100 books like Man’s Search for Meaning

By Viktor Frankl,

Here are 100 books that Man’s Search for Meaning fans have personally recommended if you like Man’s Search for Meaning. 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 The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Robert L. Tsai Author Of Demand the Impossible: One Lawyer's Pursuit of Equal Justice for All

From my list on the role of race and poverty in the criminal justice system.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a law professor at Boston University who has studied and written about constitutional law, democracy, and inequality for over 20 years. I’m troubled by America’s rise to become the world’s leader in imprisoning its own citizens and the continued use of inhumane policing and punishment practices. These trends must be better understood before we can come up with a form of politics that can overcome our slide into a darker version of ourselves. 

Robert's book list on the role of race and poverty in the criminal justice system

Robert L. Tsai Why did Robert love this book?

I found Michelle Alexander’s book a potent reminder that the past is never really past, and that older practices of racial subjugation and use of the criminal law against minorities can be repurposed in later eras to serve the same or related ends.

The book raises the question of whether Jim Crow has really ended in all institutions in American society.

By Michelle Alexander,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The New Jim Crow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists motivated by Michelle Alexander's unforgettable argument that 'we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.'

Book cover of The Birth and Death of Meaning

Jeff Greenberg Author Of The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life

From my list on the core desires that guide human behavior.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Regents Professor of Psychology at the University of Arizona. Ever since I was a child growing up in the South Bronx, I have been interested in why people are so driven to believe they are right and good, and why there is so much prejudice in the world. This has led to me to a lifelong exploration of the basic motivations that guide people’s actions, and how these motivations influence how people view themselves and others, and the goals they pursue.

Jeff's book list on the core desires that guide human behavior

Jeff Greenberg Why did Jeff love this book?

This is to me is the best book ever written for understanding what human beings are, how we are similar to and different from other animal species, how we develop from helpless newborns to fully functioning adults, and what we are striving for in our lives. Most nonfiction books make a point and then repeat it over and over with examples and anecdotes. In contrast, The Birth and Death of Meaning begins with evolution and progresses logically from its first page to its last. When you finish this book, you will have a much better understanding of yourself, the people in your life, historical and current events, and problems ranging from anxiety and depression to interpersonal conflict to prejudice.  

By Ernest Becker,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Uses the disciplines of psychology, anthropology, sociology and psychiatry to explain what makes people act the way they do.

Book cover of The Myth of Sisyphus

Peter S. Fosl Author Of The Philosopher's Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods

From my list on starting out in philosophy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a philosopher who’s taught mostly undergraduates for over thirty years at small liberal arts colleges in the US, and I’ve held research fellowships at the University of Edinburgh and Williams College. I’ve co-authored three “toolkit” books – The Philosopher’s Toolkit, The Ethics Toolkit, and The Critical Thinking Toolkit. My more scholarly work, however, has focused on skepticism, for example in Hume’s Scepticism. I also like to write about pop culture, especially for collections like my Big Lebowski and Philosophy. Fundamentally, though, I’m just a lover of dialectic and an explorer in the world of ideas. Nothing, for me, is more enjoyable.

Peter's book list on starting out in philosophy

Peter S. Fosl Why did Peter love this book?

This was the first book from the very first philosophy class I took in college (at Bucknell University in 1981), and it had me from its very first sentence: “There is only one truly important philosophical question, and that is suicide.” You know, the big stuff: Is life worth living? What gives it meaning? How ought we to engage the world and others, especially in the face of the apparently meaningless universe in which we’ve been thrown. Existentialist Camus served in the French resistance against the Nazis in World War II and would win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957. In these pages, the remarkable man and the remarkable life he lived shows. 

By Albert Camus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

NOBEL PRIZE WINNER • An internationally acclaimed author delivers one of the most influential works of the twentieth century, showing a way out of despair and reaffirming the value of existence.

Influenced by works such as Don Juan and the novels of Kafka, these essays begin with a meditation on suicide—the question of living or not living in a universe devoid of order or meaning. With lyric eloquence, Albert Camus brilliantly presents a crucial exposition of existentialist thought.

Book cover of A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster

Daniel P. Aldrich Author Of Building Resilience: Social Capital in Post-Disaster Recovery

From my list on the importance of community during disasters.

Why am I passionate about this?

We moved to New Orleans in July 2005. We had six weeks in our first home, filling it with furniture, buying a new car, and taking advantage of my first job. When Hurricane Katrina collapsed the levees holding back the nearby lakes, our home – and those of 80% of the city – filled with water. As I waited for FEMA and insurance to help us, I saw instead it was our friends, friends of friends, and faith-based organizations that helped us get back on our feet. Using our own experiences as a start, I traveled to India and Japan to study how communities around the world survived and thrived during shocks. 

Daniel's book list on the importance of community during disasters

Daniel P. Aldrich Why did Daniel love this book?

We have all seen disaster movies and TV shows with people screaming and running around as the earthquake, tsunami, or Godzilla strikes. But Rebecca Solnit argues instead that normal people don’t panic during disasters – it is the elite, the wealthy, and the decision-makers who lose their minds. For normal people, altruism and mutual aid help all of us get through shocks, whether fire, car accident or COVID19. Her writing is excellent and she uses examples across time and space, ranging from the San Francisco earthquake at the start of the 20th century to the Mexico City earthquake at its end.

By Rebecca Solnit,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Paradise Built in Hell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"The freshest, deepest, most optimistic account of human nature I've come across in years."
-Bill McKibben

The most startling thing about disasters, according to award-winning author Rebecca Solnit, is not merely that so many people rise to the occasion, but that they do so with joy. That joy reveals an ordinarily unmet yearning for community, purposefulness, and meaningful work that disaster often provides. A Paradise Built in Hell is an investigation of the moments of altruism, resourcefulness, and generosity that arise amid disaster's grief and disruption and considers their implications for everyday life. It points to a new vision of…

Book cover of As a Man Thinketh

Stephen McGarvey Author Of Ignite a Shift: Engaging Minds, Guiding Emotions and Driving Behavior

From my list on the power of ideas and positive thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wasn’t always a reader. Diagnosed with a learning disorder in elementary school, I hated reading and school. Eventually, I discovered my passion for psychology, neurolinguistics, and persuasion and influence, and have now become a lifelong reader! Through my boutique consulting firm Solutions In Mind, my colleagues and I have been coaching executive teams to make the changes required to improve sales, organizational behavior, and communication. In my latest book, Ignite a Shift, I equip readers to think about how they and those around them think, feel and do. With greater awareness you’ll be able to better establish and meet your goals and persuade and influence others to do the same. 

Stephen's book list on the power of ideas and positive thinking

Stephen McGarvey Why did Stephen love this book?

Although this book is more than a century old, I find it just as relevant today as it was when it was first published. As a Man Thinketh offers digestible and easily understood tips to transform the way you look at barriers in life and positively embrace them. Each person holds the key to their own happiness and by dealing with thoughts intelligently and patiently, can help reconstruct life for the better. 

By James Allen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked As a Man Thinketh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THIS little volume (the result of meditation and experience) is not intended as an exhaustive treatise on the much-written-upon subject of the power of thought. It is suggestive rather than explanatory, its object being to stimulate men and women to the discovery and perception of the truth that “They themselves are makers of themselves.” …by virtue of the thoughts, which they choose and encourage; that mind is the master-weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstance, and that, as they may have hitherto woven in ignorance and pain they may now weave in enlightenment…

Book cover of Revolutionary Ride: On the Road to Shiraz, the Heart of Iran

Aryanne Oade Author Of Bullying in Teams: How to Survive It and Thrive

From my list on workplace bullying.

Why am I passionate about this?

Aryanne Oade works as a chartered psychologist, executive coach, and author of eight books. She has over thirty years’ experience in guiding clients through the challenge of complex workplace dynamics, and specialises in enabling detoxification and recovery from workplace bullying. Author of the best-selling award-winner Free Yourself from Workplace Bullying: Become Bully-Proof and Regain Control of Your Life, Aryanne’s work and books have been featured in The Independent, Sunday Independent (Ireland), Psychologies, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, The Belfast Telegraph, HR Magazine, Safety & Health Practitioner, SHP Online, Nursing Times, and Midwives.

Aryanne's book list on workplace bullying

Aryanne Oade Why did Aryanne love this book?

I include this refreshing travel memoir for escapism – something to be savoured as well as to stretch the mind. Written by an open-minded British author, it describes her solo trip around the Islamic Republic on a motorcycle. By turns entertaining, amusing and full of love for a country and people of which she had no knowledge beyond Western propaganda, it is brilliantly written. Pryce challenges her own assumptions, widens her perspective and has a blast in an engrossing, compelling, easy-to-read travelogue.

By Lois Pryce,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


'A warm, funny account of a road trip in contemporary Iran. It's had my whole family howling with laughter and shedding a few tears' - Shappi Khorsandi, Guardian

'A proper travelogue - a joyful, moving and stereotype-busting tale' - National Geographic Traveller Books of the Year

In 2011, at the height of tension between the British and Iranian governments, travel writer Lois Pryce found a note left on her motorcycle outside the Iranian Embassy in London:

... I wish that you will visit Iran so you will see for…

Book cover of Into the Wild

M. R. Reed Author Of Enthrall

From my list on doing what is right when others are against you.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m drawn to the idea of doing what you think is right when others are against you because I’ve always felt the desire to row against the current and just do my own thing. I tend to avoid following the crowd because oftentimes I simply don’t agree with them. Am I being purposely difficult? Maybe. But I fear a society that goes with the flow simply because it’s easier and it doesn’t require them to think for themselves. It’s okay to listen to other people, but before you make any major decisions, ask yourself a question: Is this right for me?

M. R.'s book list on doing what is right when others are against you

M. R. Reed Why did M. R. love this book?

Here’s my confession: I hated Chris McCandless by the time I finished this book. I hated his cockiness and lack of respect for the power of the wilderness.

But you know what I give him credit for? His ability to leave his life of privilege and the courage to go out into the world and forge his own destiny. He did what he thought was best for him despite the pushback he received from his friends and family.

I think I hated him so much because I wanted him to succeed, and he doomed himself through his own hubris. 

By Jon Krakauer,

Why should I read it?

18 authors picked Into the Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Krakauer’s page-turning bestseller explores a famed missing person mystery while unraveling the larger riddles it holds: the profound pull of the American wilderness on our imagination; the allure of high-risk activities to young men of a certain cast of mind; the complex, charged bond between fathers and sons.

"Terrifying... Eloquent... A heart-rending drama of human yearning." —New York Times

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all…

Book cover of The Alchemist

Diana Drake Long Author Of Dream It, Design It, Live It: The Ultimate Guide to Manifesting Your Next-Level Life

From my list on creativity, happiness and success in life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been enthralled with the idea of “dreams come true” for as long as I can remember. In middle school, I discovered the field of psychology. I made weekly trips to the library and read books on personal development, spirituality, and memoirs. This commitment to learning and growth has never wavered. Those early seeds that I planted and nurtured have bloomed into my long-standing career of professional coaching, facilitation, and leading transformational retreats. My passion is empowering others to believe in their dreams and goals and bring them to life. 

Diana's book list on creativity, happiness and success in life

Diana Drake Long Why did Diana love this book?

International bestseller Paul Coelho wrote this book, and it is a classic and the perfect gift for yourself or others. This book is a vibrant story about a shepherd boy who dares to pursue his dreams. The book holds wisdom on every page.

One of my favorite quotes from the book: "Why do we have to listen to our hearts?" the boy asked. Because when you listen to your heart, that is where you will find your treasure." I like to revisit this little book for a dose of sweet inspiration and motivation. Our inner wisdom is always nudging us in the direction of our dreams; it's up to us if we heed the call!

By Paulo Coelho,

Why should I read it?

25 authors picked The Alchemist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A global phenomenon, The Alchemist has been read and loved by over 62 million readers, topping bestseller lists in 74 countries worldwide. Now this magical fable is beautifully repackaged in an edition that lovers of Paulo Coelho will want to treasure forever.

Every few decades a book is published that changes the lives of its readers forever. This is such a book - a beautiful parable about learning to listen to your heart, read the omens strewn along life's path and, above all, follow your dreams.

Santiago, a young shepherd living in the hills of Andalucia, feels that there is…

Book cover of The Glass Castle

Robin van Eck Author Of Rough

From my list on jaw-dropping books about family connections that will make you laugh, cry and scream.

Why am I passionate about this?

Someone once said I can’t believe you didn’t end up in a ditch with a needle in your arm. It sounds harsh, but they meant it with love. In spite of my broken home, familial dysfunction, trauma, and bad decisions, I found a way to be okay and share my life experiences through words and stories rather than a bottle. I am the Executive Director of a non-profit organization specializing in developing authors who want to publish and use writing for therapy and healing. I live in Calgary, AB, Canada, with my teenage daughter and act as the emotional support human for an anxious dog. 

Robin's book list on jaw-dropping books about family connections that will make you laugh, cry and scream

Robin van Eck Why did Robin love this book?

This is quite possibly my favourite memoir ever written. It made me laugh, cry and scream. Never have I seen such a clearly dysfunctional family that didn’t even realize they were dysfunctional.

I loved them because they embraced life no matter what and hated them because they didn’t see how bad what they were doing to one another was. Full of elements and emotions from my own childhood, this book made me feel deeply and emotionally.  

By Jeannette Walls,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked The Glass Castle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now a major motion picture starring Brie Larson, Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson.

This is a startling memoir of a successful journalist's journey from the deserted and dusty mining towns of the American Southwest, to an antique filled apartment on Park Avenue. Jeanette Walls narrates her nomadic and adventurous childhood with her dreaming, 'brilliant' but alcoholic parents.

At the age of seventeen she escapes on a Greyhound bus to New York with her older sister; her younger siblings follow later. After pursuing the education and civilisation her parents sought to escape, Jeanette eventually succeeds in her quest for the 'mundane,…

Book cover of Unbroken

Steve Pemberton Author Of The Lighthouse Effect: How Ordinary People Can Have an Extraordinary Impact in the World

From my list on demonstrating the power of the human spirit.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m most drawn to stories of overcoming. My own childhood was about exactly that-overcoming a multi-generational inheritance of family separation and orphaned children. When I wrote my first book about that story, A Chance in the World, an unanticipated magic unfolded: I began to receive stories of strangers from all across the world who wrote to tell me their own story of overcoming. Each and every day I hear from someone and the steady stream of those stories of overcoming affirms something I have to come to learn: we all have a story and none of us look like that story.

Steve's book list on demonstrating the power of the human spirit

Steve Pemberton Why did Steve love this book?

If it’s possible to have lived multiple lives in a single lifetime, then Louis Zamperini did it.

I am a big fan of The Greatest Generation and Unbroken is the story of that generation, the deep beliefs they held, and the many sacrifices they made, not for themselves but for the generations that would follow them. You can’t miss the examples of selflessness, perseverance, and faith that jump out at you from the very first chapter.

By Laura Hillenbrand,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of the bestselling and much-loved Seabiscuit, an unforgettable story of one man's journey into extremity. On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane's bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant's name was Louis Zamperini. In boyhood,…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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