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 SpiritualNaturalistSociety.org 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.

The books I picked & why

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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 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.


The Practicing Stoic: A Philosophical User's Manual

By Ward Farnsworth,

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

Why 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.


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

By Massimo Pigliucci,

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

Why 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.


Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction

By Brad Inwood,

Book cover of Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction

Why 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.


Stoic Spiritual Exercises

By Elen Buzaré,

Book cover of Stoic Spiritual Exercises

Why 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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in stoicism, life satisfaction, and philosophy?

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

Stoicism Explore 52 books about stoicism
Life Satisfaction Explore 120 books about life satisfaction
Philosophy Explore 327 books about philosophy

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Letters from a Stoic, Meditations, and The Art of Living if you like this list.