The best books on philosophy and humanity’s search for meaning

Sue Prideaux Author Of I Am Dynamite!: A Life of Nietzsche
By Sue Prideaux

Who am I?

I am fascinated by humanity’s search for meaning. That is what I am exploring as I read philosophy and as I write my biographies of extraordinary individuals. Sue Prideaux has written award-winning books on Edvard Munch and his painting The Scream, the playwright August Strindberg, and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. She acted as consultant to Sotheby’s when they sold The Scream for a record-breaking $120 million.


I wrote...

I Am Dynamite!: A Life of Nietzsche

By Sue Prideaux,

Book cover of I Am Dynamite!: A Life of Nietzsche

What is my book about?

Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most enigmatic figures in philosophy, and his concepts—the Übermensch, the will to power, slave morality—have fundamentally reshaped our understanding of the human condition. But what do most people really know of Nietzsche—beyond the mustache, the scowl, and the lingering association with nihilism and fascism? Where do we place a thinker who was equally beloved by Albert Camus, Ayn Rand, Martin Buber, and Adolf Hitler?

The books I picked & why

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A Little History of Philosophy

By Nigel Warburton,

Book cover of A Little History of Philosophy

Why this book?

Nietzsche said; “Today’s philosophers enjoy the divine principle of incomprehensibility.” This clearly written book takes the opposite tack. If you’re terrified of philosophy, this is the book for you. A great book to get the kids interested in the subject.


How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer

By Sarah Bakewell,

Book cover of How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer

Why this book?

Nietzsche said; “Only those with very large lungs have the right to write long sentences.” Montaigne was of the same opinion. He pre-dated Nietzsche in couching his philosophy simply and clearly in short, sharp aphorisms. Like Nietzsche’s aphorisms, they are often very funny.


In the Land of the Cyclops

By Karl Ove Knausgaard,

Book cover of In the Land of the Cyclops

Why this book?

Nietzsche said; “Art is the supreme task, the truly metaphysical activity in this life.” The relationship between life and art has always been a tough issue. Even more so today, in our unsettling age of post-truth and celebrity culture. Knausgaard writes not to provide answers, but to teach us to ask the proper questions of the time we live in.


Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World

By Tom Holland,

Book cover of Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World

Why this book?

Nietzsche said “God is dead, but in thousands of years there still may be caves where his shadow will be shown.” Tom Holland traces the effect of the long shadow on our lives.


Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School

By Stuart Jeffries,

Book cover of Grand Hotel Abyss: The Lives of the Frankfurt School

Why this book?

Nietzsche said; “To greatness belongs dreadfulness, let no-one be deceived about that”, while he watched the rise of German nationalism with horror. This is a book about the Frankfurt School of Philosophers who got together in the 1920s to try to find answers to the rise of fascism in Europe. Brave voices, their words tell us a lot about how we arrived at where we are today.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in philosophy, philosophers, and science?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about philosophy, philosophers, and science.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like A History of Western Philosophy, The Story of Philosophy, and Consilience if you like this list.