The best books on practicing Stoicism

Who am I?

Matthew J. Van Natta is an author and podcaster who has been guiding people to Stoicism for over a decade. His focus is on the daily application of Stoic philosophy within the modern world. He writes fiction, drinks coffee, beer, and whiskey, and contemplates the human condition. His writings have been featured on and Modern Stoicism.

I wrote...

The Beginner's Guide to Stoicism: Tools for Emotional Resilience and Positivity

By Matthew Van Natta,

Book cover of The Beginner's Guide to Stoicism: Tools for Emotional Resilience and Positivity

What is my book about?

Being a stoic means embracing positivity and self-control through the ability to accept the uncertainty of outcomes. With this stoicism guide, the beginner stoic will learn how to take charge of their emotions on the path to sustained happiness and satisfaction.

This easy-to-navigate stoicism guide gives you the emotional tools needed to let go of the things you can't control and find joy in what you have. Through thought-provoking strategies and exercises, this book helps you find contentment so you can build closer relationships and become an active member of society.

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The books I picked & why

Being Better: Stoicism for a World Worth Living In

By Kai Whiting, Leonidas Konstantakos,

Book cover of Being Better: Stoicism for a World Worth Living In

Why did I love this book?

Being Better is the best expression of the heart of Stoic philosophy that I have found in print. This is not a how-to book in the style of so many beginner’s manuals (including my own), but instead it is a meditation on the core principles of Stoicism. The authors challenge us to apply those principles in our own lives, so that we can join together in making the world a better place. Each chapter unveils a facet of the philosophy using the experiences of real people, both ancient and modern, as examples of how to apply Stoic thinking to hard problems such as the climate crisis, social justice issues, and economic excess. Being Better moves past simple life hacks to show us how Stoicism can function as a full philosophy of life.

By Kai Whiting, Leonidas Konstantakos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Being Better as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Practical answers to the urgent moral questions of our time from the ancient philosophy of Stoicism

Twenty-three centuries ago, in a marketplace in Athens, Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism, built his philosophy on powerful ideas that still resonate today: all human beings can become citizens of the world, regardless of their nationality, gender, or social class; happiness comes from living in harmony with nature; and, most important, humans always have the freedom to choose their attitude, even when they cannot control external circumstances. In our age of political polarization and environmental destruction, Stoicism’s empowering message has taken on…

Book cover of The Practicing Stoic: A Philosophical User's Manual

Why did I love this book?

In The Practicing Stoic, Ward Farnsworth has collected a wide range of Stoic and Stoicism-adjacent quotes into one place, each categorized by subject, and in so doing he has given every seeker of wisdom a true gift. Need advice concerning emotional health, overcoming adversity, dealing with wealth, or even the topic of death? The Practicing Stoic contains practical, timeless wisdom on every page. On my first reading, it felt like I was moving through years of my own journals, notebooks, and highlighted pages, except everything was conveniently organized rather than frustratingly scattered about. Farnsworth also lends us his own insights in this collection, as he expounds on the Stoic worldview while weaving together the many excerpts he has collected for us. The Practicing Stoic is a book I often find reason to return to, and it’s worth having on your shelf.

By Ward Farnsworth,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Farnsworth beautifully integrates his own observations with scores of quotations from Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Montaigne and others. This isn't just a book to read-it's a book to return to, a book that will provide perspective and consolation at times of heartbreak or calamity."-The Washington Post

See more clearly, live more wisely, and bear the burdens of this life with greater ease-here are the greatest insights of the Stoics, in their own words. Presented in twelve lessons, Ward Farnsworth systematically presents the heart of Stoic philosophy accompanied by commentary that is clear and concise.

A foundational idea to Stoicism is…

Book cover of A Field Guide to a Happy Life: 53 Brief Lessons for Living

Why did I love this book?

A Field Guide to a Happy Life is an outstanding example of what a modern Stoic book can and should be. Pigliucci has taken the famous Handbook (Enchiridion) of the Roman Stoic teacher, Epictetus, and reworked it to reflect a more modern approach to the philosophy. As such, this field guide is a portable, practical guide to applying Stoic wisdom in your day to day life.

What I most appreciate about A Field Guide to a Happy Life is that the author’s update of the philosophy is clearly described in a later section of the book. This allows the reader to compare and contrast the ancient with the modern. What does it mean to adopt and adapt a two thousand year old philosophy? This unique book is both a practical philosophical guide, and a jumping off point to deeper study.

By Massimo Pigliucci,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Field Guide to a Happy Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Bursting with practical wisdom and engaging stories ... a Stoicism 2.0 for twenty-first century happiness' Skye Cleary

'A bold, contemporary updating of Stoicism for the present day' John Sellars, author of Lessons in Stoicism

Learn how to survive life's hardships and enjoy its pleasures with the modern stoic mindset.

In this enlightening book, philosopher Massimo Pigliucci offers a thoughtful and modern reinterpretation of Epictetus's 53 lessons for living a good life. Drawing on the ancient wisdom of the Stoics, this is a comforting guide that will help you reclaim the power of your emotional response and let go of the…

Book cover of Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction

Why did I love this book?

Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction provides the reader with a thorough understanding of the theoretical framework that supports the Stoic philosophy as well as a solid overview of its long history. Many people who become interested in Stoicism jump directly into the ancient writings, only to find that none of them are organized in a way that supports a new student. Inwood’s book provides necessary context so that we can freely engage with the ancient philosophers and gain deeper insights.

By Brad Inwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stoicism is two things: a long past philosophical school of ancient Greece and Rome, and an enduring philosophical movement that still inspires people in the twenty-first century to re-think and re-organize their lives in order to achieve personal satisfaction. What is the connection between them?

This Very Short Introduction provides an introductory account of Stoic philosophy, and tells the story of how ancient Stoicism survived and evolved into the movement we see today. Exploring the roots of the school in the philosophy of fourth century BCE Greece, Brad Inwood examines its basic history and doctrines and its relationship to the…

Book cover of Stoic Spiritual Exercises

Why did I love this book?

Stoic Spiritual Exercises is a short, straightforward book that deserves to be better known among practicing Stoics. Buzaré collects a wide variety of Stoic practices into one place, and categorizes them by the aspects of the philosophy to which they most directly apply. You will find various forms of meditation, as well as visualization techniques, Stoic mindsets, mental disciplines, and the author’s reconstruction of a Stoic meditation informed by Buddhist Samatha-Vispassyana therapy. In my day to day there are a handful of Stoic practices that I turn to consistently. Whenever I feel the need to expand my work, or I want to challenge myself in a new way, I take Stoic Spiritual Exercises off the shelf to help me find where to go.

By Elen Buzaré,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Stoic Spiritual Exercises as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this short essay, Elen Buzaré examines ancient sources for clues to how Stoics of the Roman era used psychological techniques for turning doctrine into practical daily living, securing for themselves lives that flourished, free from troubles, enjoying an unshakeable peace of mind. With the help of this short guide, modern readers can similarly train themselves to live as Stoics, making progress towards the same 'good flow of life' and serenity, and develop a mindfulness that is immune to all harm, joyous in response to all that fate might bring. Especially suited to those who have already introduced themselves to…

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