John Ruskin, a British art critic and author, said this about books: "All books are divisible into two classes: the books of the hour, and the books of all time."
I think there is a third class of books: books that inform for a lifetime. I have come to realize that prosperity happens on purpose - read the right financial book and it can change your life.
So as you are out shopping for the holidays, think about choosing a gift that has a long-term value. In fact, this year my favorite financial gifts are books.
If there is a money worrier in your life, get him or her Olivia Mellan's "Money Harmony: Resolving Money Conflicts in Your Life and Relationships." This is a book for both individuals and couples searching for financial peace.
"Money harmony comes from within," Mellan writes. "It cannot be bought by simply acquiring more money."
For retirees worried about that next stage in their life, I also suggest "The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life" by Jan Cullinane and Cathy Fitzgerald.
People with retirement financial worries will benefit from "The Retirement Catch-Up Guide: 54 Real-Life Lessons to Boost Your Future Resources Now!" by Ellen Hoffman. Hoffman profiles people who have been able to retire despite low-paying jobs, poor saving habits or credit-card debt. Another good retirement guide is "How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire" by former Washington Post columnist Stan Hinden.
If someone in your life is in the market to buy a house, I suggest "House Poor: Pumped-Up Prices, Rising Rates, and Mortgages on Steroids" by June Fletcher.
For the parents, get "Raising Money Smart Kids: What They Need to Know About Money - And How to Tell Them" by Janet Bodnar. If they have young children between ages 8 to 12, buy Neale S. Godfrey's "Ultimate Kids' Money Book."
Looking for a good basic personal finance book that covers a lot of ground? Try "Smart and Simple Financial Strategies for Busy People" by Jane Bryant Quinn. For the spendthrift in your life, get Dave Ramsey's "The Total Money Makeover" or "Financial Peace Revisited."
The two best investment books to buy are the newly revised "The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need" by Andrew Tobias, and "A Random Walk Down Wall Street" by economist Burton G. Malkiel.
Here's a book for the friend or family member who doesn't get that Christmas is not all about the presents: "Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas" by Bill McKibben. I pull this book out every year.
"The point is not to stop giving; the point is to give things that matter," McKibben writes. "Give things that are rare - time, attention, memory, whimsy. We run short on these things in our lives, even as we have an endless supply of software, hardware, ready-to-wear."
Finally, here are a few personal finance books that are must-reads:
l "The Richest Man in Babylon" by George S. Clason. This book is full of time-tested advice on saving and investing.
l Benjamin Franklin's "The Way to Wealth." Franklin is known for being pennywise, and you won't be a pound foolish for buying this pocketsize book.
l "Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence" by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin. It dares you to examine how you are spending your money and your time.
This year, instead of the same old tie or blouse or scarf, take the time to give someone a gift that makes good financial sense.