-- The timing could not have been better for Tom Butler-Bowdon's 50 Prosperity Classics: Attract It, Create It, Manage It, Share It.
It is not a handbook on how to get rich quick. As the author explains in the introduction, "Wealth is about money but prosperity is about life, taking in the wider areas of good fortune, abundance, and well-being."
Butler-Bowdon applies the winning approach used in the earlier books in his 50 Classics series on self-help, success, psychology and spirituality. He presents the heart and soul of a book in about six pages each, drilling down to the main points.
He subdivides into categories of attracting wealth and abundance, wealth creation, managing money and sharing your wealth:
•Attract it. The runaway success of Rhonda Byrne's The Secret demonstrates that readers remain hungry for ideas on how to gain more wealth and live better lives. Butler-Bowdon writes that it is valuable for putting the spotlight on the "law of attraction," what the book's title refers to. He describes it as "whatever you think about or put your attention on becomes reality in your life."
•Create it. There are accounts of entrepreneurs who created wealth for not only themselves, but also for other stakeholders. There is no one path to entrepreneurial success and wealth, and obstacles often have to be overcome:
Howard Schultz (Pour Your Heart Into It) describes how Starbucks was transformed into a ubiquitous chain of cafes from the small Seattle coffee retailer he bought from its original owners, his onetime employers.
Richard Branson (Losing My Virginity) built the sprawling Virgin music-to-airlines business empire after struggling through school as a dyslexic student.
The late Anita Roddick (Business as Unusual) built The Body Shop chain by starting with one small store in Brighton, England, in 1976.
•Manage it. Several of the 13 books in this category, especially Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin's Your Money Or Your Life, emphasize the thinking behind getting, keeping and growing your money. Know what's important to you and your family, live within your means and keep control of your finances, whether you currently have a little money or a lot.
John Bogle, the founder of the Vanguard 500-stock index fund, asserts in The Little Book of Common Sense Investing to keep it simple by putting your money in low-cost index funds rather than individual stocks: "Don't look for the needle — buy the haystack."
•Share it. Andrew Carnegie (The Gospel of Wealth), a Scottish immigrant who built a large fortune in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, set a remarkable example of philanthropy by endowing public libraries and a foundation. His spirit of giving lives on in the recent example of Microsoft's Bill Gates and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Butler-Bowdon is so good at distilling the essence of these books that you may feel you don't have to read them. But his infectious enthusiasm makes a good case that reading one or more books in each category can help any reader — no matter your current financial circumstances — become worthy of wealth.