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Whether you’re a solo business owner, a budding bookkeeper, or a seasoned CPA, having the right accounting books can help ensure that your finances are on point. Financial literacy is important and sharp accounting skills are crucial if you want to succeed in business. From tax planning to making the right decisions based on accurate financial information, solid accounting knowledge is key.
With so many accounting books out there – many of them of the standard textbook variety – we found the best ones that are both practical and readable.
Best Overall: Accounting All-in-One for Dummies
If you’re brand new to accounting or just need a refresher course, consider this the most comprehensive, reader-friendly guide. In the usual “Dummies” style, this book covers the basics in laymen’s terms to provide solid accounting knowledge. It’s thorough yet accessible and is technically nine “mini-books” in one.
Author Kenneth W. Boyd will teach you everything from how to set up your accounting system to working with balance sheets and income statements. There are also more advanced sections on making financial business decisions and detecting fraud, as well as other accounting niches. Newbies and pros alike will find value in this book, whether it’s used as a training manual or a handy reference.
As a bonus, you’ll also get access to online quizzes that correspond to each book section to make sure your newly-developed skills are sinking in.
Best for Small Business Owners: Accounting for the Numberphobic
Endless numbers in spreadsheets can be scary to look at, especially when you don’t know what you’re looking at. Enter “Accounting for the Numberphobic: A Survival Guide for Small Business Owners” by Dawn Fotopulos—it’s for people who try to avoid accounting at all costs, and need some working knowledge to get by.
It covers the most important aspects of accounting that relate to your business including how to understand a net income statement, cash flow statement, and balance sheet. More importantly, it helps you answer those key questions like what your business is worth or how much revenue you need to be profitable.
Best About Taxes: Tax Savvy for Small Business
If there’s one major aspect of running a business that’s important to understand, it’s tax accounting. In “Tax Savvy for Small Business,” the author, Frederick W. Daily, brings with him 35 years of experience as a tax attorney. He shares what he knows to be true—that a smart and savvy tax planning strategy can help protect and add to your bottom line.
This guide covers all of the essential business tax accounting topics, including how to figure out if you’re eligible for tax credits and how to maximize them, which expenses and long-term assets you can write off, and how to maintain pristine financial records. And though the last thing you want is an audit, this book covers how to deal with one. This new version also covers all of the newest tax laws, so you’ll be up to date.
Read Next: The Best Tax Preparation Books
Best for Entrepreneurs: Profit First
Part accounting book, part business strategy, “Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine” teaches entrepreneurs how to make profits a priority. With a different accounting perspective (one that’s against the generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP), and a breakdown of four key accounting principles, readers will learn how to simplify their bookkeeping and focus on paying themselves first.
The concept is similar to what money experts often recommend when it comes to saving money—take some money directly from your income, instead of taking from what is leftover. In addition to his unique accounting and budgeting hacks, author Mike Michalowicz’s down-to-earth language makes this a great read. As a serial entrepreneur, Michalowicz also shares lots of case studies to help illustrate his theories in practice.
Best for Accountants: Accounting Best Practices
Having the right data is key for businesses to optimize their operations and boost their profits. To understand accurate accounting, this comprehensive guide from financial expert Steven Bragg reads almost like a troubleshooting manual, offering solutions, tips, and refinements for common accounting challenges. It’s certainly not for beginners, as most of the techniques are advanced and assume a working knowledge of accounting. But for those working in the field, “Accounting Best Practices” is a good resource to have on hand for cutting expenses, creating efficiencies, and improving accuracy in your accounting.
The latest sixth edition includes 90 new best practices and two extra chapters on credit and collections.
Best for Beginners: The Accounting Game
Everyone might not be an accounting whiz, but most people are probably familiar with running a lemonade stand. That’s the premise of this simple but genius accounting book, “The Accounting Game: Basic Accounting Fresh from the Lemonade Stand” by Darrell Mullis and Judith Orloff. Using the example of the famous childhood business venture, the authors teach the basics of accounting to anyone who needs a simple, but “sticky” explanation.
It breaks down complex accounting terms and concepts into relatable language and step-by-step illustrations in just 179 pages. Each section ends with quizzes and worksheets with sample spreadsheets to help readers master each topic. All in all, this book is a good find for accounting students as well as anyone looking to understand their own finances.
Best for Investors: Warren Buffett Accounting Book
Since Warren Buffett is known for his investing skills, the “Warren Buffett Accounting Book: Reading Financial Statements for Value Investing” by co-authors Stig Brodersen and Preston George Pysh hones in on accounting concepts to know from the successful investor himself. The second volume of a three-book series, it features strategies aimed to help you pick winning stocks.
Most importantly, the book teaches you how to calculate the value of a company using two different methods. Even more, aspiring investors will learn how to read an income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement—all essential when deciding which organizations are a good fit for your portfolio.
Read Next: The Best Investing Books
Best for Intermediates: Barron's Accounting Handbook
Sometimes you just need a classic accounting reference book. Written by four accounting experts, the “Barron’s Accounting Handbook” does what Barron’s books do best—it covers everything that financial professionals need to know about financial reporting requirements and compliance. It covers both U.S. GAAP and IRFS (International Financial Reporting Standards).
The book clocks in at over 1,000 pages, including a dictionary of accounting terms, so it’s not exactly light reading. But for advanced accounting students, it’s a worthy addition to your bookshelf.
Best for Self-Employed: Accounting Made Simple
For a quick read on DIY accounting, “Accounting Made Simple: Accounting Explained in 100 Pages or Less” can be digested in an afternoon or two. Its author Mike Piper is a licensed CPA, who strives to help solo practitioners learn the ropes of accounting.
The book breaks down everything from understanding and creating financial statements to the difference between the cash method and the accrual method. It also touches on other big financial concepts like depreciation, amortization, and more in a way that a novice can understand. Best of all, Piper includes helpful examples to bring these concepts to life.