10 books like A Guide to Rational Living

By Albert Ellis,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like A Guide to Rational Living. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Emperor's Handbook

By Marcus Aurelius, David Hicks, C. Scot Hicks

Book cover of The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of the Meditations

I often joke that Marcus Aurelius is my brother from another mother. Sure, he was a Roman emperor who, if he’d lived, would be 1,900 years old this year, but the things he wrote in Meditations — his book on Stoic philosophy written for himself between 170 and 180 CE — are perfectly on point. I feel like he’s writing from inside my head, struggling with the same challenges I do. Of course, Aurelius is not so much like me as much as he’s like every human on the planet; he just happened to think and express himself in a direct, accessible way. His “epithets” – guiding principles for how he lived his life – inspired me to come up with my own epithets. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

The Emperor's Handbook

By Marcus Aurelius, David Hicks, C. Scot Hicks

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Emperor's Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BEAR IN MIND THAT THE

MEASURE OF A MAN IS THE WORTH OF THE THINGS HE CARES ABOUT.

IF IT IS GOOD TO SAY OR DO

SOMETHING, THEN IT IS

EVEN BETTER TO BE CRITICIZED FOR

HAVING SAID OR DONE IT.

ARE MY GUIDING PRINCIPLES

HEALTHY AND ROBUST? ON THIS HANGS EVERYTHING.

Essayist Matthew Arnold described the man who wrote these words as "the most beautiful figure in history." Possibly so, but he was certainly more than that. Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire at its height, yet he remained untainted by the incalculable wealth and absolute power that had…


Letters from a Stoic

By Lucius Seneca, Robin Campbell (translator),

Book cover of Letters from a Stoic

Seneca was one of the last of the ancient Stoics who lived during the time of Nero. Towards the end of his life, he wrote several letters to a young prefect, Lucilius. These letters were not just meant to be read by Lucilius but the generations to come as well. Seneca’s letters are well written and cover a wide range of topics as they relate to the art of living. These essays are a ‘how to’ guide to living.

Why this translation? Although there are 124 letters in all, modern translators tend to translate just a selection. Robin Campbell is no exception. I chose this translation because it is as good as any and it is not pricey.

Letters from a Stoic

By Lucius Seneca, Robin Campbell (translator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Letters from a Stoic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'It is philosophy that has the duty of protecting us ... without it no one can lead a life free of fear or worry'

For several years of his turbulent life, in which he was dogged by ill health, exile and danger, Seneca was the guiding hand of the Roman Empire. This selection of Seneca's letters shows him upholding the ideals of Stoicism - the wisdom of the self-possessed person immune to life's setbacks - while valuing friendship and courage, and criticizing the harsh treatment of slaves and the cruelties in the gladiatorial arena. The humanity and wit revealed in…


Michel de Montaigne

By Michel de Montaigne, J.M. Cohen (translator),

Book cover of Michel de Montaigne

For me, Montaigne’s thoughts on life and human foibles compare favorably with those of St. Augustine. His insights on the human condition are valuable to anyone inclined to self-reflection on one’s own frailties. Montaigne’s advice on coping with one’s mortality is worth heeding. He counsels that in order to deny death its sting, “…let us deprive death of its strangeness; let us frequent it, let us get used to it; let us have nothing more in our mind than death.” Yet our mortality is only one of many issues he discusses. Montaigne offers up wisdom on everything from fear, prayer and solitude, to the virtues of social intercourse, avoiding unwanted relationships, and educating children.

Michel de Montaigne

By Michel de Montaigne, J.M. Cohen (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Vintage paperback


The Consolation of Philosophy

By Ancius Boethius, V.E. Watts (translator),

Book cover of The Consolation of Philosophy

This was a fellow who tried to do everything right, and yet, in the end, his whole worldly life seemed to go wrong. A senator, a scholar, and an advisor to a king, he found himself trapped in the usual sort of political machinations, and so was sentenced to death. He wrote this book while awaiting his execution. Lady Philosophy speaks to him, and he learns how his character matters more than his circumstances. 

“By Love are peoples too kept bound together by a treaty which they may not break. Love binds with pure affection the sacred ties of wedlock, and speaks its bidding to all trusty friends. O happy race of mortals, if your hearts are ruled as is the Universe, by Love!"

The Consolation of Philosophy

By Ancius Boethius, V.E. Watts (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Boethius was an eminent public figure under the Gothic emperor Theodoric, and an exceptional Greek scholar. When he became involved in a conspiracy and was imprisoned in Pavia, it was to the Greek philosophers that he turned. THE CONSOLATION was written in the period leading up to his brutal execution. It is a dialogue of alternating prose and verse between the ailing prisoner and his 'nurse' Philosophy. Her instruction on the nature of fortune and happiness, good and evil, fate and free will, restore his health and bring him to enlightenment. THE CONSOLATION was extremely popular throughout medieval Europe and…


Cognitive Behavior Therapy

By Judith S. Beck,

Book cover of Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is premised on the belief that our thoughts are at the root of our negative feelings, and to alter those feelings, we need to alter our thoughts. The connection between reason and emotion can be traced back to Stoicism. Hence it is no surprise that the late Dr. Albert Ellis, the developer of the very similar Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, used to have a quote from the Stoic philosopher Epictetus on his webpage. In addition, the Cognitive Distortions which form the heart of CBT can mostly be found in The Art of Thinking (1662) by Antoine Arnauld and Pierre Nicole.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy

By Judith S. Beck,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hundreds of thousands of clinicians and graduate students have relied on this text--now significantly revised with more than 50% new material--to learn the fundamentals of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). Leading expert Judith S. Beck demonstrates how to engage patients, develop a sound case conceptualization, plan individualized treatment, structure sessions, and implement core cognitive, behavioral, and experiential techniques. Throughout the book, extended cases of one client with severe depression and another with depression, anxiety, and borderline personality traits illustrate how a skilled therapist delivers CBT and troubleshoots common difficulties. Adding to the third edition's utility, the companion website features downloadable worksheets…


How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

By Donald Robertson,

Book cover of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

While William Irvine’s book introduced me to Stoic philosophy, Donald took me further into the incredible life of Roman emperor and Stoic Marcus Aurelius. This book takes you deeper into Stoic philosophy. I get asked whom I’d want to have lunch with, dead or alive, and I answer Marcus Aurelius. During his reign he was the most powerful person in the Western hemisphere. History is littered with examples that prove Lord Acton’s quip “Power corrupts; absolutely power corrupts absolutely.” Marcus is a rare exception.

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

By Donald Robertson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked How to Think Like a Roman Emperor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This book is a wonderful introduction to one of history's greatest figures: Marcus Aurelius. His life and this book are a clear guide for those facing adversity, seeking tranquility and pursuing excellence." --Ryan Holiday, bestselling author of The Obstacle is the Way and The Daily Stoic

The life-changing principles of Stoicism taught through the story of its most famous proponent.

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think…


Becoming Myself

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Book cover of Becoming Myself: A Psychiatrist's Memoir

An absolutely gorgeous autobiography that never for a moment bogs down in the details, but soars above the timeline of Yalom's life by concerning itself chiefly with glimmers of insight, events that have lived on in his unconscious and formed him into the healer he became. Like all of Yalom's best work, I found myself reading it slowly, savoring every word. The honesty, if you open yourself to it, and accept that he really is telling you the honest to god truth, smacks you in the face like few authors I've ever encountered. I kept thinking, if I do enough psychotherapy for long enough, I might be able to pull off this degree of self-knowledge.

Becoming Myself

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'When Yalom publishes something - anything - I buy it, and he never disappoints. He's an amazing storyteller, a gorgeous writer, a great, generous, compassionate thinker, and - quite rightly - one of the world's most influential mental healthcare practitioners' Nicola Barker, Guardian Best Books of 2017

'Wonderful, compelling and as insightful about its subject and about the times he lived in as you could hope for. A fabulous read' Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

Irvin D. Yalom has made a career of investigating the lives of others. In Becoming Myself, his long-awaited memoir, he turns his therapeutic…


The Other Side of Silence

By Linda Gask,

Book cover of The Other Side of Silence: A Psychiatrist's Memoir of Depression

This book is a beautiful, inspiring weaving tale of a psychiatrist who has recurrent depression and has worked with people with depression. She doesn’t disguise how hard depression is, she doesn’t patronise, she explains depression from her personal point of view, explores what happened in her childhood, and explains a clinician’s point of view of depression. 

It’s embedded with bucket loads of empathy, compassion, and hope. You hear about the patients she’s helped and you come out feeling humbled and grateful for her telling her story. Very useful for professionals working in psychiatry and mental health but equally useful for those of us with this terrible illness.

The Other Side of Silence

By Linda Gask,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.'

George Eliot, Middlemarch

Having spent her life trying to patch up the souls of others, psychiatrist Linda Gask came to realise that being an expert in depression didn't confer any immunity from it - she had to learn take care of herself, too. Artfully crafted and told with warmth and honesty, this is the story of Linda's journey, interwoven…


Depressive Illness

By Tim Cantopher,

Book cover of Depressive Illness: The Curse of the Strong

This book saved my life. And no, I’m not exaggerating. I read it at the peak of my depression when I’d lost all hope and my emotional pain was at its peak. I spent the whole time going ‘Yes! That’s me, that’s happening to me! Thank god someone understands’. 

It is short, so that you can actually finish it. This is SO important when your concentration has evaporated due to depression. It’s written by a psychiatrist who understands what your brain is doing but also, crucially, tells you what to do and emphasises how serious this illness is.

Depressive Illness

By Tim Cantopher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'People affected by depression tell me this is the most powerful and helpful book ever written on the topic. I keep meeting people who say this book changed their lives.' - Jeremy Vine, BBC Radio 2

Do you have depression?
Firstly, stop blaming yourself.
Secondly, don't struggle on alone - read this book instead. It has helped thousands of people just like you.

Dr Tim Cantopher knows two essential truths about depression and depressive illness.

One: it's strong people who are most vulnerable to it; people whose standards are high, whose ethics are powerful, who want their lives to be…


Provocative Therapy

By Frank Farrelly, Jeff Brandsma,

Book cover of Provocative Therapy

Learning Provocative Therapy with Frank Farrelly over many years changed my life. Well, more truthfully it enabled me to release the humour and directness that is so very characteristic of the culture of my upbringing in Liverpool. I had studied NLP for several years when I met with Frank and he took ‘coaching and therapy’ to an entirely new level in a shockingly different way. There is very little written about this (I plan to address this in a future book!) and I do have a chapter on this approach in my own book. 'To provoke a healing response' - that is how Frank described it. He could also have added to provoke the truth, laughter, and learning. This book is a history of how this approach evolved inevitably filled with stories of the powerful results that this achieved. This can certainly contribute to growing to any age disgracefully (and…

Provocative Therapy

By Frank Farrelly, Jeff Brandsma,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Provocative Therapy will shock and provoke you as it challenges many traditional assumptions about the limits to be respected by professional communicatiors in the same provocative, earthy and humor-producing style that characterizes Provocative Therapy.
This book is a rich source of examples with extensive commentary as it chronicles the adventurous, warm and humorous journey undertaken by Farrelly in his highly successful quest for tools. These tools have gained for him an ever-growing reputation as a highly effective and dramatic practitioner and teacher of his system of psychotherapy. These tools were forged in the experiences of more than 20 years of…


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