I ONCE HEARD that there are more than 1,000 books in print on the subject of personal finance relating to retirement. That doesn't surprise me. Many times, bookstores make the assumption that's the only type of "retirement" book that matters.
Few bookstores identify a retirement section that really does justice to the wide spectrum of retirement issues. To be fair, though, there are very few retirement books available that are not about money. The truth is that there simply have not been many books written to date that concentrate on retirement issues other than finances. Of those, here are my winners, in order of preference:
• "The Joy of Not Working," by Ernie Zelinski (Ten Speed Press, 1997). Still very much in print, this book does not come up on Internet searches for retirement books. Why? Because "retirement" is not in the title! Dumb, but true. In any case, I rate it as the best book written on the overall subject of retirement to date. It has a good mix of depth and levity, it's easy to read and get through, and there even some great cartoons. It presents positive, bullish advice about life beyond working. The sections on activities are worth the price of admission in themselves. This is a great book for people in any stage of retirement or pre-retirement.
• "Breaking the Watch: The Meanings of Retirement in America," by Joel Savishinsky (Cornell University Press, 2000). I was thrilled when I came across this book, mainly because I think it complements "The Joy of Not Working" so well. It tells the stories of 26 retirees, how they made their decisions, how they made adjustments, and what they think about the world of retirement. Some truly profound advice and information is offered, and, via the 26 people, it seems like just about every example of a retirement lifestyle or experience is given.
• "Get a Life: You Don't Need a Million to Retire Well," by Ralph Warner (Nolo Press, 1996). This book blends retirement lifestyle advice with scenarios of real people who show that it can be done. The best parts of the book involve advice about loving life, not money.
• "Retirement on a Shoestring," by John Howells (Gateway Books, 1995). From the author of "Where to Retire," "Choose Costa Rica," "Choose Mexico" and many others, this book gives retirement strategies on how to live comfortably without great wealth. But it does so much more. Its chapter on college towns was way ahead of its time, and the chapter on RVs is a classic, full of useful insights. It also has sections on women and singles, two subjects that seldom come up in other books.
Honorable mentions include "Your Renaissance Years: Making Retirement the Best Years of Your Life," by Robert Veninga; and "Kiplinger's Retire & Thrive," by Robert Otterbourg.
Got any other retirement books that you liked or didn't like that you'd like to pass on to others? Or let me know about my suggestions.