100 books like Meditations

By Marcus Aurelius, A.S.L. Farquharson (translator),

Here are 100 books that Meditations fans have personally recommended if you like Meditations. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Letters from a Stoic

Chuck Chakrapani Author Of Unshakable Freedom: Ancient Stoic Secrets Applied to Modern Life

From my list on Stoicism for beginners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Editor of the free online magazine The Stoic and the author of some twenty books on Stoicism. My day job is President, Leger Analytics, and I am also a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University. I am not a professional philosopher. I study and write about Stoicism because it helps us to live better, free of fear, anxiety, worry, or anger.

Chuck's book list on Stoicism for beginners

Chuck Chakrapani Why did Chuck love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of The Stoics Reader: Selected Writings and Testimonia

Gregory Lopez Author Of A Handbook for New Stoics: How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control―52 Week-by-Week Lessons

From my list on Stoicism for modern Stoic practitioners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I learned about Stoicism through its connection to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, whose founder, Albert Ellis, was influenced by Stoic philosophy. Since I had an interest in philosophy, I decided to look more into Stoicism, and—to my surprise—I learned that philosophy could be practical (who knew?!), and that others were trying to put Stoicism into practice today! This led me to try to find other Stoics by founding the New York City Stoics in 2013, followed by co-founding a non-profit—The Stoic Fellowship—to help other people do the same in 2016. I’ve now given talks on Stoicism worldwide in addition to co-writing a book on Stoic practice.

Gregory's book list on Stoicism for modern Stoic practitioners

Gregory Lopez Why did Gregory love this book?

The surviving writings of the “big three” Stoics—Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca—are the first places people turn when they want to learn about Stoicism from its original practitioners. But these three sources are missing something very important: a coherent overview of Stoic ethics. The Stoics Reader has not just one, but three such overviews from the ancient philosophical biographer Diogenes Laertius, the Stoic sympathizer Cicero, and the Stoic teacher of Augustus Caesar—Arius Didymus. This volume is one of the few places you can find an English translation of Arius’s summary of Stoic ethics, making it worth the price of purchase alone. 

By Brad Inwood, Lloyd P. Gerson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This volume gathers together the most important evidence about Stoic thought surviving from the ancient world. It is an expanded version of the section on Stoicism in Inwood and Gerson's Hellenistic Philosophy, consolidating related texts into larger, more continuous selections, adding material on the skeptical attack on Stoicism, and a short section that introduces the reader to some of the more interesting texts on Stoic ethics from the Roman imperial period. Inwood and Gerson provide lucid, accurate translations, an Introduction that sets the works included in historical and philosophical context, a glossary of terms, a glossary of philosophers and philosophical…


Book cover of Discourses, Fragments, Handbook

Brian E. Johnson Author Of The Role Ethics of Epictetus: Stoicism in Ordinary Life

From my list on Stoicism through the eyes of a philosophy professor.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an associate professor of philosophy at Fordham University. I earned my Ph.D. at the University of Chicago (the same institution where the fictional Indiana Jones is said to have earned his doctorate!). I specialize in Greek and Roman ethics with a particular emphasis on Stoicism.

Brian's book list on Stoicism through the eyes of a philosophy professor

Brian E. Johnson Why did Brian love this book?

Author Elif Batuman wrote of the Stoic Epictetus, he “won me over with his tone, which was that of an enraged athletics coach.” He is feisty, demanding, sarcastic, but he can be surprisingly poignant and occasionally empathetic to his audience. Epictetus himself wrote nothing; what survives was written down by a student. We therefore witness Epictetus live as he works with his own student or even when he talks with magistrates who would came to consult with him at the end of the day. Epictetus had been a slave early in life so it packs quite a wallop when he tells freeborn Romans that they have the worst kind of slavery: enslavement to external goods at the cost of their inner freedom.

By Christopher Gill, Robin Hard (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Discourses, Fragments, Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'About things that are within our power and those that are not.'

Epictetus's Discourses have been the most widely read and influential of all writings of Stoic philosophy, from antiquity onwards. They set out the core ethical principles of Stoicism in a form designed to help people put them into practice and to use them as a basis for leading a good human life. Epictetus was a teacher, and a freed slave, whose discourses have a vivid informality, animated by anecdotes and dialogue. Forceful, direct, and challenging, their central message is that the
basis of happiness is up to us,…


Book cover of Hellenistic Philosophy

Gary W. Cross Author Of Exploring the Way of Epictetus: His Destination, Directions, and Strategies

From my list on understanding Stoicism from multiple perspectives.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my series on Ways of the World, my aim is to let the founder of each way tell us of their way in their words: the destination that they suggest we all seek; the directions that they offer to help us to reach the destination, and the strategies that they offer to help us to successfully follow their directions. I find it marvelous that we can listen to people, such as Epictetus, who lived thousands of years ago; people whose words can help us to improve our ways. You would be right if you have guessed that the books I recommend are primary sources.

Gary's book list on understanding Stoicism from multiple perspectives

Gary W. Cross Why did Gary love this book?

This book not only provides excellent texts of early Stoicism, but also provides texts of Epicureanism, and Scepticism, the other dominant philosophies at the time, and thus places Stoicism in the context of the time.

By Lloyd P. Gerson, Brad Inwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This new edition of Hellenistic Philosophy --including nearly 100 pages of additional materia--offers the first English translation of the account of Stoic ethics by Arius Didymus, substantial new sources on Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Scepticism, expanded representation of Plutarch and Cicero, and a fuller presentation of papyrological evidence. Inwood and Gerson maintain the standard of consistency and accuracy that distinguished their translations in the first edition, while regrouping some material into larger, more thematically connected passages. This edition is further enhanced by a new, more spacious page design.


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

Wendy Thomas Russell Author Of Relax It's Just God: How and Why to Talk to Your Kids about Religion When You're Not Religious

From my list on finding your own philosophy of life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m drawn to the intersection of psychology, philosophy and pragmatism — a dynamic that can be found in the books I write, the conversations I enjoy, and the ways I choose to spend my down time. By getting in touch with my personal psychology (influenced by my brain chemistry, temperament and upbringing) and studying various philosophies (from the Stoics to Alain de Botton), I have begun to find my own truth and formulate my own best practices in life. I don’t always nail it — not by a long shot — but that’s why it’s called a practice. There are so many different ways to live a contented life. It can be awfully rewarding to locate your own.

Wendy's book list on finding your own philosophy of life

Wendy Thomas Russell Why did Wendy love this book?

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.

By David Hicks, C. Scot Hicks, Marcus Aurelius

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…


Book cover of Meditations: The Annotated Edition

Donald J. Robertson Author Of Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

From my list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist. I am one of the founders of the Modern Stoicism nonprofit organisation and the president and founder of the Plato’s Academy Centre in Athens, Greece. I’ve published six books on philosophy and psychotherapy, mostly focusing on the Stoic philosophy and its relationship with modern psychology and evidence-based psychotherapy.

Donald's book list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius

Donald J. Robertson Why did Donald love this book?

This is the most recent translation of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, at the time of writing but I’m mainly including it because of Robin Waterfield’s very thorough annotations, which are invaluable when it comes to understanding some of the more obscure passages. They provide historical and philosophical context that’s otherwise missing and make it much easier to appreciate what Marcus was trying to say.

By Marcus Aurelius, Robin Waterfield (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was the sixteenth emperor of Rome -- and by far the most powerful and wealthy man in the world. Yet he was also an intensely private person, with a rich interior life and deep reservoirs of personal insight. He collected his thoughts in notebooks, gems which have come to be called his Meditations. Never intended for publication, the work survived his death and has proved an inexhaustible source of wisdom and one of the most important Stoic texts of all time. In often passionate language, the entries range from essays to one-line aphorisms, and from profundity to…


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

Donald J. Robertson Author Of Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

From my list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist. I am one of the founders of the Modern Stoicism nonprofit organisation and the president and founder of the Plato’s Academy Centre in Athens, Greece. I’ve published six books on philosophy and psychotherapy, mostly focusing on the Stoic philosophy and its relationship with modern psychology and evidence-based psychotherapy.

Donald's book list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius

Donald J. Robertson Why did Donald love this book?

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. 

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…


Book cover of Marcus Aurelius

Donald J. Robertson Author Of Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

From my list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist. I am one of the founders of the Modern Stoicism nonprofit organisation and the president and founder of the Plato’s Academy Centre in Athens, Greece. I’ve published six books on philosophy and psychotherapy, mostly focusing on the Stoic philosophy and its relationship with modern psychology and evidence-based psychotherapy.

Donald's book list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius

Donald J. Robertson Why did Donald love this book?

John Sellars is a British academic philosopher and one of the leading modern scholars of Stoicism but he’s also a great communicator and his writings are easily accessible to nonacademics. Many readers assume, at first glance, that the Meditations consist of “random musings.” However, this recent work on the philosophy underlying Marcus Aurelius’ thought helps to expose the systematic nature of his reasoning. 

By John Sellars,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this new study, John Sellars offers a fresh examination of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations as a work of philosophy by placing it against the background of the tradition of Stoic philosophy to which Marcus was committed.

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius is a perennial bestseller, attracting countless readers drawn to its unique mix of philosophical reflection and practical advice. The emperor is usually placed alongside Seneca and Epictetus as one of three great Roman Stoic authors, but he wears his philosophy lightly, not feeling the need to state explicitly the ideas standing behind the reflections that he was writing for…


Book cover of Discourses and Selected Writings

Neel Burton Author Of Stoic Stories: A Heroic Account of Stoicism

From my list on Stoicism from a psychiatrist and philosopher.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a psychiatrist and philosopher who lives and teaches in Oxford, England. I’ve long held that there is much more to mental health than the mere absence of mental disorder. Mental health is not just about surviving, limping from crisis to crisis, but about thriving, about developing and expressing our highest, fullest potential as human beings. The Stoic attitude is a path not just to sanity but to hypersanity, at a time when more than one in five adults are suffering from some form of depression. Unlike many modern interventions, Stoicism is no sticking plaster, but a total and radical reappraisal of our relationship to ourselves and to the world.

Neel's book list on Stoicism from a psychiatrist and philosopher

Neel Burton Why did Neel love this book?

Epictetus was a slave who won his freedom and started his own successful school of philosophy before retiring into obscurity. Among his many students was the historian Arrian, who wrote up his spoken lectures “word for word” as the Discourses. The Discourses are down to earth, succinct, and forthright, as, for example, when Epictetus says, “And who exactly are these people that you want to be admired by? Aren’t they the same people you are in the habit of calling crazy? And is this your life ambition then—to win the approval of lunatics?” The Discourses were much loved by Marcus Aurelius, a case of a slave inspiring an emperor!

By Epictetus,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Discourses and Selected Writings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Discourses/Fragments/Enchiridion

'I must die. But must I die bawling?'

Epictetus, a Greek Stoic and freed slave, ran a thriving philosophy school in Nicopolis in the early second century AD. His animated discussions were celebrated for their rhetorical wizardry and were written down by Arrian, his most famous pupil. The Discourses argue that happiness lies in learning to perceive exactly what is in our power to change and what is not, and in embracing our fate to live in harmony with god and nature. In this personal, practical guide to the ethics of Stoicism and moral self-improvement, Epictetus tackles questions…


Book cover of The Role Ethics of Epictetus: Stoicism in Ordinary Life

Gregory Lopez Author Of A Handbook for New Stoics: How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control―52 Week-by-Week Lessons

From my list on Stoicism for modern Stoic practitioners.

Why am I passionate about this?

I learned about Stoicism through its connection to Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, whose founder, Albert Ellis, was influenced by Stoic philosophy. Since I had an interest in philosophy, I decided to look more into Stoicism, and—to my surprise—I learned that philosophy could be practical (who knew?!), and that others were trying to put Stoicism into practice today! This led me to try to find other Stoics by founding the New York City Stoics in 2013, followed by co-founding a non-profit—The Stoic Fellowship—to help other people do the same in 2016. I’ve now given talks on Stoicism worldwide in addition to co-writing a book on Stoic practice.

Gregory's book list on Stoicism for modern Stoic practitioners

Gregory Lopez Why did Gregory love this book?

One of the most common types of questions I hear about Stoicism concerns what “the Stoic thing to do” is. In a certain situation, is it more Stoic to do X or Y? Johnson’s book does a masterful job of unearthing Epictetus’s theory of role ethics so that you can answer this question for yourself. By thinking about your roles in life, you can deduce the appropriate action in many circumstances. And what’s appropriate depends on who you are and what your role in the situation is. My personal Stoic practice owes a lot to Johnson’s work—while the book is indeed academic, it contains a lot of helpful information for the modern Stoic practitioner.

By Brian E. Johnson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Role Ethics of Epictetus: Stoicism in Ordinary Life offers an original interpretation of Epictetus's ethics and how he bases his ethics on an appeal to our roles in life. Epictetus believes that every individual is the bearer of many roles from sibling to citizen and that individuals are morally good if they fulfill the obligations associated with these roles. To understand Epictetus's account of roles, scholars have often mistakenly looked backwards to Cicero's earlier and more schematic account of roles. However, for Cicero, roles are merely a tool in the service of the virtue of decorum where decorum is…


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