Retirement Transition Reading


The following books are some that I have found particularly helpful in my own transition to retirement. These are not books about planning financially for retirement, but about the experience of retirement.

Lee Eisenberg, The Number: A Completely Different Way to Think About the Rest of Your Life (Free Press, 2006)

  • This was one of the first books I read when I started to think concretely about retirement. I picked it up on impulse in a bookstore and was drawn to it (as I suspect many readers were) by the title, which suggested that it could help me figure out “the number” I would need to save in order to retire. As the subtitle promises, however, this book is not really about financial planning and figuring out “the number.” Eisenberg argues instead that the first priority in retirement planning should be figuring out how you want to live in retirement; figuring out how much you need to live on will follow from that.


Robert S. Weiss, The Experience of Retirement (ILR Press, 2005)

  • This is my favorite book about the transition to retirement. Weiss, a sociologist, did in-depth interviews with 89 men and women from the Boston metropolitan area about their transitions to retirement. Most were interviewed once before they retired and at least twice after retirement. Weiss’s findings look at how retirees spend their time and the (sometimes unexpected) joys and problems of retirement. One important theme is the problem of social isolation often experienced by those whose social life was primarily work-based.


Carl H. Klaus, Taking Retirement: A Beginner’s Diary (Beacon Press, 1999)

  • This is one man’s very personal account, in the form of a diary, of his transition into retirement. The almost-daily diary entries span a 7-month period beginning 3 months before Klaus’s retirement from his faculty position as a Professor of English at University of Iowa. They track his doubts and delights as he moves into retirement and his journey of discovery of what it means to him to be a retired person.


Mary Lloyd, Supercharged Retirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love (Hankfritz Press, 2009)

  • In this book, Lloyd argues that the transition to retirement involves figuring out what you want more of in your life, what you want less of in your life, and how to make that happen. Answering these questions depends, in turn, on getting in touch with who you are at this point in your life. At the heart of this book are workbook exercises that Lloyd has developed to help readers answer these questions. Very helpful for both recent retirees and those who are contemplating retirement.


Rob Pascale, Louis H. Primavera, and Rip Roach, The Retirement Maze: What You Should Know Before and After You Retire (Rowman and Littlefield, 2012)

  • The authors of this book combine social science research, theory, and their own experiences to consider the non-financial aspects of retirement, particularly the effects of retirement on psychological well-being. The book considers aspects of retirement that influence well-being, identifies barriers to a happy retirement, and provides practical advice about how to avoid or address problems in adjustment to retirement. The chapter on early retirement should be required reading for those considering early retirement, but there is something of value here for anyone planning for, transitioning into, or adjusting to retirement.

4 thoughts on “Retirement Transition Reading

  1. Penelope says:

    I also liked The Joy of to Working by Ernie Zelinski. It has been useful this long winter when I have been “sick and tired” after surgeries, etc. Thanks for the name of books, I haven’t yet had the energy you have to do projects!

  2. Penelope says:

    Oops…recommend the Joy of Not Working.

  3. paulkfox says:

    This site is GREAT! I plan to cite it in future blogs.

    FYI, I have a recommended reading list for formerly employed music teachers, but suitable for all. I mention “How to RETIRE Happy, Wild, and Free” by Ernie Zelinski and others at In this blog, I share the link to “the ultimate retiree resource guide rev 071416.”

    For more articles on retirement transitioning, click on PKF

  4. Jean says:

    Penelope and Paul, Both of you have recommended Ernie Zelinski. I have How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free on my shelf, but haven’t read it. Time to move it to my must-read list!

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I am Jean Potuchek, a professional sociologist who has just stepped into the next phase of my life, retirement, after more than thirty years of college teaching. This blog is about my experience of that new phase of life.

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