Unstable. Unpredictable. Down-right scary. Whatever term you use, the sudden swings in the stock market have left multitudes of brokers and investors scratching their heads. Are we headed for a recession? Is this just a temporary correction? Where is the economy going? With lower returns on investments in the last year, many are simply wondering, where should I put my money? It's an important question, and one that publishers and financial experts are eager to answer. Whether you've just graduated from college and are still more concerned with a latte than an IRA or are only a few years away from retirement, there is sound financial advice available to help you and your portfolio.

One of the most exhaustive resources is Suze Orman's The Road To Wealth: A Comprehensive Guide to Your Money. In 550-plus pages, Orman provides everything you need to know about finances in both good times and bad. A popular financial adviser on television (Oprah, CNBC's Business Center and two PBS specials) and in print, Orman takes a Q&andA approach in her latest book, responding to countless detailed questions about financial issues. Her answers are straight forward, opinionated and fiercely honest. Chapters cover topics ranging from managing debt, finding insurance and paying for college to handling stocks, mutual funds and bonds, and organizing a will or trust. But unlike other financial advisors, Orman is concerned with the whole person. For example, in the chapter on debt, she points out that there is a noticeable correlation between self-esteem and bad debt. The lower your self-esteem, the more willing you are to live in the hole. In a section on handling finances, she explores the links between emotions and money. Such observations add a personal touch and refreshing human element to the information. As an added bonus, buyers of Orman's book will receive the Suze Orman E-Newsletter, a bimonthly publication that includes important resource listings, updates, forecasts and an ongoing economic analysis. It's a great addition to this worthwhile title.

Young readers especially those in their 20s may be intimidated by the sheer thickness of Orman's book. They may be looking for something a little more compact a title that speaks directly to the heart. That was part of the inspiration for Vanessa Summers' Get in the Game: The Girl's Guide to Money & Investing. Summers, who worked six years as a model before becoming a stock broker, knows firsthand how important it is for women to become financially responsible at an early age. She uses her own sense of humor, concern and passion for investing to take readers on a financial adventure. In Get in the Game, Summers explains how 20-something women need to begin developing an emergency adventure backpack, a retirement adventure backpack and a dream adventure backpack. Each one contains the funds needed for various stages in life. Summers knows how to connect with her peers, and she offers advice tailor-made for a generation that came of age in era of boom times and free spending. She understands the natural craving for Starbucks, but explains how a little cutting back now can go a long way in the future.

For those a little further down the path in the journey of life, Ann Douglas and Elizabeth Lewin have written Family Finance: The Essential Guide for Parents. Although small in size, this niche finance book is admirably thorough. Topics ranging from finding the right credit card to buying the right home are examined in light of the special financial concerns of parents. Filled with ideas from surviving the first year to saving for a child's education, the book explores all the stages of parenting. Surprising tidbits of wisdom line the pages. Whether it's advice on where to find maternity clothes, a no-frills baby wardrobe or how to avoid scams, there are dozens of neat lists and guides for parents. Family Finance would make an excellent, practical gift for new parents juggling the financial demands of starting a family.

A number of investors are beyond the cloth versus disposable diaper debate, and are ready to find their own financial opportunities. Off The Record: A Maverick's Secret For Discovering Great Stocksby Craig Gordon with Stephen Kindel, helps individuals learn how to gather data, spot trends and keep a finger on the marketplace, thus making wiser stock buying decisions. Gordon, director of Off-the-Record Research, shares his secrets on how to become a successful marketplace checker. He explains how watching the movement of products in your local grocery store and making a few contacts with company representatives can provide leading information on some of the best-known and lesser-known companies on Wall Street. It's a grassroots approach to investing that will appeal to many individual investors eager to manage their own money.

Another strategy in investing is to follow the lead of those who do it best. The New Investment Superstars: 13 Great Investors and Their Strategies for Superior Returnsby Lois Peltz examines the track records and decisions of 13 hedge fund managers who have matched or outperformed the S&andP 500 for the last seven years. Each person is recognized for their unique areas of expertise whether it's stock picking, sector investing or merger arbitrage and asked candid questions about their strategies, mistakes and outlook. Profiles include Lee Ainslie of Maverick Capital, Leon Cooperman of Omega Advisors, Paul Singer of Elliott Associates, Ken Griffin of Citadel Investment Group and Bruce Wilcox of Cumberland Associates. In closing, Peltz interviews some of those who have invested money with these financial superstars and uncovers how well these leaders have performed for institutions and private investors.

If you're looking for advice on where to put your nest egg, these books will help to put you right on the money.

Margaret Feinberg is a freelance writer based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

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