100 books like Man's Search for Himself

By Rollo May,

Here are 100 books that Man's Search for Himself fans have personally recommended if you like Man's Search for Himself. 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 Existentialism Is a Humanism

Mike James Ross Author Of Intention: The Surprising Psychology of High Performers

From my list on books to help you find meaning in your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested in purpose and meaning since I snuck into a high school philosophy class when I was 10 years old. Since then, I have not only worked on my own quest for meaning in my life but also helped dozens of others through these types of questions as an executive coach and business leader. I believe that having an answer to the question “why am I here?” is the crucial ingredient to living a happy and fulfilled life, and I’ve been working for years to distill all that I have learned on the subject into a useable and accessible collection of insights.

Mike's book list on books to help you find meaning in your life

Mike James Ross Why did Mike love this book?

This is an amazing and brief explanation of what existentialism is and why it should matter to anyone looking for meaning in their life.

I love that Satre demystifies his philosophy, making it accessible and understandable to anyone. The book is actually the transcription of a lecture he gave, so it is wonderfully readable and full of examples and situations that I learned a lot from.

He also defends existentialism from some of its common critiques, which makes the book even more useful as an introduction. Many of my questions were answered here!

By Jean-Paul Sartre, Carol Macomber (translator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Existentialism Is a Humanism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It was to correct common misconceptions about his thought that Jean-Paul Sartre, the most dominent European intellectual of the post-World War II decades, accepted an invitation to speak on October 29, 1945, at the Club Maintenant in Paris. The unstated objective of his lecture ("Existentialism Is a Humanism") was to expound his philosophy as a form of "existentialism," a term much bandied about at the time. Sartre asserted that existentialism was essentially a doctrine for philosophers, though, ironically, he was about to make it accessible to a general audience. The published text of his lecture quickly became one of the…


Book cover of A Confession

Mike James Ross Author Of Intention: The Surprising Psychology of High Performers

From my list on books to help you find meaning in your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested in purpose and meaning since I snuck into a high school philosophy class when I was 10 years old. Since then, I have not only worked on my own quest for meaning in my life but also helped dozens of others through these types of questions as an executive coach and business leader. I believe that having an answer to the question “why am I here?” is the crucial ingredient to living a happy and fulfilled life, and I’ve been working for years to distill all that I have learned on the subject into a useable and accessible collection of insights.

Mike's book list on books to help you find meaning in your life

Mike James Ross Why did Mike love this book?

What amazes me about A Confession is that here is Tolstoy, one of the giants of world literature, at the top of his game, lamenting that there is no meaning to his life. This made me realize that there is no one immune from this feeling of purposelessness and that there are no prizes, accolades, awards, or other external things that will prevent you from feeling existential angst.

The book also shows how Tolstoy worked through his crisis, and although I do not agree with his conclusions, the path that he takes in the book was very useful for me in my own journey to meaning. 

By Leo Tolstoy, Aylmer Maude (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Despite having written War and Peace and Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, at the age of 51, looked back on his life and considered it a meaningless, regrettable failure. A Confession provides insight into the great Russian writer's movement from the pursuit of aesthetic ideals toward matters of religious and philosophical consequence.
Authentic and genuinely moving, this memoir of midlife spiritual crisis was first distributed in 1872 and marked a turning point in the author's career as a writer: in subsequent years, Tolstoy would write almost exclusively about religious life, especially devotion among the peasantry.
Generations of readers have been inspired…


Book cover of The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living

Mike James Ross Author Of Intention: The Surprising Psychology of High Performers

From my list on books to help you find meaning in your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested in purpose and meaning since I snuck into a high school philosophy class when I was 10 years old. Since then, I have not only worked on my own quest for meaning in my life but also helped dozens of others through these types of questions as an executive coach and business leader. I believe that having an answer to the question “why am I here?” is the crucial ingredient to living a happy and fulfilled life, and I’ve been working for years to distill all that I have learned on the subject into a useable and accessible collection of insights.

Mike's book list on books to help you find meaning in your life

Mike James Ross Why did Mike love this book?

This is a little-known book that delves deeper and more effectively into the challenges of defining oneself than any other book I have read.

The book is an attempt by a famous critical theorist to speak to the common person who is struggling with the various pieces of advice and guidance that they receive from different sources. It is more complex and difficult than the others on the list, but I got so much out of it. 

By Mari Ruti,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Should we feel inadequate when we fail to be healthy, balanced, and well-adjusted? Is it realistic or even desirable to strive for such an existential equilibrium? Condemning our current cultural obsession with cheerfulness and "positive thinking," Mari Ruti calls for a resurrection of character that honors our more eccentric frequencies and argues that sometimes a tormented and anxiety-ridden life can also be rewarding. Ruti critiques the search for personal meaning and pragmatic attempts to normalize human beings' unruly and idiosyncratic natures. Exposing the tragic banality of a happy life commonly lived, she instead emphasizes the advantages of a lopsided life…


Book cover of The Mandarins

Mike James Ross Author Of Intention: The Surprising Psychology of High Performers

From my list on books to help you find meaning in your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been interested in purpose and meaning since I snuck into a high school philosophy class when I was 10 years old. Since then, I have not only worked on my own quest for meaning in my life but also helped dozens of others through these types of questions as an executive coach and business leader. I believe that having an answer to the question “why am I here?” is the crucial ingredient to living a happy and fulfilled life, and I’ve been working for years to distill all that I have learned on the subject into a useable and accessible collection of insights.

Mike's book list on books to help you find meaning in your life

Mike James Ross Why did Mike love this book?

What I love about The Mandarins is that in describing the life of de Beauvoir, Sartre, Camus and their contemporaries in Paris at the end of the Second World War, it provided me with greater insight into how an existentialist approach to meaning in life can be put into practice.

I also really enjoyed the book for the quality of its writing and its interesting plot. It is fiction, but so close to what actually happened as to almost be history.  

By Simone de Beauvoir,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In her most famous novel, The Mandarins, Simone de Beauvoir takes an unflinching look at Parisian intellectual society at the end of World War II. In fictionally relating the stories of those around her - Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Arthur Koestler, Nelson Algren - de Beauvoir dissects the emotional and philosophical currents of her time. At once an engrossing drama and an intriguing political tale, The Mandarins is the emotional odyssey of a woman torn between her inner desires and her public life. "Much more than a roman a clef . . . a moving and engrossing novel." - New…


Book cover of Professional Troublemaker: The Fear-Fighter Manual

Gia De Cadenet Author Of Not the Plan

From my list on helping romance lovers remember who they are.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a long-time expat in France, a creative and a Black woman, I get othered and rejected a lot. I’ve had to learn how to own my story – of starting over, of building something from nothing, of remembering where I’ve been, and reminding myself of where I’m going. I had to learn to reject the labels that others want to put on me and draft my own personal hype mantra then embellish it with a little bombshell sparkle. The books I’ve chosen are meant to entertain while giving you the chance to remind yourself of who you are and who you can choose to be.  

Gia's book list on helping romance lovers remember who they are

Gia De Cadenet Why did Gia love this book?

Sometimes things happen in life that bring us to our knees – illness, relationships fail, job losses.

And we may feel small, overwhelmed, incapable. In this awesome book about living audaciously, Jones advises the reader to write their own oriki, or personal hype mantra.

When we are at our lowest, we need to look back and see how far we’ve come, remind ourselves of who we were, who we are, and who we will be.

Just as we have the power to write our own orikis, we have the power to write our own next steps. That’s pretty bad-ass.

By Luvvie Ajayi Jones,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
From the New York Times bestselling author of I'm Judging You, a hilarious and transformational book about how to tackle fear--that everlasting hater--and audaciously step into lives, careers, and legacies that go beyond even our wildest dreams

Luvvie Ajayi Jones is known for her trademark wit, warmth, and perpetual truth-telling. But even she's been challenged by the enemy of progress known as fear. She was once afraid to call herself a writer, and nearly skipped out on doing a TED talk that changed her life because of imposter syndrome. As she shares in Professional Troublemaker,…


Book cover of Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious

Valerie Tiberius Author Of What Do You Want Out of Life? A Philosophical Guide to Figuring Out What Matters

From my list on understanding what's really important.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I entered my fifties, I was very surprised to discover that I didn’t have my life all figured out. This was especially surprising since the nature of a good human life has been my research topic for decades. What I have learned, from philosophy and from my collaborations with psychologists, is that it’s always going to be a process. We have to figure out what matters and how to get it, we have to navigate value conflicts, and we have to accept that the answers will change as our circumstances change. The books I’ve recommended aren’t guides to life, but I think they’re great for understanding the process. 

Valerie's book list on understanding what's really important

Valerie Tiberius Why did Valerie love this book?

To achieve the things that matter to us, we have to know what they are.

We tend to think we know ourselves really well – certainly better than anyone else knows us. But in this book, psychologist Timothy Wilson presents fascinating evidence that we don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do.

In particular, we tend to rationalize our choices after the fact in ways that don’t actually reflect our deeper, emotional state.

This book opened my mind to the idea that we need to “look under the hood” to figure out what matters to us most. 

By Timothy D. Wilson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Strangers to Ourselves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Know thyself," a precept as old as Socrates, is still good advice. But is introspection the best path to self-knowledge? What are we trying to discover, anyway? In an eye-opening tour of the unconscious, as contemporary psychological science has redefined it, Timothy D. Wilson introduces us to a hidden mental world of judgments, feelings, and motives that introspection may never show us.

This is not your psychoanalyst's unconscious. The adaptive unconscious that empirical psychology has revealed, and that Wilson describes, is much more than a repository of primitive drives and conflict-ridden memories. It is a set of pervasive, sophisticated mental…


Book cover of The Body Image Book for Girls: Love Yourself and Grow Up Fearless

Harriet Brown Author Of Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight—and What We Can Do About It

From my list on weight and body image.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been reporting on and writing about food, eating, health, and body image for the last 25 years. So much of what we’re taught about those issues, it turns out, is wrong, inaccurate, and often damaging. I’ve made a point of uncovering the truth in those areas and to write about it in ways that help other people through this difficult terrain. My writing philosophy can be summed up in six words: I write so I’m not alone. And, I would add, so you’re not alone, either.

Harriet's book list on weight and body image

Harriet Brown Why did Harriet love this book?

There’s been a lot of research on how girls fall prey to diet culture, lose their self-confidence, disappear into disordered eating/eating disorders/low self-esteem at puberty. A lot of that is triggered by living in a culture that’s so messed up around food, eating, and body image. So I’m always looking for tools to give girls to help them navigate that treacherous time, and this is one of the books I like to recommend.

By Charlotte Markey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Body Image Book for Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is worrying to think that most girls feel dissatisfied with their bodies, and that this can lead to serious problems including depression and eating disorders. Can some of those body image worries be eased? Body image expert and psychology professor Dr Charlotte Markey helps girls aged 9-15 to understand, accept, and appreciate their bodies. She provides all the facts on puberty, mental health, self-care, why diets are bad news, dealing with social media, and everything in-between. Girls will find answers to questions they always wanted to ask, the truth behind many body image myths, and real-life stories from girls…


Book cover of The Nature of Personal Reality: A Seth Book

Barbara Wainwright Author Of The Power of Life Coaching Volume 3: Manifesting Transformation in Financial, Professional, Emotional, Spiritual, Wellness and Relationship Aspects

From my list on your journey to spiritual enlightenment.

Why am I passionate about this?

Certified Master Life Coach and CEO of Wainwright Global, Barbara Wainwright is known as the most sought-after teacher in the coaching industry. She is famous for training and certifying over 6,500 professional coaches worldwide since 2006 and for empowering individuals to actualize their life purpose, live inspired lives, and connect with their true passion. Barbara is an international speaker, author, and educator with 3 books available on Amazon.com. I have been seeking spiritual enlightenment and personal growth all of my adult life. Now I am sharing some of my strengths through my podcast and video series Show Up For God and God Will Show Up For You in Miraculous Ways.

Barbara's book list on your journey to spiritual enlightenment

Barbara Wainwright Why did Barbara love this book?

This book was the beginning of my spiritual journey. 

Accepting that we are responsible for every aspect of our lives was a hard pill to swallow. Life happens for us, not to us. What is the purpose? The purpose (I believe) is to learn unconditional love and acceptance. 

Does that mean we have to be around people that hurt us? No. It means to accept people for who they are and move on.  

This book challenged me and my way of thinking. “Your thoughts create your reality” is explained in detail in this book. I’m grateful that this book was written.

By Jane Roberts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Late in 1963, Jane Roberts and her husband were experimenting with a Ouija board when a personality calling himself 'Seth' began forming messages. Soon, Miss Roberts began passing easily into trance - her gestures, her eyes, her voice 'borrowed' by Seth himself. Now for those who want to put his theories to use, Seth has dictated this new book, The Nature of Personal Reality explains how unquestioned belief structure your experience - and how simply listing them can help remove barriers you have uknowingly thrown in your way. Along with other specific exercises for transforming your personal reality, Seth spells…


Book cover of Art Is a Way of Knowing: A Guide to Self-Knowledge and Spiritual Fulfillment through Creativity

Rachel Rose Author Of Creating Stillness: Mindful Art Practices and Stories for Navigating Anxiety, Stress, and Fear

From my list on helping you know through creativity.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been making messes with paint, string, and words, as well as in love, mothering, and in virtually every other way imaginable my whole life. Eventually, an expertise began to grow, and the confusion in my life began to make sense through my creations, while at the same time, the seemingly irrelevant words and textures I was making started to tell me something about my life. Eventually, my lived experience and training in the Expressive Arts Therapies have led me to the roles of teacher, educator, and contemplative artist. If we pay attention to what we express and how we express things, we can find our way through any mess we find ourselves in.

Rachel's book list on helping you know through creativity

Rachel Rose Why did Rachel love this book?

As an anxious mother, I struggled to understand how my creative practice could help me through this trying stage of life.

This book was the first key to help me unlock how my creative practice could support my healing and help me learn more about myself. But most importantly, it gave me permission to proclaim that I could know and understand the world through my intimate creative expressions.

Part memoir, part instruction, this book provided the road map for who I am today: a woman who welcomes her suffering into the creative realm and watches it transform into insight.

By Pat B. Allen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Art Is a Way of Knowing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An expert in art therapy offers this “wonderful” guide “for anyone, artistic or not, who is interested in using art to know more about himself or herself” (Library Journal)
 
Making art—giving form to the images that arise in our mind's eye, our dreams, and our everyday lives—is a form of spiritual practice through which knowledge of ourselves can ripen into wisdom. This book offers encouragement for everyone to explore art-making in this spirit of self-discovery—plus practical instructions on material, methods, and activities, such as ways to:

   •  Discover a personal myth or story
   •  Recognize patterns and themes in one's…


Book cover of Painting the Black

Dan Largent Author Of Before We Ever Spoke

From my list on baseball is part of the theme.

Why am I passionate about this?

Before he became a bestselling author with his debut novel, Before We Ever Spoke, Dan Largent spent the better part of two decades as a high school baseball coach. In 2010, he guided Olmsted Falls High School to its first-ever State Final Four and was subsequently named Greater Cleveland Division I Coach of the Year. Dan stepped away from his duties as a baseball coach in 2017 to spend more time with his wife, April, and their three children Brooke, Grace, and Luke. He has, however, remained close to the game he loves by turning doubles into singles as a member of Cleveland’s finest 35 and over baseball league.

Dan's book list on baseball is part of the theme

Dan Largent Why did Dan love this book?

There was no way that I could ever put a book list together and NOT recommend one of Carl Deuker’s books. This book is aimed at the Young Adult crowd, but I first read it as an adult because Carl was my favorite author as a kid and I also happen to teach students in the YA crowd. 

Carl is the master of weaving complex societal issues and internal conflicts into plots that revolve around athletics. In Painting the Black he does just that as the main character, Ryan Ward, is faced with a choice that I am sure many readers can relate to.

Whether you are looking for a quick and poignant read, or you have a YA student at home who loves sports, Painting the Black is a must-read. 

By Carl Deuker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Painting the Black as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

In his senior year of high school, late bloomer Ryan Ward has just begun to feel the magic of baseball—the thrill of catching a wicked slider, of throwing a runner out, of training hard and playing hard. His friend Josh, the star of the team, has helped Ryan push his limits. But when Josh clearly pushes the limits too far, Ryan is faced with a heartbreaking dilemma: he must choose between his love for the game and his sense of integrity.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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