The best books to get a taste of philosophy

Thomas Cathcart and Danny Klein Author Of Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between
By Thomas Cathcart and Danny Klein

Who are we?

Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein have been thinking deep thoughts and writing jokes for decades, and now they are here to help us understand philosophy through jokes, and jokes through philosophy. They like philosophy and they like jokes, not necessarily in that order. Best of all, they like combining them. 


I wrote...

Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between

By Thomas Cathcart and Danny Klein,

Book cover of Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (and Jokes!) to Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everything in Between

What is my book about?

A hilarious take on the philosophy, theology and psychology of mortality and immortality. That is, death. The authors pry open the coffin lid on this one, looking at the Big D, its prequel, Life, and its sequel, the Hereafter. Philosophers such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Camus and Sartre have been wrestling with the meaning of death for as long as they have been wrestling with the meaning of life. Fortunately, humourists have been keeping pace with the major thinkers by creating gags about dying. Death's funny that way - it gets everybody's attention.

The books we picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Moviegoer

By Walker Percy,

Book cover of The Moviegoer

Why this book?

For some philosophical subjects, a novel or play can convey more than an essay. Think Camus's “The Myth of Sisyphus" for conveying the absurdity of life. Well, ditto for Walker Percy's “The Moviegoer". One of the first American Existentialist novels, it also happens to be hilarious.


About Philosophy

By Robert Wolff,

Book cover of About Philosophy

Why this book?

It’s one of the best and most accessible introductions to philosophy, now in its tenth edition. It’s also by our favorite college teacher.


The Art of Happiness

By Epicurus,

Book cover of The Art of Happiness

Why this book?

Epicurus gives hedonism a good name. The book is a guide for how to live and particularly well-suited to readers of a certain age.


Language, Truth and Logic

By Alfred Jules Ayer,

Book cover of Language, Truth and Logic

Why this book?

It’s no secret that philosophy can often be murky. Ayer clears away the mud and shows us how to think clearly and logically about some traditional philosophical problems.


The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

By Søren Kierkegaard, Alastair Hannay,

Book cover of The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

Why this book?

The acknowledged father of existentialism actually makes anxiety interesting (if you’re into that sort of thing.) Not for sissies.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in philosophy, anxiety, and epicureanism?

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

Philosophy Explore 327 books about philosophy
Anxiety Explore 132 books about anxiety
Epicureanism Explore 11 books about epicureanism

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like On the Nature of Things, How to Be Content, and Philosophical Investigations if you like this list.