
But it was a known fact at work that I very often summarized business-related books into Cliff Note-like summaries. Teammates wanted my summaries instead of reading the books. Was this my friend’s hidden agenda as well – a summary instead of a set of books? This time, with reading so many retirement books in my research, my Cliff-Note synthesis has become a multipage book-that-will-never-be-published.
Why never to be published? In my corporate career I always encouraged a “search and reapply” philosophy. Not to reinvent the wheel but to understand what had been done before and either build on it, or just use it. I never understood the need to re-invent just to say it was your work if someone else had already shown it was a good idea or tool. For me, work success was about getting to the best results and if someone has a great tool already that worked, I wanted to use it. Unfortunately, I believe in the world of writing and publishing, this search & reapply philosophy is called plagiarism.
The original bag of books I received led to others recommended within them. Reading various retirement blogs and doing basic research into retirement transition identified even more books. So all my researching into retirement transition has resulted in reading 27 books so far. (That is not a typo, I am an avid reader as well as a researcher.) There are even 3 books still on my reading list. And I am sure this post will generate a few more you-must-read recommendations!
So, my top 10 curated reads that I will give back to my friend the day she retires? This list has my quick reviews, in case you are interested in why they made my top 10. And yes, I will probably give her my never-to-be-published book as well, so I can claim one reader!
The Joy of Retirement by David C. Borchard. 5-star. Lots of how-to for defining who you want to be in retirement and the lifestyle that will help you be that person. Big sections on roles, talents, and values in defining your vision statement.
Don’t Retire, Rewire by Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners. 5-star. It’s a “how-to” on defining your satisfaction drivers (motivational needs), skills and strengths, and “accomplishments”, plus a clear guide for working through what in your work life was satisfied by your drivers and how to brainstorm possibilities for future. Assumes you WILL work in retirement.
How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free by Ernie J Zelinski Another 5-star. A great “get a life tree” concept and real people case studies (as opposed to all professional, CEO types). This book has a real focus on “Leisure” (not Work) aspect of retirement.
65 Things to do When you Retire is in fact 65 essays about retirement, many of which were very inspiring. Edited by Mark Evans Chimsky, a 4-star.
Your Retirement Quest by Alan Spector and Keith Lawrence. 4-star, a good foundational book covers all the bases, but is targeted more for the 5 years preceding retirement.
What Color is your Parachute – for Retirement – Some stuff on finances, but lots on health and happiness. Really liked the values thinking. 4-star
Now What? Know Who you are , Get What you Want by Laura Berman Fortgang. 4-star. Very easy style to read and it’s another how-to-process! The focus is on second career identification but the process can be reapplied easily to retirement (or even divorce).
Second Act Careers by Nancy Collamer. 4-star. A broad range of part-time income stream possibilities with lots of resource connections (to get more information). Second half of the books is on self-reflection, making choices and activating a plan.
Creating your Best Life by Caroline Adams Miller and Dr Michael Frisch. 4-star, I found it helpful in creating a “life list” that was different than a bucket list.
The Couples Retirement Puzzle by Roberta K. Taylor and Dorian Mintzer. I only give it 3-star, but it is unique in that it talks about transitioning as a duo in life and does cover all the bases you need to think about.