10 books like A Stroll With William James

By Jacques Barzun,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like A Stroll With William James. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Inner Citadel

By Pierre Hadot, Michael Chase (translator),

Book cover of The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

The French philosopher and historian, Pierre Hadot, was the first modern author to systematically describe the “spiritual exercises” found in ancient Greek and Roman philosophical texts. This book is the most popular scholarly analysis of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius available. It provides essential information on the underlying structure of Marcus’ writing and how it fits into the broader system of Stoic philosophy. Although an academic work, most nonacademics find Hadot very readable. 

The Inner Citadel

By Pierre Hadot, Michael Chase (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Inner Citadel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are treasured today--as they have been over the centuries--as an inexhaustible source of wisdom. And as one of the three most important expressions of Stoicism, this is an essential text for everyone interested in ancient religion and philosophy. Yet the clarity and ease of the work's style are deceptive. Pierre Hadot, eminent historian of ancient thought, uncovers new levels of meaning and expands our understanding of its underlying philosophy.

Written by the Roman emperor for his own private guidance and self-admonition, the Meditations set forth principles for living a good and just life. Hadot probes…


The Transcendentalists

By Barbara L. Packer,

Book cover of The Transcendentalists

When I began writing about Emerson – not a usual task for a philosopher -- and was trying to figure out who the American Transcendentalists were, Barbara Packer’s brilliantly written study of the movement came to my assistance. She covers it all, from the background in European Biblical criticism and the idea that the sacred books of the world’s religious traditions are forms of poetry, to the Annus Mirabilus of 1836 when Emerson published Nature; to figures like Margaret Fuller, whose electrifying Conversations sparked a homegrown American feminism, Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May), and, of course, Emerson’s young friend, Henry David Thoreau, author of Walden and Resistance to Civil Government.

The Transcendentalists

By Barbara L. Packer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Barbara L. Packer's long essay ""The Transcendentalists"" is widely acknowledged by scholars of nineteenth-century American literary history as the best-written, most comprehensive treatment to date of Transcendentalism. Previously existing only as part of a volume in the magisterial ""Cambridge History of American Literature"", it will now be available for the first time in a stand-alone edition. Packer presents Transcendentalism as a living movement, evolving out of such origins as New England Unitarianism and finding early inspiration in European Romanticism. Transcendentalism changed religious beliefs, philosophical ideas, literary styles, and political allegiances. In addition, it was a social movement whose members collaborated…


Ludwig Wittgenstein

By Ray Monk,

Book cover of Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius

Wittgenstein is the key philosopher of how what we do and what we think combine to give us a view of the world and a set of things we take for granted – our ‘form of life’.  It is almost impossibly hard to read his book, Philosophical Investigations and, in any case, philosophers disagree about what it means.  But Monk entertainingly and interestingly explains his ideas through his biography: he makes Wittgenstein’s later philosophy readily comprehensible. 

Ludwig Wittgenstein

By Ray Monk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Great philosophical biographies can be counted on one hand. Monk's life of Wittgenstein is such a one." The Christian Science Monitor.


Pursuits of Happiness

By Stanley Cavell,

Book cover of Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage

Cavell writes like no one else, and it took me some time before I could catch on, initially through his writing about Wittgenstein. I first heard his name years earlier, from a fellow American studying with me at Oxford. We were both attending what proved to be an intolerably boring and disheartening course on aesthetics. Having a cup of tea after abandoning the course, my new friend told me that his teacher at Harvard, Stanley Cavell, offered a brighter, more hopeful and imaginative version of what might be called aesthetics than the one we were presented with. He was right, and this wonderful book on American film classics is an example. One of the most accessible of Cavell’s books, it includes readings of It Happened One Night (1934), His Girl Friday (1940), and The Philadelphia Story (1940), in which issues of identity, acknowledgment, and the woman’s voice come to the…

Pursuits of Happiness

By Stanley Cavell,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During the '30s and '40s, Hollywood produced a genre of madcap comedies that emphasized reuniting the central couple after divorce or separation. Their female protagonists were strong, independent, and sophisticated. Here, Stanley Cavell names this new genre of American film-"the comedy of remarriage"-and examines seven classic movies for their cinematic techniques and for such varied themes as feminism, liberty, and interdependence.

Included are Adam's Rib, The Awful Truth, Bringing Up Baby, His Girl Friday, It Happened One Night, The Lady Eve, and The Philadelphia Story.


The Principles Of Psychology

By William James,

Book cover of The Principles Of Psychology

In my view, this is the finest book on consciousness ever written. William James was one of the leading minds of late 19th and early 20th century America. His book, published in 1890, was written as a textbook for his psychology class at Harvard. At that time “psychology” was understood to be the study of consciousness. Here James introduces consciousness as a “stream of thought,” an idea that later influenced many 20th century thinkers, including American philosopher Alfred North Whitehead and early quantum physicist Niels Bohr. It is written with an elegance and clarity of style to match that of his brother, the writer Henry James.

James’ broad interests in consciousness, seen in this book, is consistent with the fact that he was an original co-founder of The American Society for Psychical Research, and was deeply interested in mediumship and questions regarding mind beyond the brain.

The Principles Of Psychology

By William James,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This edition of William James' masterwork, The Principles of Psychology, contains his original notes, illustrations, tables and charts which clarify the theory described and arguments made.


Appearing in 1890, The Principles of Psychology was a landmark text which established psychology as a serious scientific discipline. William James' compiled a convincing, lengthy and broad thesis, devoting detail and vigorous analysis in every chapter. The text's comprehensiveness and superb presentation played a pivotal role in bringing the science of mental health closer toward the scholarly mainstream.


The entire book is set out intuitively: there are two volumes, each of which has a…


Alice James

By Jean Strouse,

Book cover of Alice James: A Biography

Alice James changed my life as a writer. It completely opened up the field of biography and pointed the way to the work I’ve been doing for almost four decades: writing women’s lives. Before Alice James, biographies had to be of famous people, usually men. Here was a book about the little sister of the great novelist Henry James and the eminent philosopher William James, a woman who had essentially done nothing with her own talent and brilliance except—luckily!—keep a diary. Jean Strouse read that diary and used it as the entry point for a whole book about the dynamics of an extraordinary family, about women’s choices in 19th century America, about invalidism and suppressed ambition. It’s a riveting psychological tale full of poignance and unexpected heroism.  

Alice James

By Jean Strouse,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Alice James was the youngest child and only girl in a family that produced two of the most brilliant individuals in 19th-century America. Her elder brother, William, became the foremost psychologist of his time and her second brother, Henry, its greatest novelist. Her story reveals a troubled, highly intelligent woman who struggled to extract a sense of meaning and self from a life that had every outward appearance of failure. She was articulate, politically radical, funny, wise, difficult and intensely involved with her brothers and friends. This portrait sheds new light on the history of women, on the nature of…


The Complete Notebooks of Henry James

By Henry James, Leon Edel, Lyall H. Powers

Book cover of The Complete Notebooks of Henry James

It’s fair to say Henry James not only wrote from a stilted, often arcane, time, and that he was verbose to the extreme, and arrogant beyond most contemporary readers’ tolerances. Yet, he created stories that have lasted and served as resources for some of the greatest films of our time: The Golden Bowl, The Wings of the Dove, and Washington Square, for example. The notebooks, in general, are tough reading, and are meant only for reference. But there is insight galore in the thinking of James about writing and the novel that can aid any writer’s career.

The Complete Notebooks of Henry James

By Henry James, Leon Edel, Lyall H. Powers

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Notebooks of Henry James as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

James's biographer and a leading James scholar provide the definitive edition of the writer's notebooks, which were discovered among his papers by Edel in 1937. Of the material here assembled, much was previously unpublished, including pocket diaries and dictated notes.


On Garbage

By John Scanlan,

Book cover of On Garbage

Sh*t happens (bad relationships, business failures, burnt toast). That’s OK, says Scanlan, because making garbage is an essential part of any activity. In fact, you can’t get anywhere, or achieve any kind of personal or intellectual growth, without some detritus. To me, this explains why humans make so much trash of the kind that I’ve spent my life digging up in archaeological sites. And it makes me feel quite OK about spending a day writing stuff that might go straight into the shredder tomorrow…

On Garbage

By John Scanlan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first work to examine the detritus of our culture in its full range; garbage in this sense is not only material waste and ruin, environmental degradation and so on, but also residual or 'broken' knowledge, useless concepts, the remainders of systems of intellectual and cultural thought. In this unique and original work (a kind of intellectual scavenging in its own right) the author shows why garbage is, perversely, the source of all that is valuable. The author considers how Western philosophy, science and technology attained mastery over nature through what can be seen as a prolonged act…


Proust's Way

By Roger Shattuck,

Book cover of Proust's Way: A Field Guide to in Search of Lost Time

"Like the Bible, In Search of Lost Time embodies its own sources, myths, and criticism. Like an archaeological site, the novel has come to stand for a state of civilization.” Roger Shattuck is masterful in reach and insight; his “field guide” is aptly named. The reader journeys alongside him to traverse the vast and incomparable terrain of a seven-volume novel. Full of wit and provocation, he leads us through thick and thin, and best of all, he allows our own reading of the great work to revive within us, illuminating the very experience of reading that Proust so brilliantly mined.

Proust's Way

By Roger Shattuck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Proust's Way as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For any reader who has been humbled by the language, the density, or the sheer weight of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time, Roger Shattuck is a godsend. Winner of the National Book Award for Marcel Proust, a sweeping examination of Proust's life and works, Shattuck now offers a useful and eminently readable guidebook to Proust's epic masterpiece, and a contemplation of memory and consciousness throughout great literature. Here, Shattuck laments Proust's defenselessness against zealous editors, praises some translations, and presents Proust as a novelist whose philosophical gifts were matched only by his irrepressible comic sense. Proust's Way, the…


The Stoic Life

By Tad Brennan,

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

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

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…


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