The best modern books on Stoicism to help translate the ancient to now

Why am I passionate about this?

Kevin Vost earned his doctorate in clinical psychology at Adler University with internship and dissertation work at the Southern Illinois University’s Alzheimer Center. He first came to know and love the Stoics in the 1980s through his studies in cognitive psychotherapy. He has taught psychology and gerontology at the University of Illinois at Springfield and Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of twenty books on psychology, philosophy, physical fitness, and theology, with three more books in press, including Memorize the Stoics! The Ancient Art of Memory Meets the Timeless Art of Living.


I wrote...

The Porch and the Cross: Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living

By Kevin Vost,

Book cover of The Porch and the Cross: Ancient Stoic Wisdom for Modern Christian Living

What is my book about?

Regardless of their sometimes ambiguous concepts of God, the Roman Stoic philosophers did acknowledge Him, but on the basis of reason alone, because they had not met Christ. Nonetheless, they did deduce from God's existence our need to live lives of virtue, honor, tranquility, and self-control--and they developed effective techniques to help us achieve this. Musonius Rufus the teacher, Epictetus the slave, Seneca the adviser to emperors, and Marcus Aurelius, the emperor himself, produced a practical technology we can use to integrate Christian ethics into our own daily practice. As Kevin Vost so wonderfully illustrates in his new book, The Porch and the Cross, the Stoics can help us learn--and remember--what is up to us, and what is up to God alone.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

Kevin Vost Why did I love this book?

This book is an excellent introduction for those new to Stoic philosophy and a treat for those who know the Stoics well. Robertson, a psychotherapist and renowned expert on Stoic philosophy, weaves together noble Stoic insights on how to live a tranquil, happy, virtuous, socially responsible life with the most effective techniques of modern cognitive psychotherapy that grew from those insights. His deep knowledge of and respect for the wisdom of Marcus Aurelius also rings clear from these fascinating pages which bring the ancient philosopher-emperor to life as a noble guide to the good life for citizens of the 21st century.

By Donald Robertson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked How to Think Like a Roman Emperor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This book is a wonderful introduction to one of history's greatest figures: Marcus Aurelius. His life and this book are a clear guide for those facing adversity, seeking tranquility and pursuing excellence." --Ryan Holiday, bestselling author of The Obstacle is the Way and The Daily Stoic

The life-changing principles of Stoicism taught through the story of its most famous proponent.

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think…


Book cover of Lives of the Stoics: The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius

Kevin Vost Why did I love this book?

Fans of the Stoics tend to be most familiar by far with the lives and the writings of Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius, and to a lesser extent, Epictetus’ teacher, Musonius Rufus, because of the quantity and quality of their writings and teachings that survive to our day. Within this book’s pages, you will indeed find Epictetus “The Free Man,” Seneca “The Striver,” Aurelius “The Philosopher King,” and Rufus “The Unbreakable,” but you will also be introduced to the lives and ideas of twenty-two other remarkable Stoics from Stoicism’s founder, Zeno “The Prophet” to lesser known Stoics dubbed with such intriguing titles as “The Last Honest Man” and “The Iron Woman.” This book brings to life many Stoic figures mentioned briefly in the writings of our best known Stoics. I’ve found that when I reread the three major Stoics now, such honorable mentions have become so much more meaningful, and will sometimes prompt me to return to reread that person’s chapter in this book. The Stoics taught that philosophy is not just an intellectual vocation or pastime, but an art of living or way of life. Therefore, the stories of how they lived out their Stoic ideas in their own daily lives are particularly important. I absolutely love this book’s contents and the way it’s written. Informative. Intriguing. Inspiring.

By Stephen Hanselman, Ryan Holiday,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lives of the Stoics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
#1 WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER

From the bestselling authors of The Daily Stoic - an inspiring guide to the lives of Stoicism's greatest practitioners

A New York Times Noteworthy Pick

'In story after page-turning story, Lives of the Stoics brings ancient philosophers to life.' - David Epstein, bestselling author of Range

'Wonderful' - Chris Bosh, two-time NBA Champion

For millennia, Stoicism has been the ancient philosophy that attracts those who seek greatness, from athletes to politicians and everyone in between. And no wonder: its embrace of self-mastery, virtue and indifference to that which we cannot…


Book cover of Philosophy as a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault

Kevin Vost Why did I love this book?

I simply had to include one of philosopher Pierre Hadot’s wise and weighty books on Stoic philosophy. The subject matter of this book is centered on Stoic thought, but draws on, compares, and contrasts Stoic ideas with other foundational ideas in ancient and more modern philosophy. The key theme, as the title suggests, is that philosophy’s highest calling is as a way to transform and improve the way one actually lives one’s life. While including chapters on Aurelius, and on Socrates, (a highly respected pre-Stoic inspiration to the Stoics), another main emphasis is on how Stoic practices serve as “spiritual exercises,” and how we can come to learn them, use them, and grow from them too as a means to make philosophy our own way of life. Not a particularly easy read, but a read well worth the effort – and repeated rereads as the years roll by.

By Pierre Hadot,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Philosophy as a Way of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book presents a history of spiritual exercises from Socrates to early Christianity, an account of their decline in modern philosophy, and a discussion of the different conceptions of philosophy that have accompanied the trajectory and fate of the theory and practice of spiritual exercises. Hadota s book demonstrates the extent to which philosophy has been, and still is, above all else a way of seeing and of being in the world.


Book cover of Letters on Ethics: To Lucilius

Kevin Vost Why did I love this book?

Perhaps I’m cheating a bit on this one since I promised to recommend the best “modern” books on Stoicism and Seneca wrote his 124 famous letters almost 2,000 years ago, but since my other recommendations are Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus heavy, I wanted to make sure that any person exploring Stoicism for the first time gets a taste of Seneca too. While there are some wonderful books out there on the intriguing character of Seneca the man I’m not aware of a particular one-volume book that examines Seneca’s philosophy with the kind of depth we see in books on Aurelius and Epictetus. Besides, while the letters are ancient, this particular translation is modern and has been done by two highly-respected scholars of Stoic thought of the very first rank. They do a wonderful job (though I must admit, I first met Seneca’s Letters through the Penguin and Loeb editions and I’ve yet to meet a translation that I don’t like.)

Seneca’s Letters provide a vast assortment of humane insights from the Stoics foremost and also from other rival schools of philosophy like Epicureanism. Seneca loves truth wherever it might be found. He thinks it best to enter and borrow freely from “the other camp” of rival schools of philosophy, “not as a deserter, but as a spy.” The Letters are a world unto themselves, incredibly rich in noble, humane insights, written with elegance, and studded with countless bon mots. I encourage everyone to join Seneca’s camp through his Letters (or at least to spy on it again and again.)

By Margaret Graver, A.A. Long, Lucius Seneca

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Letters on Ethics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Roman statesman and philosopher Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) recorded his moral philosophy and reflections on life as a highly original kind of correspondence. Letters on Ethics includes vivid descriptions of town and country life in Nero's Italy, discussions of poetry and oratory, and philosophical training for Seneca's friend Lucilius. This volume, the first complete English translation in nearly a century, makes the Letters more accessible than ever before. Written as much for a general audience as for Lucilius, these engaging letters offer advice on how to deal with everything from nosy neighbors to sickness, pain, and death. Seneca uses…


Book cover of The Epictetus Club

Kevin Vost Why did I love this book?

I wanted to include a book of fiction that brings Stoic thought to life in our modern world, and this was a tough decision for me. I’d like to draw attention to a wonderful little 150-page gem that is not nearly as widely known. Traylor’s fascinating little novel is actually “fictionalized,” its characters being crafted from actual people. And who are these people? Neither philosophers nor psychologists captivated by Stoic thought, nor average Joes or Janes out on the street, but the inmates of maximum security prisons Traylor met while working as a counselor. Epictetus is the Stoic who teaches most about personal, internal, moral freedom, and self-control, having once been a slave himself. This book shows how well the ex-slave’s lessons can resonate with and morally transform anyone today who strives for such freedom, even if imprisoned behind steel bars. Please do find an hour or two to read this wonderful book.

By Jeff Traylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Epictetus Club as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Take a fascinating look inside the old Ohio Penitentiary as you follow a group of inmates who meet weekly under the tutelage of a lifer named Zeno in a group called the Epictetus Club. The inmates study the teachings of this Greek philosopher, and with the help of his ancient wisdom they meet the daily challenges of their lives. Learning to think outside the limits of their own literal walls as they struggle to redeem themselves, the club members show us how to think beyond our own self-imposed limitations and comfort zones.


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Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

Book cover of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

Antonieta Contreras Author Of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

As a trauma therapist and dedicated researcher, I love uncovering valuable insights within lesser-known books. There are hidden gems, free from the pressure of commercial success, crafted by authors deeply committed to research, understanding, and the art of writing itself. Their dedication resonates with me, as I believe in the profound value of information and the power of critical thinking. Through my own book, Traumatization and Its Aftermath, I aim to emphasize that psychological concepts often lose their depth in translation and my mission is spreading awareness and fostering a deeper understanding of trauma and its intricate facets. With that idea in mind, I chose these five titles. 

Antonieta's book list on uncovering the human experience and exploring the depths of trauma

What is my book about?

A fresh take on the difference between trauma and hardship in order to help accurately spot the difference and avoid over-generalizations.

The book integrates the latest findings in brain science, child development, psycho-social context, theory, and clinical experiences to make the case that trauma is much more than a cluster of symptoms to be tamed, but instead best understood as development gone off course, away from growth and towards (only) survival.

This book prompts a profound shift in perception, inviting to view trauma as an intricate and diverse experience, a point of view that ultimately leads to sharper treatment and, hopefully, more healing. It encourages a transition from asking, "What happened to you?" to the deeper question, "What is your relationship with what happened to you?"

Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

What is this book about?

The book is comprehensive, bold, and practical-a much-needed resource for the assessment and treatment of trauma. Instead of the traditional focus on the overall importance of healing, Traumatization and its Aftermath decodes why some people don't heal as easily as others, analyzes the various failures of diagnosis, and explains how to make therapeutic interventions truly effective.

This book offers a systemic deep dive into traumatization that clarifies myths and misinformation about the entire spectrum of trauma and provides both clinicians and non-clinicians with the right level of validation, preventive measures, conceptualization methodology, assessment tools, and healing facts that have not…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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