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Want to Work During Retirement? 9 Books to Read Now

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A friend of mine called me the other day in a bit of a panic. She had just learned that her company is the target of a merger and it appears likely that she will be out of a job by year end.

Fortunately, she was planning to retire three years from now, but this news means she’ll be out of a job sooner than planned. She is in the enviable position of not having to work if she doesn’t want to, but still, she’d like to do something fulfilling, at least part of the time.

“Nancy,” she asked, ” What books should I start reading to help me figure out what I should do during retirement?”

So in response to her request I put together a list of nine books and decided to share them with you as well. Whether you plan to work for pay, or just want ideas for ways to fill your time, I think you’ll find this list quite useful in your planning process.

Enjoy, and if you find this helpful, please feel free to share this link with friends.

Inspirational Second-Act Stories

I’ve long maintained that one of the best ways to get started on your second-act journey is to get inspired by what other second-acters are doing. The books in this section, while generally a bit light on the “how-to” are sure to motivate and entertain.

What Should I Do With The Rest of My Life? True Stories of Finding Success, Passion, and New Meaning in the Second Half of Life by Bruce Frankel. This book features stories of ordinary “late bloomers” who go on to achieve extraordinary things in their later years. Frankel profiles people in a wide variety of situations, including athletes, inventors, filmmakers and artists.

Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life by Jane Pauley. In her book, Pauley writes about many of the fascinating people she’s featured on her Today/ AARP Life Reimagined segments — including an executive who traded her high-paying career for a knitting business, an IT honcho turned pizza shop owner and a couple who started a cooking school in Italy. She also discusses her own route to reinvention.

Reinvention “How-To”

Don’t Retire, Rewire! by Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners Although this book came out a number of years ago, the advice and process offered are still relevant. An excellent step-by-step guide for people who are interested in creating a meaningful retirement.

It’s Only Too Late if You Don’t Start Now: How to Create Your Second Life at Any Age by Barbara Sher. I love everything Sher writes and this book is no exception. Her other books, Live the Life You Love and Wishcraft are equally wonderful.

Life Reimagined: Discovering Your New Life Possibilities by Richard J. Leider. A fun and quick read, Life Reimagined contains a nice balance of inspirational reinvention stories and how-to tips, along with Leider’s advice on the best ways to identify your unique gifts, explore new directions and create a meaningful second (or third) act.

Making a Living Without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work That You Love by Barbara Winters. An invaluable guide to how you can make a living by working when, where, and how you want.

Books that Blend Advice and Stories

The Encore Career Handbook by Marci Alboher. If you’re interested in using your second act to help make the world a better place, this book is for you. Alboher provides lots of great resources, along with a wonderful blend of inspiration and pragmatic advice.

Second-Act Careers by Nancy Collamer. At the risk of being self-indulgent, I couldn’t resist including my own book in this list. To quote one of the many complimentary reviewers on Amazon ( and thank you to everyone who has posted a review – I am so appreciative!!) “It’s impossible to read this book without smiling. Nancy Collamer has done the Boomer Generation a great service by identifying people who have reinvented themselves with flair and style… and showing that reinvention is possible. This book should be on every career changer must read list.”

What’s Next? Updated: Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties and Beyond by Kerry Hannon. One of my favorite writers about retirement (and my fellow columnist on Hannon recently updated this book. Hannon provides a delightful balance of practical advice, tips and resources, along with enjoyable second-act stories.

And for more recommendations of great resources, be sure to check my list of 100 Great Second-Act Career Resources which includes a number of other very helpful reads.

Get my Free Downloadable Workbook:

25 Questions To Help YOU Identify Your Ideal Second Act. You'll also receive my free newsletter filled with second-act ideas, tools and inspiration.

Get it Now!