95 books like Existentialism Is a Humanism

By Jean-Paul Sartre, Carol Macomber,

Here are 95 books that Existentialism Is a Humanism fans have personally recommended if you like Existentialism Is a Humanism. 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 Nicomachean Ethics

Todd May Author Of A Significant Life: Human Meaning in a Silent Universe

From my list on what makes a life meaningful.

Why am I passionate about this?

Todd May has been teaching philosophy for over thirty years. He is the author of sixteen books of philosophy, many of which have been praised for their clarity and relevance to people reflecting on their lives. He was also a philosophical advisor to the hit television sit-com The Good Place.

Todd's book list on what makes a life meaningful

Todd May Why did Todd love this book?

This may not be the best place to start, but sooner or later you’ll want to land here. Aristotle’s view of a good life, one that involves developing virtuous ways of being, is surprisingly contemporary. And unlike a lot of contemporary philosophy, he has deep reflections on the role of friendship in creating a worthwhile life.

By Aristotle, David Mills Daniel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Presents a support resource for students being introduced to philosophical texts and to philosophy in general. This work contains a glossary of terms relating to the philosopher's use of terms.


Book cover of Beyond Good And Evil

Felipe G.A. Moreira Author Of The Politics of Metaphysics

From my list on the relation between politics and metaphysics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a philosophy post-doc at Unesp and a poet who has always felt that politics is not the exclusive business of politicians; that violence is not the exclusive business of warfare or of “vulgar” people, say, drunkards in bars. Violence, I have felt while doing philosophy in the USA, Brazil, Germany, and France, is likewise expressed by well-educated and apparently “peaceful” philosophers who are engaged in implicit politics and practice “subtle” violence. To handle the relation between politics and metaphysics is to do justice to this feeling. The Politics of Metaphysics, I hope, does that. I believe that though more tacitly, the same is done by this list’s books. 

Felipe's book list on the relation between politics and metaphysics

Felipe G.A. Moreira Why did Felipe love this book?

What I love about this book is the fact that it indicates that an apparently apolitical metaphilosophical assumption agrees with an upfront right-wing policy.

The assumption is that when tackling disputes in metaphysics, philosophers should aim to achieve consensus. The policy is that of pressing one to respect the allegedly rationally undeniable standards of a “herd,” as Nietzsche puts it. While problematizing this view, Nietzsche argues that libertarian tendencies of expressing one’s uniqueness are more valuable than more egalitarian tendencies of following herds; to provoke dissensus would then be more valuable than to reach consensus.

This stance has influenced me, even though while problematizing Nietzsche’s works through Carnap’s (and vice-versa), I claim that libertarian and egalitarian tendencies are equally valuable so that one should aim for a balance between them.

By Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Beyond Good And Evil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Unabridged English value reproduction of Beyond Good And Evilby Friedrich Nietzsche and translated by Helen Zimmern. This philosophical classic is a must read because of its fearless approach to how knowledge is formed.

Beyond Good And Evil asks, is truth absolute? Do humans invent ways to fortify already held views or truly seek the truth? Are the powerful more ‘right’ than the weak? Or is Nietzsche writing down page after page to hear himself talk?

Let the reader decide in this slim volume with full text and footnotes, produced at an affordable price.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

PREFACE              3
CHAPTER I.…


Book cover of Meaning in Life and Why It Matters

Todd May Author Of A Significant Life: Human Meaning in a Silent Universe

From my list on what makes a life meaningful.

Why am I passionate about this?

Todd May has been teaching philosophy for over thirty years. He is the author of sixteen books of philosophy, many of which have been praised for their clarity and relevance to people reflecting on their lives. He was also a philosophical advisor to the hit television sit-com The Good Place.

Todd's book list on what makes a life meaningful

Todd May Why did Todd love this book?

This is the most influential book on my own thinking about meaningfulness in life. Wolf's idea that a meaningful life is distinct from both a happy life and a moral one—although there can be overlapping with these—is both simple and profound. And, unlike many contemporary philosophers, her writing is clear and accessible.

By Susan Wolf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Meaning in Life and Why It Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Most people, including philosophers, tend to classify human motives as falling into one of two categories: the egoistic or the altruistic, the self-interested or the moral. According to Susan Wolf, however, much of what motivates us does not comfortably fit into this scheme. Often we act neither for our own sake nor out of duty or an impersonal concern for the world. Rather, we act out of love for objects that we rightly perceive as worthy of love--and it is these actions that give meaning to our lives. Wolf makes a compelling case that, along with happiness and morality, this…


Book cover of Memoirs of Hadrian

Larry Mellman Author Of The Man With Sapphire Eyes

From my list on historical fiction with a twist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always loved historical fiction as a reader, but my passion to write it caught fire during the years I lived in Venice, Italy, when I discovered the curious institution of the ballot boy within the Byzantine complexities of the thousand-year Venetian Republic. Since ballot boys were randomly chosen over a period of six hundred years, choosing my particular Doge and ballot boy required a survey of the entire field before I circled in on Venice, 1368, IMHO the peak brilliance of that maritime empire. It is a peculiarity of history that the names of all 130 doges of Venice are recorded, but none of their ballot boys are mentioned. The challenge was irresistible. 

Larry's book list on historical fiction with a twist

Larry Mellman Why did Larry love this book?

It’s not Hadrian’s love affair with the beautiful boy Antinous that swept me off my feet, nor the way Hadrian makes him a god after his mysterious death and builds a city dedicated to worshiping him.

That’s only a small part of a book overflowing with the emperor’s interior life, his fears and doubts and dreams. Yourcenar spent most of her life on and off writing this book, her life’s work. Filled with the exhilaration and perplexity of achieving absolute power and then holding onto it, we experience Hadrian as a profoundly paradoxical genius from the inside out. 

By Marguerite Yourcenar, Grace Frick,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Memoirs of Hadrian as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Framed as a letter from the Roman Emperor Hadrian to his successor, Marcus Aurelius, Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian is translated from the French by Grace Frick with an introduction by Paul Bailey in Penguin Modern Classics.

In her magnificent novel, Marguerite Yourcenor recreates the life and death of one of the great rulers of the ancient world. The Emperor Hadrian, aware his demise is imminent, writes a long valedictory letter to Marcus Aurelius, his future successor. The Emperor meditates on his past, describing his accession, military triumphs, love of poetry and music, and the philosophy that informed his powerful…


Book cover of Being and Time

Lee Braver Author Of Heidegger: Thinking of Being

From my list on everything you want to know on existentialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of philosophy because when I got to college, philosophy sounded like what Gandalf would study—the closest thing we have to the study of magic. It turns out, I wasn’t far from the mark. Philosophy shows you entire dimensions to the world that you never noticed because they exist at weird angles, and you have to change your way of thinking to see them. Entering them and seeing the world from those perspectives transforms everything. A great work of philosophy is like having the lights turn on in an annex of your mind you didn’t know was there, like an out-of-mind experience—or perhaps, an in-your-mind-for-the-first-time experience.

Lee's book list on everything you want to know on existentialism

Lee Braver Why did Lee love this book?

If aliens land and ask me what it’s like to be a human, I’ll give them Heidegger’s first book, Being and Time. Of course, that might prompt them to destroy all humans out of frustration at the difficulty of his writing, but if they persevere, they will find the best description of what it’s like to live out your time on this planet (One Hundred Years of Solitude comes in second).

By Martin Heidegger, John MacQuarrie (translator), Edward S. Robinson (translator)

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Being and Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A knowledge of Heidegger's Sein und Zeit is essential for anyone who wishes to understand a great deal of recent continental work in theology as well as philosophy. Yet until this translation first appeared in 1962, this fundamental work of one of the most influential European thinkers of the century remained inaccessible to English readers. In fact the difficulty of Heidegger's thought was considered to be almost insuperable in the medium of a foreign language, especially English. That this view was unduly pessimistic is proved by the impressive work of John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson who have succeeded in clothing…


Book cover of The Metamorphosis

Luke Coulter Author Of City of Mann

From my list on seeing the world how it’s never been seen before.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in Ireland with a lot of Pink Floyd records, an active imagination, and no TV, I was almost destined to have a seemingly endless number of questions about the universe, our existence, and the purpose of it all. Finding that much could be learned from the tip of a pen (including that blue flavor is the best one) I began to read and make shapes and draw words of my own. Then, questioning the reasons I had questions, and seeking what could not be found, I found the answer to a single one—that there is far more to this world than we can ever see, and we indeed, are not alone.

Luke's book list on seeing the world how it’s never been seen before

Luke Coulter Why did Luke love this book?

His physicality transformed, Gregor awakes no longer a man, but instead, a giant grotesque creature.

As I read this masterpiece, I too understood how it is, to appear not how I desire. To sound different, to look different, to appear different than the paragon of myself I have created in my mind. And to strive to be more than this body I inhabit can give. But is this not the condition of us all?

A truly brilliant Kafka, this book created a world that is my own, yet unreal, and my reality yet a waking dream.

By Franz Kafka, Stanley Corngold (translator),

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked The Metamorphosis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

With this  startling, bizarre, yet surprisingly funny first sentence, Kafka begins his masterpiece, The  Metamorphosis. It is the story of a  young man who, transformed overnight into a giant  beetlelike insect, becomes an object of disgrace to  his family, an outsider in his own home, a  quintessentially alienated man. A harrowing—though  absurdly comic—meditation on human feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and isolation, The  Metamorphosis has taken its place as one  of the most widely read and influential works of  twentieth-century…


Book cover of What Is Existentialism?

Zachary Austin Behlok Author Of Manipulating Nature: An Existential Essay Regarding Humanity's Impact on the World Around Us

From my list on finding meaning within your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long as I can remember, it has been of the utmost importance to find meaning in life, both for myself and for everyone else sharing this planet. I have spent much of my time over the course of the past few years pushing for a continued level of discourse in the field of philosophy. I have studied at and attended various educational institutions including Eastern Florida State College, The Florida Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and The University of Cambridge – the studies at such range between philosophy, psychology, behavior analysis, and engineering. I hope that my work will be of some assistance in pushing humanity towards positive progress.

Zachary Austin's book list on finding meaning within your life

Zachary Austin Behlok Why did Zachary Austin love this book?

This book is more or less a collection of excerpts from some of Simone de Beauvoir’s best works. In this text, her foundations in the field of existentialism are laid forth for the reader to read and interpret very easily. These excerpts provide the reader with an analysis on the field in a more fictional way, as opposed to much of the other works relating to such, yet maintain the same, if not a higher, level of emphasis on the positive influences it can bring about in any given individual’s life.

By Simone de Beauvoir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Is Existentialism? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'It is possible for man to snatch the world from the darkness of absurdity'

How should we think and act in the world? These writings on the human condition by one of the twentieth century's great philosophers explore the absurdity of our notions of good and evil, and show instead how we make our own destiny simply by being.

One of twenty new books in the bestselling Penguin Great Ideas series. This new selection showcases a diverse list of thinkers who have helped shape our world today, from anarchists to stoics, feminists to prophets, satirists to Zen Buddhists.


Book cover of The Undiscovered Self: The Dilemma of the Individual in Modern Society

Zachary Austin Behlok Author Of Manipulating Nature: An Existential Essay Regarding Humanity's Impact on the World Around Us

From my list on finding meaning within your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

For as long as I can remember, it has been of the utmost importance to find meaning in life, both for myself and for everyone else sharing this planet. I have spent much of my time over the course of the past few years pushing for a continued level of discourse in the field of philosophy. I have studied at and attended various educational institutions including Eastern Florida State College, The Florida Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and The University of Cambridge – the studies at such range between philosophy, psychology, behavior analysis, and engineering. I hope that my work will be of some assistance in pushing humanity towards positive progress.

Zachary Austin's book list on finding meaning within your life

Zachary Austin Behlok Why did Zachary Austin love this book?

In this text, the famed clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung, gives his analysis on the world around us, in a way that aims to provide the reader with a higher level of understanding of the effects of such a world on our minds as individuals. For me, this piece really highlighted the ways in which the governmental powers above us have a grasp on the ways in which we live our lives, and are subsequently affected mentally. 

By C.G. Jung,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Written three years before his death, The Undiscovered Self combines acuity with concision in masterly fashion and is Jung at his very best. Offering clear and crisp insights into some of his major theories, such as the duality of human nature, the unconscious, human instinct and spirituality, Jung warns against the threats of totalitarianism and political and social propaganda to the free-thinking individual. As timely now as when it was first written, Jung's vision is a salutary reminder of why we should not become passive members of the herd.

With a new foreword by Sonu Shamdasani.


Book cover of Concluding Unscientific Postscript

Lee Braver Author Of Heidegger: Thinking of Being

From my list on everything you want to know on existentialism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of philosophy because when I got to college, philosophy sounded like what Gandalf would study—the closest thing we have to the study of magic. It turns out, I wasn’t far from the mark. Philosophy shows you entire dimensions to the world that you never noticed because they exist at weird angles, and you have to change your way of thinking to see them. Entering them and seeing the world from those perspectives transforms everything. A great work of philosophy is like having the lights turn on in an annex of your mind you didn’t know was there, like an out-of-mind experience—or perhaps, an in-your-mind-for-the-first-time experience.

Lee's book list on everything you want to know on existentialism

Lee Braver Why did Lee love this book?

How many bibliographical jokes have you ever heard, well, read? This book has jokes in its Table of Contents, its title, its sub-title—in the author attribution! And at the end, the Postscript to this Postscript takes the entire thing back—twice!—although, as Kierkegaard says, to write something and take it back is not the same as not writing it. He wants to affect the reader, not just pass along abstruse theories. Kierkegaard criticizes the basic mindset of philosophy that pretends to have a God’s-eye view of reality when really we’re forced to make decisions of crucial importance, in precarious circumstances, with limited information, never knowing if it was the right one, perpetually living out our lives suspended over 70,000 fathoms of water. 

By Søren Kierkegaard, Walter Lowrie (translator), Joseph Campbell (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In Philosophical Fragments the pseudonymous author Johannes Climacus explored the question: What is required in order to go beyond Socratic recollection of eternal ideas already possessed by the learner? Written as an afterword to this work, Concluding Unscientific Postscript is on one level a philosophical jest, yet on another it is Climacus's characterization of the subjective thinker's relation to the truth of Christianity. At once ironic, humorous, and polemical, this work takes on the "unscientific" form of a mimical-pathetical-dialectical compilation of ideas. Whereas the movement in the earlier pseudonymous writings is away from the aesthetic, the movement in Postscript is…


Book cover of The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs

Charles Spinosa Author Of Leadership as Masterpiece Creation: What Business Leaders Can Learn from the Humanities About Moral Risk-Taking

From my list on creating thoughtful good lives in our current age.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a freshman in my Columbia University humanities class, I remember when we debated whether Achilles did the right thing in fighting Hector when Achilles could have led a peaceful life as a shepherd. I was arguing that only in risking our lives could we fully live them. A senior challenged me, saying, “I’ve struggled here for four years. I want a life of ease.” That debate has guided me through my years as a professor of English literature and philosophy and then as a management consultant. Only in conversations over the good life do admirable ways of treating customers, managing employees, or competing come to life. 

Charles' book list on creating thoughtful good lives in our current age

Charles Spinosa Why did Charles love this book?

This is the most readable philosophy book I know. Nietzsche wrote it in his brilliantly witty, epigrammatic style. Each episode is about a page long.

Concentrate on "Book Four." There, Nietzsche famously tells us that God is dead. Find out what he really means. (We criticize everything and can feel no true reverence.) Consequently, we seek convenience and flexibility over and over again. Stunningly, Nietzsche sets out four contrarian, incompatible good lives. (Philosophers have always sought to define one good life.)

If you read nothing else, read epigrams 290, 295, and 303: "The life of constant revision to perfect a style," "The life of short stories," "The life of brilliant improvisation," and "The risk-taking life." I use Nietzsche’s model of good lives to help business leaders restore their businesses and themselves.

By Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Kaufmann (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The book Nietzsche called "the most personal of all my books." It was here that he first proclaimed the death of God—to which a large part of the book is devoted—and his doctrine of the eternal recurrence.

Walter Kaufmann's commentary, with its many quotations from previously untranslated letters, brings to life Nietzsche as a human being and illuminates his philosophy. The book contains some of Nietzsche's most sustained discussions of art and morality, knowledge and truth, the intellectual conscience and the origin of logic.

Most of the book was written just before Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the last part five years…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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