An Intro to the Best Accounting Books for Beginners
Let’s face it- Accounting is not sexy! But we cannot live without it. While there are many accounting textbooks available to you, you might find them extremely daunting especially if you know jack squat about this subject. So, to get you excited about accounting, we went ahead to recommend some of the best accounting books for beginners. We’ve accompanied them with authentic reviews from popular forums like Reddit and Quora.
Let’s dig in!
This beginner-friendly book explains the concepts in a simplistic way without technical jargon. It is one of the best accounting books for beginners to learn about the following:
- The Accounting Equation and Why It Is Important
- Financial Statement Reading and Preparation
- How to calculate and interpret various financial ratios
- Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) concepts and assumptions
- Creating journal entries that include debits and credits
- The cash method vs. the accrual method
- Inventory and Cost of Goods Sold
- How to calculate Depreciation and Amortization Expenses
Reddit Reviews of Accounting Made Simple
If you are not well versed at all in accounting (like I was and still am, however I’ve been studying in my spare time), I highly suggest you read this book: Accounting Made Simple. The author explains the accounting concept and doing things like a book keeper would do very simply, and straight to the point.
Hey! What’s the main topic you’re looking to learn about? If you want to know strictly personal finance, I would check out a beginners book on accounting. This will provide you with the knowledge to balance all your books and plan your taxes. I’d recommend this book: Accounting Made Simple If you want to learn about something more specific though just let me know!
Ignore the peanut gallery – if you’re reasonably smart and willing to put in a little effort, you can learn enough accounting to handle it yourself in a few weeks. I did, and a year later I met with an accountant just to go over what I had done. It took him only a few minutes to say “you’ve obviously got this – no need to pay me.”
Double entry accounting isn’t immediately obvious, but it’s not that complicated either. Everything you need to know is in this book: Accounting Made Simple
EDIT: I’m just talking about accounting here. There’s other legal paperwork you’ll need to handle too (board meeting minutes, Bylaws, etc). Also not hard to handle on your own, but for that stuff, this is the book you want: The Corporate Records Handbook
Quora Reviews of Accounting Made Simple
Let’s Assume You Know Nothing About Accounting
By all means, get Accounting Made Simple by Mike Piper. The nearly 400 reviews with an average of 4.4 stars show it’s no fluke.
And there’s nothing embarrassing about getting The Accounting Game by Darrell Mullis. The CEO of a $50 million business and growing has this on his bookshelf. It’s not bad.
You will need this book (Accounting Made Simple by Mike Piper) to make the first baby step in accounting.
This is crucial as it will give you the basic understanding of accounting without in-depth details and heavy terminologies.
This accounting book written by piper goes straight to the point with simple and practical examples that simplify basic concepts without the unnecessary jargon and technicalities.
Topics in this book include; the accounting equation, preparing and reading financial statements, Calculation, and interpretation of financial ratios and the general concept of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).
Okay! So you want to learn accounting but you do not want to go to school. Accounting can be easy if you will really devote your time in studying it.
School is really the best place to learn accounting but there are still ways on how to study this especially for non-accounting graduates.
- You can browse the internet for particular topics in the accounting industry. There are lots of accounting site there who discusses accounting starting from analyzing financial transactions up to the Preparation of Financial Statements.
- You can also read books that explain the basics of accounting. There are so many books on amazon that you can use. One I can recommend is the book written by Mike Piper entitled Accounting Made Simple: Accounting Explained in 100 Pages or Less . This book is the best for those starting to learn accounting. But of course, it will cost you a small amount.
I hope it helps.
2. Overall Best Accounting Book for Beginners: The Accounting Game: Basic Accounting Fresh from the Lemonade Stand
Accounting can be a daunting profession. Whether you’re a manager, a business owner, an aspiring entrepreneur, or taking a college accounting course, you’ll find yourself needing to know the fundamentals…but confused by complicated accounting books. What if learning accounting was as easy and enjoyable as running a kid’s lemonade stand? It is possible.
The Accounting Game ranks highest among the best accounting books for beginners. It presents financial information in a format so different from a typical accounting textbook that you may forget you’re learning skills that will help you get ahead! This book makes a dry subject fun and understandable by using the world of a child’s lemonade stand to teach the basics of financial management.
As you run your stand, you’ll learn and apply financial terms and concepts such as assets, liabilities, earnings, inventory, and notes payable. You will also enjoy the following:
- The interactive format allows you to gain hands-on experience.
- Color-coded charts and worksheets aid in the retention of key terms.
- With ease, the step-by-step process takes you from novice to expert.
- The use of a fun story format aids in the retention of important concepts
- Designed to help you apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to the real world.
The Accounting Game’s revolutionary approach transforms the difficult subjects of accounting and business finance into something you can easily learn, understand, remember, and apply!
Reddit Reviews of The Accounting Game
This is similar to what I asked before. I took Principles of Accounting I and II (financial and managerial) last summer but I focused on passing the basic accounting classes instead of studying them. One tip that might help out is getting a book that can help you learn and understand the concepts of accounting- The Accounting Game. It looks silly, but I heard it’s good. It’s available on Amazon.
Good luck on your field in accounting!
Check out the book The Accounting Game (Amazon affiliate link). It’s really simple, keeps your interest, and has good practice worksheets. I was someone who hated accounting/finance in college. After reading that book I had a new appreciation for it and a much better understanding of business as a whole.
Also, check out this video on youtube. It’s a top hedgefund investor (Bill Ackman) who explains accounting/finance in basic terms in under an hour.
Quora Reviews of The Accounting Game
Depends on what you mean by “introductory” (accounting books).
It is basically teaching you accounting while running a simple lemonade stand.
I’ve recommended this to many an MBA student who found it useful.
I’m focusing on the word ‘easy’ (best and easiest books about financial accounting) in your question.
CPAs suffer from the curse of knowledge. When we find/see basic accounting training, we probably think very little of it. At least that describes me. However, three quick and simple reads come to mind.
If you want easy, then look at The Accounting Game by Darrell Mullis.
I would then follow up with Mike Piper’s excellent book, Accounting Made Simple: Accounting Explained in 100 Pages or Less.
Then, you should be ready for Financial Statements by Thomas Ittelson which is more hands-on in how and where the numbers flow.
3. Best Introductory Book on Financial Statement Analysis: Financial Statements
Ittelson specializes in making complex financial topics understandable to non-financial audiences. In this book, he empowers you by demonstrating how the three major accounting statements interact to provide a snapshot of a company’s financial health in a clear and simple manner.
This book teaches you how to use specialized accounting terminology and makes the structure and purpose of the three major numeric statements that describe a company’s financial condition accessible. Each statement paints a unique and important picture, forming the “three-legged stool” of corporate reporting:
- The income statement illustrates the company’s manufacturing (or service offerings) and selling activities that result in profit or loss over a given time period. It provides a critical perspective on the company’s performance and profitability.
- The cash flow statement shows how much money comes in and goes out of the company over a given time period. To make money, you must first have money. It’s bad to run out of money. Duh!
- The balance sheet records what the company owns and what it owes at the end of a period, or an instant in time, including the owners’ stake, known as shareholders’ equity
No accounting background is required.
Reddit Reviews of Financial Statements by Thomas Ittelson
I used the Ittelson book, it’s pretty good. Would also recommend How to Read a Financial Report by John Tracey and What’s Behind the Numbers by Del Veccio. But really the best method is to just get the basic accounting down pat and know what to look for (i.e. high ROC, turnover, working capital and capex needs, quality of cashflows) after looking at a bunch of them yourself
Depends on how big you want it to be…. If you don’t know jack squat about accounting principles or financial statements, this book is a good start. it has a manufacturing walkthrough (something in a jar.. don’t exactly recall). Financial statements are the hard part of a business plan IMO.
I was hoping you’d know! I say we start with the very basics, we can model our course off of what would normally be covered in a financial accounting I class. 2 books were recommended to me.
The first is Financial Statements which gives a nice overview of the 4 financial statements including a brief description of what each line means.
The second was The Accounting Game
I personally learn better from a systematic approach like what is used in “Financial Statements” but I suspect a better approach for reddit would be something like “The Accounting Game.” I anticipate that most of our students would be entrepreneurs or other users of accounting information rather than hopeful accountants. In that vein we could go through the process of starting a small business and show how the basic transactions would be recorded. Including how to set up spreadsheets as was ops original request.
Quora Reviews of Financial Statements by Thomas Ittelson
To understand financial statements, one should have a good understanding of language ie accounting. You can do that by starting to read some very basic accounting books (say by Haber, another one is by Ittelson.
These two are very easy-going and fun to read books for starters especially engineers. You may start with Ittelson and use haber as a ref book for clearing doubts in ittelson. I forgot the exact names of the books.
You should start loving accounting and it should become a habit ie start thinking in terms of credit/debit. For that, a sound basis in accounting is needed and books being referred should not be a turn-off or boring.
That is why I suggested the above 2 books. They both are written in a very easy-to-understand manner and to the point and Ittelson will arouse your interest in the whole topic. Good luck!
To understand how to read financial statements you need something somewhat more specialized than an intro accounting book.
The “Dummies” series has a book titled “Reading Financial Reports for Dummies“.
If you’re a complete novice then this would be a good book to dip your toe into the water- Financial Statements: A Step-by-Step Guide to Understanding and Creating Financial Reports, by Thomas Ittelson.
After that, it’s more likely interest will guide you towards different books focusing on different aspects of analyzing financial statements.
4. Best Accounting for Dummies Book: Accounting All-in-One For Dummies with Online Practice
Accounting All-in-One For Dummies is another good accounting book for beginners. It contains content culled from several previously published books, so you’ll get the best of the best. It will assist you in excelling in whatever niche you wish to conquer in the wonderful world of accounting. You’ll also have free online access to a quiz for each section of the book.
You will be able to:
- Read a financial statement report
- Conduct an audit and detect fraud
- Make wise business decisions.
- Manage money and make purchasing decisions
This book covers it all, whether you’re a student studying the application of accounting theories or a professional looking for a valuable reference you can rely on.
Quora Reviews of Accounting All-in-One For Dummies
Few of the popular accounting books (best book for learning accounting) that you tend to hear are:
- Accounting made Simple: By Mike Piper.
- Accounting Game: Basic Accounting Fresh from the Lemonade stand.
- Accounting All-in-one for Dummies.
- Accounting in a nutshell: Accounting for non specialists.
5. Best Book about Accounting Fraud: Financial Shenanigans
This fourth edition illuminates the most shocking frauds and financial reporting offenders of the last twenty-five years, and provides you with the tools you need to detect:
- Corporate cultures that encourage dishonest behavior
- The latest deceptions used by businesses to inflate revenue and earnings
- Management techniques for manipulating cash flow as easily as earnings
- Companies that use deceptive metrics to deceive investors about their financial performance
- How companies use acquisitions to conceal deterioration in their core business.
This new edition focuses on the most important case studies and lessons learned over the last quarter-century, bringing you up to date on accounting trickery in global markets.
Howard Schilit and his team of renowned forensic accounting experts expose financial reporting fraudsters and reveal the most recent methods companies use to deceive investors. You’ll learn everything you need to know about detecting deceptive reporting and avoiding costly mistakes.
Reddit Reviews of Financial Shenanigans by Howard Schilit
Financial Shenanigans by Howard Schilt. We read this one in a college Financial Statement Fraud class. It read much more like a beach read than any other academic accounting book I ever came across.
A lot of good examples and real stories of financial statement fraud across a range of areas. It really helped me to grasp a bunch of accounting concepts before venturing out into the working world, by making the topics interesting, and showing the real-world power of accounting (for better or worse).
I see somebody beat me to it.
Best accounting book I’ve read in my entire career. #1 recommended.
Like the traditional 3 statements, don’t just take them at face value. Dig one level deeper and see what they’re actually trying to say at the business level. There’s tons of insight to be gained from pro forma, whether you believe them or not is another question.
Also, read the Financial Shenanigans book by Howard Schilt if you want to know how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Highly recommend it.
If you liked this, definitely buy the book Financial Shenanigans. It will exhibit some accounting schemes that will make you a better investor if you can recognize them
Quora Reviews of Financial Shenanigans by Howard Schilit
What is a good book to learn about how to read and understand financial statements on an expert level? Financial Shenanigans by Howard Schilit
Accounting for Non-Accountants is ideal for anyone who has never taken an accounting class and has no idea what a balance sheet, income statement, or statement of cash flow is.
Dr. Wayne Label covers it all in an easy-to-understand and apply style. This guide will assist you in getting your accounting system up and running and your business needs met.
Among the topics covered are:
- Income Statements
- Cash Flow Statements
- Balance Sheets
- Assets & Liabilities
- Double-Entry Bookkeeping
- Debits & Credits
- Audits & Auditors
- And everything else newcomers need to know
This book is a must-have for any entrepreneur or anyone who needs to brush up on their accounting skills quickly- definitely one of the best accounting books for beginners.
Reddit Reviews of Accounting for Non-Accountants
7. Financial Intelligence Book: Financial Intelligence: A Manager’s Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean
Since its initial release in 2006, Financial Intelligence has become a favorite among managers in need of a guided tour through the numbers, assisting them in understanding not only what the numbers really mean, but also why they matter.
This completely revised edition brings the numbers up to date while continuing to teach the fundamentals of finance to managers who need to use financial data to drive their business.
It also addresses issues that have become increasingly important in recent years, such as those related to the financial crisis and broader financial and accounting literacy.
Reddit Reviews of Financial Intelligence
I’d recommend also getting a basic understanding of accounting and Time Value of Money principles. Financial Intelligence will help with accounting. You can learn about Time Value of Money by watching youtube and experimenting with financial calculators (also available online).
Quora Reviews of Financial Intelligence
My absolute favorite is Financial Intelligence: A Manager’s Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean by Karen Berman and Joe Knight, founders of the Business Literacy Institute (http://www.business-literacy.com)
I found the book so helpful that I hired Joe Knight for a full day of one-on-one coaching, and I have given the book as a gift to over ten people. It is quite simply the best book for non-finance people to learn the basics of financial statements.
This question should be reframed as “good finance books for leadership”–not just CEOs. Financial Intelligence: A Manager’s Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean deserves a mention here.
This book runs you through the foundational concepts (P&L, balance sheet, depreciation, revenue recognition, etc.) so that you can become fluent in the language of business finance…
Read the book Financial Intelligence.
It’s a quick read, written by 2 accountants but targeted at managers, so everything is explained in simple terms without too much detail, and will provide you with a solid basic understanding of how to interpret different financial documents (income statement, balance sheet, etc) and see how stuff fits together. Understanding a company’s financials is part of the bedrock of smart investing.
Also, not sure how you plan to use your medical degree, but if you ever go into private practice you’ll be running your own business and need to be able to read financial docs.
I’d consider reading this book to be part of a 101 class in your financial/entrepreneurial education.
Do it, you won’t regret it!
8. Accounting QuickStart Guide: The Simplified Beginner’s Guide to Financial & Managerial Accounting For Students, Business Owners and Finance Professionals
This groundbreaking book expertly simplifies accounting fundamentals and is an invaluable resource for accounting students, business owners, bookkeepers, and other finance and record-keeping professionals all over the world!
This book will be invaluable on your journey, whether you are a business owner looking to improve your bottom line or an accounting student looking to improve your grade.
Why is this book so popular among accounting students, business owners, and finance professionals? The Accounting QuickStart Guide debunks the myth that accounting is dry, dense, and difficult to learn.
It is one of the best accounting books for beginners to learn accounting’s core principles through entertaining stories and examples, as well as clarifying illustrations and practice problems—all of which work together to provide you with a path to fast and effective mastery of the material.
For business owners, you will learn how to manage your cash flow, audit-proof your enterprise, and increase your profits. In an easy-to-read, informative format, the Accounting QuickStart Guide will teach you the key insights to boost your bottom line.
For accounting students, you will learn the fundamental principles of both financial and managerial accounting in a fun and informative format that you won’t find in a textbook.
Through practical, real-world examples, learn about core accounting concepts such as the fundamental accounting equation, financial statements, managerial accounting, and more. Use the Accounting QuickStart Guide to supplement existing high school, undergraduate, or graduate course material.
- Classic Double-Entry Accounting’s Logic and Methods!
- Business Entity Types: Benefits, Drawbacks, and Financial Statements!
- Financial Accounting Principles, Managerial Accounting Principles, and Tax Accounting Principles!
- The Importance of GAAP Standards for Accountants!
- How to Fraud-Proof Your Company Using Simple Accounting Techniques!
NB: We couldn’t find any reviews of this guide on Reddit or Quora. But there are plenty of great reviews on Amazon here.
9. Best Book on Financial Statement Analysis: Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements
Buffett and Clark clearly outline Warren Buffett’s strategies in a way that both beginners and seasoned pros will find appealing.
Inspired by Buffett’s mentor, Benjamin Graham’s seminal work (The Interpretation of Financial Statements, 1937), this book presents Buffett’s interpretation of financial statements through anecdotes and quotes from the master investor himself.
You will learn:
- Buffett’s tried-and-tested guidelines for interpreting an income statement and balance sheet.
- How high R&D costs can put a great company out of business
- How much debt Buffett believes a company can bear before it becomes too risky to touch.
- The financial ratios and calculations used by Buffett to identify companies with a sustainable competitive advantage, which he believes makes for a winning long-term investment.
- How Buffett uses financial statements to determine a company’s worth.
- What types of companies Warren avoids, regardless of how low their selling price is
We consider it one of the best books on accounting for beginners simply because it teaches you to read financial statements- a key step in understanding accounting.
Reddit Reviews of Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements
For finance, I would suggest you learn how to read financial statements. There is a good book called “Warren Buffet and the Interpretation of Financial Statements“. The book has nothing to do with Warren Buffet.
1) Something that helped me is the book ‘Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements: The Search for the Company with a Durable Competitive Advantage’. It helped me in 3 ways:
i) It helped me understand financial statements better
ii) It helped me know which parts were more vs less helpful to focus on
iii) I used it as a foundation for setting up a personal spreadsheet system to analyze and value companies
Quora Reviews of Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements
Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements: The Search for the Company with a Durable Competitive Advantage, by Mary Buffett. I love this little book. There’s no jargon. It’s really a Khan Academy-like explanation (vs. description) of all the elements on financial statements—should be a good foundational starting point.
After this read, then you can start finding other books to build upon this one.
I personally recommended Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statement written by Mary Buffett and David Clark, in response to the question “What are good books for learning about the analysis of financial statements?”
Conclusion- Best Accounting Books for Beginners
We hope that you’ve found a great beginner-friendly accounting book from this list. If you feel you need something advanced, be sure to check advanced accounting books here.