100 books like A Field Guide to a Happy Life

By Massimo Pigliucci,

Here are 100 books that A Field Guide to a Happy Life fans have personally recommended if you like A Field Guide to a Happy Life. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Discourses, Fragments, Handbook

Brian E. Johnson Author Of The Role Ethics of Epictetus: Stoicism in Ordinary Life

From my list on Stoicism through the eyes of a philosophy professor.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an associate professor of philosophy at Fordham University. I earned my Ph.D. at the University of Chicago (the same institution where the fictional Indiana Jones is said to have earned his doctorate!). I specialize in Greek and Roman ethics with a particular emphasis on Stoicism.

Brian's book list on Stoicism through the eyes of a philosophy professor

Brian E. Johnson Why did Brian love this book?

Author Elif Batuman wrote of the Stoic Epictetus, he “won me over with his tone, which was that of an enraged athletics coach.” He is feisty, demanding, sarcastic, but he can be surprisingly poignant and occasionally empathetic to his audience. Epictetus himself wrote nothing; what survives was written down by a student. We therefore witness Epictetus live as he works with his own student or even when he talks with magistrates who would came to consult with him at the end of the day. Epictetus had been a slave early in life so it packs quite a wallop when he tells freeborn Romans that they have the worst kind of slavery: enslavement to external goods at the cost of their inner freedom.

By Christopher Gill, Robin Hard (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'About things that are within our power and those that are not.'

Epictetus's Discourses have been the most widely read and influential of all writings of Stoic philosophy, from antiquity onwards. They set out the core ethical principles of Stoicism in a form designed to help people put them into practice and to use them as a basis for leading a good human life. Epictetus was a teacher, and a freed slave, whose discourses have a vivid informality, animated by anecdotes and dialogue. Forceful, direct, and challenging, their central message is that the
basis of happiness is up to us,…


Book cover of Meditations

Brian E. Johnson Author Of The Role Ethics of Epictetus: Stoicism in Ordinary Life

From my list on Stoicism through the eyes of a philosophy professor.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an associate professor of philosophy at Fordham University. I earned my Ph.D. at the University of Chicago (the same institution where the fictional Indiana Jones is said to have earned his doctorate!). I specialize in Greek and Roman ethics with a particular emphasis on Stoicism.

Brian's book list on Stoicism through the eyes of a philosophy professor

Brian E. Johnson Why did Brian love this book?

While riding on the New York subway one day, the young woman sitting next to me was reading from the so-called “Little Black Book” (a collection of daily thoughts often read by members of Alcoholics Anonymous). After closing the book, she pulled out this very edition of Marcus Aurelius and I could not help but comment to her that she had made a great choice. Not only does the theme of the “Serenity Prayer” go back to Stoics, but Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations (literally titled “To Himself”) show the thoughtful and meditative side of Stoicism. In addition, Marcus Aurelius seems to be practicing what we now call spiritual exercises. Last, what is especially striking is that the Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote many of these entries while he was stuck on military campaigns; thus, we see up close a man utilizing Stoicism to grapple with the messiness of life.

By Marcus Aurelius, Martin Hammond (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Their icy blasts are refreshing and restorative. They tell you the worst. And having heard the worst, you feel less bad' Blake Morrison

Written in Greek by the only Roman emperor who was also a philosopher, without any intention of publication, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius offer a remarkable series of challenging spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the emperor struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. While the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation and encouragement, Marcus Aurelius also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy: a timeless collection that has been…


Book cover of Epictetus: A Stoic and Socratic Guide to Life

Morgan Wade Author Of The Last Stoic

From my list on Stoicism and ancient Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

I received my first introduction to the Stoics when completing a Master’s in Philosophy. It was enough to spark a life-long interest. Later in life I read Stoicism widely, along with classical history, including Gibbon and Durant. What struck me about Gibbon’s work was how the ancient “golden age,” with the enlightened rule of its “five good emperors,” including Marcus Aurelius, closely mirrored the trajectory of the contemporary American empire. Today, pundits sometimes casually refer to the US as a reincarnation of the Roman Empire. They talk of Pax Americana, imperial presidencies, and American exceptionalism. I wondered how far one could take that idea and this led me to begin work on The Last Stoic.

Morgan's book list on Stoicism and ancient Rome

Morgan Wade Why did Morgan love this book?

Another Stoic classic. Written, again, in a highly accessible, conversational style. In fact, the only teachings by Epictetus that we know of today were recorded from his lectures by his disciple Arrian.  This book has given great solace to many people over the years. It is said that Frederick the Great never campaigned without it. And, the war hero Admiral James Stockdale credits Epictetus with helping him endure seven and a half years in a North Vietnamese military prison—including torture—and four years in solitary confinement. “No man is free who is not master of himself.”

By A.A. Long,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The philosophy of Epictetus, a freed slave in the Roman Empire, has been profoundly influential on Western thought: it offers not only stimulating ideas but practical guidance in living one's life. A. A. Long, a leading scholar of later ancient philosophy, gives the definitive presentation of the thought of Epictetus for a broad readership. Long's fresh and vivid translations of a selection of the best of Epictetus' discourses show that his ideas are as valuable and
striking today as they were amost two thousand years ago. The translations are organized thematically within the framework of an authoritative introduction and commentary,…


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

Matthew Van Natta Author Of The Beginner's Guide to Stoicism: Tools for Emotional Resilience and Positivity

From my list on practicing Stoicism.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Matthew's book list on practicing Stoicism

Matthew Van Natta Why did Matthew 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

Matthew Van Natta Author Of The Beginner's Guide to Stoicism: Tools for Emotional Resilience and Positivity

From my list on practicing Stoicism.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Matthew's book list on practicing Stoicism

Matthew Van Natta Why did Matthew 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 Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction

Chuck Chakrapani Author Of Unshakable Freedom: Ancient Stoic Secrets Applied to Modern Life

From my list on Stoicism for beginners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Editor of the free online magazine The Stoic and the author of some twenty books on Stoicism. My day job is President, Leger Analytics, and I am also a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University. I am not a professional philosopher. I study and write about Stoicism because it helps us to live better, free of fear, anxiety, worry, or anger.

Chuck's book list on Stoicism for beginners

Chuck Chakrapani Why did Chuck love this book?

If you read the three books mentioned above, you will get a very good idea about Stoicism and how it can help you to lead a better life. But these books do not give a comprehensive overall picture of Stoic philosophy. They tend to ignore many aspects of Stoicism. If you want to have a good overall understanding of Stoic philosophy without having to spend a lot of time or money, get this book. In just 152 pages, Brad Inwood, a distinguished Stoic scholar, gives a clear account of what Stoicism is all about. If you are serious about Stoicism, at some point you need to have a reasonable understanding of what Stoicism actually was and is. You can find no better introduction to Stoicism than this.

This book is so concise, comprehensive, and clear, there’s no other book that directly competes with this one.

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

Matthew Van Natta Author Of The Beginner's Guide to Stoicism: Tools for Emotional Resilience and Positivity

From my list on practicing Stoicism.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Matthew's book list on practicing Stoicism

Matthew Van Natta Why did Matthew 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…


Book cover of The Art of Living

Chuck Chakrapani Author Of Unshakable Freedom: Ancient Stoic Secrets Applied to Modern Life

From my list on Stoicism for beginners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Editor of the free online magazine The Stoic and the author of some twenty books on Stoicism. My day job is President, Leger Analytics, and I am also a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University. I am not a professional philosopher. I study and write about Stoicism because it helps us to live better, free of fear, anxiety, worry, or anger.

Chuck's book list on Stoicism for beginners

Chuck Chakrapani Why did Chuck love this book?

How do you get a quick understanding of what Stoicism is and what it can do for you? There are many good books on Stoicism, but not all of them are easy to follow. If they are easy to follow, they are not short. Sharon Lebell’s The Art of Living is short, clear, and is a faithful rendition of Epictetus’ Handbook. By just investing a few hours in this book, you can become a better person living a more pleasant life (assuming you follow the principles!). In this book, Epictetus shows us how to live a life that leads to freedom and happiness.

Why this version? The Art of Living is not a scholarly work and is not a true translation of the original. It is a modern English rendering of it, a good place for a beginner to start their journey into Stoicism.

By Epictetus (lead author), Sharon Lebell (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"An immense dose of Epictetus would do us all a great deal of good, and I am grateful (beyond irony) to Tom Wolfe for reviving Epictetus" - Harold Bloom. So what makes the writings of this former slave so powerful today? Epictetus observed that although everyday life is fraught with difficulty, a life of virtue is within reach. He dedicated his life to outlining the simple way to happiness, fulfillment, and tranquility. By putting into practice the 93 witty, wise, and razor-sharp instructions that make up "The Art of Living", readers learn to gracefully meet the challenges of everyday life…


Book cover of Meditations

George J. Siedel Author Of Seven Essentials for Business Success

From my list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I headed the Executive Education Center at the University of Michigan I had the opportunity to meet with many great leaders and observe them in action. I also enjoy interacting with faculty colleagues who conduct state-of-the-art research on leadership. Because of this experience, I believe that leaders are made, not born, and that reading biographies, psychological studies, philosophical commentary, histories, and fiction like the books on my list is one of the best ways to gain insight into what you need to become a great leader. 

George's book list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title

George J. Siedel Why did George love this book?

Leaders should develop a philosophy of life—a north star that will guide them through difficult times. This timeless classic by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius provides a combination of wisdom and practical advice that serves as a reference both for those in a leadership position and for individuals seeking a deeper understanding of their daily lives. Here is a sample: “The longest-lived and those who will die soonest lose the same thing. The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose.”

By Marcus Aurelius, Maxwell Staniforth (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Penguin Great Ideas edition of Stoic philosophy in wise and practical aphorisms that have inspired Bill Clinton, Ryan Holiday, Anna Kendrick and many more.

Few ancient works have been as influential as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and emperor of Rome (A.D. 161-180). A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus's insights and advice-on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others-have made the Meditations required reading for statesmen…


Book cover of Enchiridion

Eve Poole Author Of Leadersmithing: Revealing the Trade Secrets of Leadership

From my list on what you really need to know about leadership.

Why am I passionate about this?

It is shocking how many leaders suffer from imposter syndrome, and how little practical advice is out there about how to help. It’s been my mission to identify not only precisely what leaders need to be able to do well, but also how can they learn these things in the most efficient and durable way. Leadersmithing sets out a practical path to mastery and provides the toolkit leaders will really need. After I wrote it, I took on some senior leadership roles of my own. Even before Covid I had stress-tested the wisdom of this book, and post-covid I am even more confident that this leadership book really helps.

Eve's book list on what you really need to know about leadership

Eve Poole Why did Eve love this book?

Epictetus is the Stoic who inspired the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Stoicism is the intellectual origin of cognitive behavioral therapy and a way for leaders to train themselves to focus on the things they can change, rather than breaking their hearts over things over which they have no control. The Enchiridion has the virtue of being much shorter than Aurelius’ Meditations, and contains pithy observations and advice like ‘it is not events that disturb people, it is their judgment concerning them,’ and ‘don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in whichever way they happen: this is the path to peace.’ Leaders need to be good at detachment, and Stoicism can provide valuable tools to help.

By Epictetus, George Long,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although he was born into slavery and endured a permanent physical disability, Epictetus (ca. 50–ca. 130 CE) maintained that all people are free to control their lives and live in harmony with nature. We will always be happy, he argued, if we learn to desire that things should be exactly as they are. After attaining his freedom, Epictetus spent his career teaching philosophy and advising a daily regimen of self-examination. His pupil Arrian later collected and published the master's lecture notes; the Enchiridion, or Manual, is a distillation of Epictetus's teachings and an instruction manual for a tranquil life. Full…


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