The best academic books on Stoicism for modern Stoic practitioners

Who am I?

I learned about Stoicism through its connection to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, whose founder, Albert Ellis, was influenced by Stoic philosophy. Since I had an interest in philosophy, I decided to look more into Stoicism, and—to my surprise—I learned that philosophy could be practical (who knew?!), and that others were trying to put Stoicism into practice today! This led me to try to find other Stoics by founding the New York City Stoics in 2013, followed by co-founding a non-profit—The Stoic Fellowship—to help other people do the same in 2016. I’ve now given talks on Stoicism worldwide in addition to co-writing a book on Stoic practice.


I wrote...

A Handbook for New Stoics: How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control―52 Week-by-Week Lessons

By Gregory Lopez, Massimo Pigliucci,

Book cover of A Handbook for New Stoics: How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control―52 Week-by-Week Lessons

What is my book about?

Stoicism is an ancient pragmatic philosophy that teaches us to step back, gain perspective, act with intention, and strive to become the best version of ourselves. In A Handbook for New Stoics, Gregory Lopez and Massimo Pigliucci provide 52 practical week-by-week lessons that help you apply timeless Stoic teachings to modern life.

Whether you’re already familiar with Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, or you’re entirely new to Stoicism, this handbook will help you put Stoicism into practice to help you embrace challenges, thrive under pressure, and discover the good life!

The books I picked & why

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Stoicism

By John Sellars,

Book cover of Stoicism

Why this book?

I don’t think it’s possible to practice Stoicism well without a solid understanding of what Stoicism is. It’s not a set of life hacks, but a life philosophy. This book provides a rigorous but very readable historical introduction to Stoicism as a coherent art of living by covering the three classical philosophical topics of ancient Stoicism—logic, physics, and ethics. It also provides a great historical overview, suggestions for further reading, and a handy glossary of key Stoic technical terms. If you’re looking for a single book covering the basics of ancient Stoicism, this is a great place to start.

Stoicism

By John Sellars,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first introduction to Stoic philosophy for 30 years. Aimed at readers new to Stoicism and to ancient philosophy, it outlines the central philosophical ideas of Stoicism and introduces the reader to the different ancient authors and sources that they will encounter when exploring Stoicism. The range of sources that are drawn upon in the reconstruction of Stoic philosophy can be bewildering for the beginner. Sellars guides the reader through the surviving works of the late Stoic authors, Seneca and Epictetus, and the fragments relating to the early Stoics found in authors such as Plutarch and Stobaeus. The…


The Role Ethics of Epictetus: Stoicism in Ordinary Life

By Brian E. Johnson,

Book cover of The Role Ethics of Epictetus: Stoicism in Ordinary Life

Why this book?

One of the most common types of questions I hear about Stoicism concerns what “the Stoic thing to do” is. In a certain situation, is it more Stoic to do X or Y? Johnson’s book does a masterful job of unearthing Epictetus’s theory of role ethics so that you can answer this question for yourself. By thinking about your roles in life, you can deduce the appropriate action in many circumstances. And what’s appropriate depends on who you are and what your role in the situation is. My personal Stoic practice owes a lot to Johnson’s work—while the book is indeed academic, it contains a lot of helpful information for the modern Stoic practitioner.

The Role Ethics of Epictetus: Stoicism in Ordinary Life

By Brian E. Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Role Ethics of Epictetus: Stoicism in Ordinary Life offers an original interpretation of Epictetus's ethics and how he bases his ethics on an appeal to our roles in life. Epictetus believes that every individual is the bearer of many roles from sibling to citizen and that individuals are morally good if they fulfill the obligations associated with these roles. To understand Epictetus's account of roles, scholars have often mistakenly looked backwards to Cicero's earlier and more schematic account of roles. However, for Cicero, roles are merely a tool in the service of the virtue of decorum where decorum is…


Stoicism and Emotion

By Margaret Graver,

Book cover of Stoicism and Emotion

Why this book?

I first got into Stoicism the way most people do: to feel better and get control over my emotions. But after I studied and practiced it more, I realized that I got into it for the wrong reasons! Stoicism’s goal isn’t to get control over emotions per se, but to eliminate a subset of them—the passions—because they stem from false beliefs. And you can’t control them; according to Stoic theory, once you let the passions arise by agreeing with the false underlying beliefs, they control you. Graver’s book was pivotal for my understanding of the Stoic theory of emotions in a deeper and more accurate way.

Stoicism and Emotion

By Margaret Graver,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

On the surface, stoicism and emotion seem like contradictory terms. Yet the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece and Rome were deeply interested in the emotions, which they understood as complex judgments about what we regard as valuable in our surroundings. "Stoicism and Emotion" shows that they did not simply advocate a suppression of feeling, as stoicism implies in today's English, but instead conducted a searching examination of these powerful psychological responses, seeking to understand what attitude toward them expresses the deepest respect for human potential. In this work, Margaret R. Graver gives a compelling new interpretation of the Stoic position.…


The Stoic Life: Emotions, Duties, and Fate

By Tad Brennan,

Book cover of The Stoic Life: Emotions, Duties, and Fate

Why this book?

Stoic practice involves a series of techniques to ultimately improve the state of your mind. To do that effectively, it’s immensely helpful to understand the Stoic conception of how the mind works. Part II of The Stoic Life is my go-to reference for reviewing the basics of Stoic psychology, in addition to covering key principles of Stoic ethics in Part III of the book. These two concepts are essential to understand for modern Stoics, and Brennan does a masterful job of explaining them.

The Stoic Life: Emotions, Duties, and Fate

By Tad Brennan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tad Brennan explains how to live the Stoic life - and why we might want to. Stoicism has been one of the main currents of thought in Western civilization for two thousand years: Brennan offers a fascinating guide through the ethical ideas of the original Stoic philosophers, and shows how valuable these ideas remain today, both intellectually and in practice. He writes in a lively informal style which will bring Stoicism to life for readers who are new to ancient
philosophy. The Stoic Life will also be of great interest to philosophers and classicists seeking a full understanding of the…


The Stoics Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonia

By Brad Inwood, Lloyd P. Gerson,

Book cover of The Stoics Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonia

Why this book?

The surviving writings of the “big three” Stoics—Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca—are the first places people turn when they want to learn about Stoicism from its original practitioners. But these three sources are missing something very important: a coherent overview of Stoic ethics. The Stoics Reader has not just one, but three such overviews from the ancient philosophical biographer Diogenes Laertius, the Stoic sympathizer Cicero, and the Stoic teacher of Augustus Caesar—Arius Didymus. This volume is one of the few places you can find an English translation of Arius’s summary of Stoic ethics, making it worth the price of purchase alone. 

The Stoics Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonia

By Brad Inwood, Lloyd P. Gerson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This volume gathers together the most important evidence about Stoic thought surviving from the ancient world. It is an expanded version of the section on Stoicism in Inwood and Gerson's Hellenistic Philosophy, consolidating related texts into larger, more continuous selections, adding material on the skeptical attack on Stoicism, and a short section that introduces the reader to some of the more interesting texts on Stoic ethics from the Roman imperial period. Inwood and Gerson provide lucid, accurate translations, an Introduction that sets the works included in historical and philosophical context, a glossary of terms, a glossary of philosophers and philosophical…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in stoicism, Epictetus, and philosophy?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about stoicism, Epictetus, and philosophy.

Stoicism Explore 57 books about stoicism
Epictetus Explore 15 books about Epictetus
Philosophy Explore 392 books about philosophy

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Letters from a Stoic, Meditations, and Discourses, Fragments, Handbook if you like this list.