Best Accounting Books 

Best Accounting Books of All Time
For beginners and subject matter experts

By Tommy L.

Accounting is one of the key functions in business. No matter which businesses you are, commercial firm or government institute, you need to deal with it.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said in a speech in 2003, “You have to understand of accounting. It’s the language of business and you have to be comfortable of that.”

 

But there are so many accounting books with different level of difficulty, how to pick the suitable books to you?

In order to find best accounting books for different level of difficulty, I refer to four different sources on book rankings which are:

  • Goodreads (One of the largest social cateloging websites on book recommendations)

  • Book Depository (A UK-based online book seller provides best selling rankings)

  • WallStreetMojo (A site helps students and professionals to become awesome in financial analysis)

  • Book Authority (It chose the best accounting books featured in major media such as CNN, Forbes)

The 10 Best Accounting Books of All Time are:

  1. Accounting made simple by Mike Piper

  2. Warren Buffett accounting book by Preston Pysh and Stig Brodersen

  3. Accounting Game by Darrell Mullis and Judith Handler Orloff

  4. Financial statements by Thomas Ittelson

  5. Financial shenanigans by Howard Mark Schilit, Jeremy Perler and Yoni Engelhart

  6. How finance works by Mihir Desai

  7. Profit first by Mike Michalowicz

  8. Accounting by Greg Shields

  9. Accounting for dummies by John A. Tracy

  10. Intermediate accounting: IFRS Edition by Donald E. Kieso

 

You can find the details on how to find the books at the bottom.

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No. 1: Accounting Made Simple: Accounting explained in 100 pages or less

Beginner

Piper is a Licensed CPA in Missouri State, USA. His writing has been featured in many places such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Morningstar.

This book is top rated in all selected sources which is highly recommended for people looking for introduction to accounting.

The book explained in Plain-English with no technical jargon on the following:

  • The Accounting Equation and why it's so significant

  • How to read and prepare financial statements

  • How to calculate and interpret several different financial ratios

  • The concepts and assumptions behind Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)

  • Preparing journal entries with debits and credits

  • Cash method vs. accrual method

  • Inventory and Cost of Goods Sold

  • How to calculate depreciation and amortization expenses.

 

It is a very good book introducing accounting key concepts for beginners or those who have a non-financial background and will be worth your time to understand the basics and the building blocks.

No.2: Warren Buffett Accounting Book  

Intermediate

Warren Buffett is widely regarded as one of the most successful investors in modern world. CNBC reports Buffett principles in choosing companies lie in the concept of value investing.

This book focuses on principles derived from Buffett’s spoken and written words which you will learn how to:

  • Pick stocks like Warren Buffett

  • Calculate the intrinsic value of stocks using two methods

 

During the second half of the book, readers will learn in-depth methods for:

  • Read an income statement

  • Read a balance sheet

  • Read a cash flow statement

  • Calculate and interpret key ratios 

 

I appreciate the discussion around key ratios for each of the three accounting statements, and relative comparison examples to competitors. This is a great book for investors new and old.

No.3: Accounting Game: Basic accounting fresh from the lemonade stand

Beginner

It is another good accounting book for beginners, especially startup owner.

Using the world of a child's lemonade stand to teach the basics of managing your finances, this book makes a dry subject fun and understandable.

As you run your stand, you'll begin to understand and apply financial terms and concepts like assets, liabilities, earnings, inventory and notes payable, plus: 

  • Interactive format gives you hands-on experience

  • Color-coded charts and worksheets help you remember key terms

  • Step-by-step process takes you from novice to expert with ease

  • Fun story format speeds retention of essential concepts

  • Designed to apply what you learn to the real world

 

The revolutionary approach of The Accounting Game takes the difficult subjects of accounting and business finance and makes them something you can easily learn, understand, remember and use!

"The game approach makes the subject matter most understandable. I highly recommend it to anyone frightened by either numbers or accountants." --John Hernandis, Director of Corporate Communications, American Greetings

No.4: Financial Statements: A step-by-step guide to understanding and creating financial reports

Beginner

Ittelson, in his introduction, said he is naturally trained as a scientist (graduated from Harvard University in biochemistry). After graduation, he worked in various roles including technical writer and marketing.

 

The work experiences encouraged him to become a found, CEO and treasurer of a venture capital-backed high-tech company. He learned accounting and financial reporting skills on this job.

This book focuses on principles derived from Buffett’s spoken and written words which you will learn how to:

  • Pick stocks like Warren Buffett

  • Calculate the intrinsic value of stocks using two methods

 

During the second half of the book, readers will learn in-depth methods for:

  • Read an income statement

  • Read a balance sheet

  • Read a cash flow statement

  • Calculate and interpret key ratios 

 

I appreciate the discussion around key ratios for each of the three accounting statements, and relative comparison examples to competitors. This is a great book for investors new and old.

No.5: Financial Shenanigans: How to detect accounting gimmicks & fraud in financial reports

by Howard Mark Schilit, Jeremy Perler and Yoni Engelhard

Intermediate

Dr. Howard Schilit is an expert in forensics accounting and detecting tricks in financial reports. He has been a leading spokesman before the US Congress, regulators and global media about accounting tricks.

It is the bestselling classic from the "Sherlock Holmes of Accounting" and the latest edition of it shines a light on the most shocking frauds and financial reporting offenders of the last twenty-five years, and gives investors and accounting practitioner the tools they need to detect:

  • Corporate cultures that incentivize dishonest practices

  • The latest tricks companies use to exaggerate revenue and earnings

  • Techniques devised by management to manipulate cash flow as easily as earnings

  • Companies that use misleading metrics to fool investors about their financial performance

  • How companies use acquisitions to hide deterioration in their underlying business
     

Howard Schilit and his team of renowned forensic accounting experts expose financial reporting miscreants and unveil the latest methods companies use to mislead investors. You'll learn everything you need to know to unearth deceptive reporting and avoid costly mistakes. 

No.6: How finance works: The HBR guide to thinking smart about the numbers

Beginner

Professor Desai is an economist in Harvard University. His academic contributions are in corporate tax and international finance.

If you think this book is written to those accounting and finance profession, it is not true. Through entertaining case studies, interactive exercises, full-color visuals, and a conversational style that belies the topic, Professor Desai tackles a broad range of topics that will give you the knowledge and skills you need to finally understand how finance works.

These include: 

  • How different financial levers can affect a company's performance

  • The different ways in which companies fund their operations and investments

  • Why finance is more concerned with cash flow than profits

  • How value is created, measured, and maximized

  • The importance of capital markets in helping companies grow


Professor Desai guides you into the complex but endlessly fascinating world of finance, demystifying it in the process and some book review even says he translated complicated examples into Disney-style stories.

If you are looking for a book to familiarize yourself with financial concepts and lingo or learning how to evaluate a company before investing in it or are starting a job or already in a job that requires you to communicate with financial personnel this book is for you. 

No.7: Profit First

Intermediate

Michalowicz is an American author, businessman and lecturer.  He is a former columnist for the Wall Street Journal and contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine. He appeared in different global media TV programmes sharing his views on entrepreneurship, sales and marketing.

Michalowicz has developed a behavioral approach to accounting to flip the formula: Sales - Profit = Expenses. He shows that by taking profit first and apportioning only what remains for expenses, entrepreneurs will transform their businesses from cash-eating monsters to profitable cash cows.

Using Michalowicz's Profit First system, you will learn that:

- Following 4 simple principles can simplify accounting and make it easier to manage a profitable business by looking at bank account balances.
- A small, profitable business can be worth much more than a large business surviving on its top line.
- Businesses that attain early and sustained profitability have a better shot at achieving long-term growth.

 

It is a book recommended to business owners and entrepreneurs, as said by Jason Andrew, especially they struggle to understand basic cashflow, accounting and lack discipline in their spending habits.

No.8: Accounting

Beginner

This book is intended for people who want to know something about the fundamentals of financial accounting without becoming an accountant. Many people are in this position; small business owners, employers, employees, business owners, stockholders, investors, and many, many more.

This book discusses accounting fundamentals, the various areas where accounting professionals work and the information they produce.

 

Also, this book examines the measures and ratios that accountants use to analyze an organization's performance and the important relationship between time and money.

 

Here are just some of the topics that are discussed within this book: 

  • Accounting is Different From Bookkeeping

  • Understanding the Vocabulary

  • Accounting Reports: The Income Statement, The Balance Sheet, The Cash Flow Statement

  • The Accounting Equation

  • The CPA and Public Accounting

  • Jobs in Accounting

No.9: Accounting for Dummies

Beginner

John A. Tracy is an award-winning Professor of Accounting, Emeritus, at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  He wrote various accounting and finance books for beginners.

Written in plain English, it quickly gets you up to speed on how to manage inventory, report income and expenses for private or public companies, evaluate profit margins, analyze business strengths and weaknesses, manage budgets for a better bottom line, and so much more.

 

From tips for getting the most out of reading a financial report to ways to analyze and manage profit and everything in between it gives you the jargon-free introduction to accounting you need to make sense of those numbers.

  • Get the scoop on accounting basics and standards

  • Read and understand financial statements with ease

  • Report income and expenses for public or private sectors

  • Create great financials and boost your bottom line

 

This Accounting For Dummies helps you speak your accountant's language with ease minimizing confusion as you maximize profits.

No.10: Intermediate Accounting: IFRS Edition

Intermediate

Kieso serves as the KPMG Emeritus Professor of Accountancy at Northern Illinois University. He is also a Certified Public Accountant and a self-employed author of accounting and business textbooks.

This book provides the tools global accounting students need to understand IFRS and how it is applied in practice.

The emphasis on fair value, the proper accounting for financial instruments, and the new developments related to leasing, revenue recognition, and financial statement presentation are examined in light of current practice.

 

Global Accounting Insights highlight the important differences that remain between IFRS and U.S. GAAP, and discuss the ongoing joint convergence efforts to resolve them.

 

Comprehensive, up-to-date, and accurate, Intermediate Accounting: IFRS Edition includes proven pedagogical tools, designed to help students learn more effectively and to answer the changing needs of this course. 

Conclusion

The 10 Best Accounting Books of All Time are very influential on introducing accounting concepts and knowledge to the general public. 

If you are looking for accounting books for beginners, no matter for career or investment, Accounting Made Simple by Mike Piper, Accounting Game by Darrell Mullis, Financial Statements by Thomas Ittelson, How Finance Works by Mihir Desai and Profit First by Mike Michalowicz are good to start learning.

 

If your purpose to learn accounting is to improve your security selection in investment, Warren Buffett Accounting Book by Preston Pysh and Financial Shenanigans by Howard Mark Schilit are highly recommended.

Methodology of choosing Best Accounting Books of All Time

From the four chosen sources, I look for “Best accounting books of all time” or “Popular accounting books” in their websites. They rank the books with their different criteria, such as readers rating, number of books sold, or professional journalists rating.

Next, I take a simple weighted average rankings for each book to find 10 best accounting books of all time. 

 

For Example, the book “Accounting made simple” rankings in each source are, 3 (Goodreads), 6 (Book Depository), 1 (WallStreetMojo) and 4 (Bookauthority). The weighted average ranking is 3.5 and it is the score in my list.

If the score is the lowest, it is the highest ranked book in my Best Accounting Book of All Time.

Following this rationale, I find the top 10 books which I just shared to you in above.

The search was done on 23 July 2019.

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Note: Some of the links in this page contain affiliate links. I will earn a small commission for any purchases you make, though there is no extra cost to you. 

The products or services I recommend only I use them myself or after my investigation and truly believe they are useful to you. Don’t forget there are many other options out there – these are simply my preferred choices.