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Read your way to early retirement.

Americans of all ages are dreaming of retiring early. In the past year, “how to retire early” was the second most-asked retirement question on Google, and a 2018 MassMutual survey found that four in 10 Americans say they want to retire before 60. Of course, most people will need a lot more money than they’ve got now to do it — one in three Americans has less than $5,000 in retirement savings, according to Northwestern Mutual — as well as a lot of help in the planning department. So MarketWatch asked about a dozen financial experts to give us the scoop on the one book you must read if you want to retire early. (Most are now available for free on Amazon with a free Audible trial.)

“The Simple Path to Wealth: Your Road Map to Financial Independence and a Rich, Free Life” by JL Collins — about $15 on Amazon. This was the No. 1 most recommended book by our panel of financial experts. “This is a book that can change how you think about early retirement, investing, and help you course correct to make it an actual possibility,” says Michael Kern, a CPA and founder of Talent Financial. Financial coach Michael Quan calls it “powerful,” noting that the author “breaks down the most efficient way to build wealth.” And Bob Haegele of The Frugal Fellow raves about the author’s “simple investment strategy” that gives an investor “the best chance of setting him- or herself up for success.”

“Work Optional: Retire Early the Non-Penny Pinching Way” by Tanja Hester, about $12.
Financial coach Steven Donovan calls this “well-thought out” book “the best step by step guide to retire early.” (Hester is a MarketWatch contributor.)

“The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime” by MJ DeMarco, about $15.
Financial author Rachel Hope Richards says this is her “absolute favorite book for early retirement.” She adds: “He talks about the slow lane to retirement, and how working in a cubicle for 40 years and investing in mutual funds won’t get you there. And then he talks about the fast lane; becoming a producer instead of a consumer, building up a lucrative business quickly, and retiring early.”

“Early Retirement Extreme: A Philosophical and Practical Guide to Financial Independence” by Jacob Lund Fisker.
Moana Whipple, a financial Associate at Natural Bridges Financial Advisors, raves about this book: “For a world plagued by overconsumption, materialism, and greed, Fisker’s no-nonsense blueprint for getting out of the rat race is the perfect antidote,” she says.

“The Wealthy Barber” by David Chilton, about $10.
Leif Kristjansen, who retired in his 30s and blogs about it at the Five Year FIRE Escape, picks this book noting that it was “the very very beginning of my good relationship with money.” And while it isn’t an early retirement book per se, “really all that needs to be added to change this into an early retirement book is to be more aggressive. The author, Dave Chilton, recommends saving at least 10% of your income whereas most very early retirees save around 50% of their income.”

“The New Rules of Retirement” by Robert Carlson, about $10.
Certified Financial Planner Patricia Russell of Finance Marvel loves this book in part because the author thoroughly addresses how to handle some of the bigger risks to your retirement like health care.

“The 4 Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferris, about $14
Two experts put this as their one must-read book, with Stacy Caprio of Fiscal Nerd calling it “an incredible book for those looking to retire early to read. It walks you through the process of how you can set up your own business and then take yourself completely out of the process of running it while still having profit coming in.”

“The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Rich” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko, about $11
Two experts gave their votes to this book. Michael Outar of notes that “while this book is not directly about early retirement it lays the foundation of what financial independence means and how you can achieve it so you can retire early.” And certified financial planner Betty Wang says you “can’t beat” this book, adding that “it’s crucial, especially for those seeking to retire early, to understand how your spending habits have a direct result on your wealth.”

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