10 books like Pursuits of Happiness

By Stanley Cavell,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Pursuits of Happiness. 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…


A Stroll With William James

By Jacques Barzun,

Book cover of A Stroll With William James

In my college days, it seemed that everyone was carrying around a copy of Barzun’s book on Darwin, Marx, and Wagner, and I remember devouring his two-volume book on Berlioz and the Romantic Century, just for fun. When I began to seriously study William James, I was amazed to see that Barzun had written about him too. A Stroll with William James has one of my favorite titles, signifying a certain American informality and inherent movement that is characteristic of both James the man and his philosophy of pragmatism.

Barzun’s engagingly written book contains chapters on James’s life, his relation to his brother Henry James the novelist, and on William’s masterwork, The Principles of Psychology, with its great chapter on “the stream of thought.” Barzun also considers the brilliant “study in human nature” that James calls The Varieties of Religious Experience, with its chapters on conversion, mysticism, and…

A Stroll With William James

By Jacques Barzun,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Analyzes the philosophical and psychological theories of William James and examines their contributions to the present state of Western civilization


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.


The Immediate Experience

By Robert Warshow,

Book cover of The Immediate Experience: Movies, Comics, Theatre, and Other Aspects of Popular Culture

If I had to pick the two most basic, and most enthralling, essays for understanding American movies, they would be Warshow’s "The Westerner" and "The Gangster," both included in this book. Warshow, who died tragically young, also gives us the two finest pieces ever written about Chaplin, in which he argues that the flaws and stresses in Chaplin’s film art somehow make it more, not less, impressive. Add Warshow’s properly skeptical account of Soviet cinema—he is appreciative, but also aware of how Communist ideology distorted Soviet film—and you have the very best from a star among the New York intellectuals.

The Immediate Experience

By Robert Warshow,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This collection of essays, which originally appeared as a book in 1962, is virtually the complete works of an editor of Commentary magazine who died, at age 37, in 1955. Long before the rise of Cultural Studies as an academic pursuit, in the pages of the best literary magazines of the day, Robert Warshow wrote analyses of the folklore of modern life that were as sensitive and penetrating as the writings of James Agee, George Orwell, and Walter Benjamin. Some of these essays--notably "The Westerner," "The Gangster as Tragic Hero," and the pieces on the New Yorker, Mad Magazine, Arthur…


Monument Lab

By Paul M. Farber (editor), Ken Lum (editor),

Book cover of Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia

Monument Lab is one book to get your hands on, if you are curious to know how a historic city can remake its traditional monumental history to become more inclusive and reflective of a holistic past and present. The book is about the organization called Monument Lab, which works with communities, artists, and more to reshape the monument culture of Philadelphia. Filled with short essays and colorful photographs, Monument Lab and Monument Lab the book model the democratic turn towards inclusive monument making in an American city.

Monument Lab

By Paul M. Farber (editor), Ken Lum (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia? That was the question posed by the curators, artists, scholars, and students who comprise the Philadelphia-based public art and history studio Monument Lab. And in 2017, along with Mural Arts Philadelphia, they produced and organized a groundbreaking, city-wide exhibition of temporary, site-specific works that engaged directly with the community. The installations, by a cohort of diverse artists considering issues of identity, appeared in iconic public squares and neighborhood parks with research and learning labs and prototype monuments.

Monument Lab is a fabulous compendium of the exhibition and a critical…


God Almighty Hisself

By Mitchell Nathanson,

Book cover of God Almighty Hisself: The Life and Legacy of Dick Allen

Nathanson (like me) faced the dilemma of writing biography when the subject declines to be interviewed. His approach showed me the way. The availability of digital newspaper databases has opened up enormous possibilities for research, and Nathanson took advantage of them to provide color, detail, and analysis on a grand scale. The many dozens of reporters and newspaper writers who covered Dick Allen wrote game accounts, opinion columns, and feature stories that informed, inspired, and entertained contemporary readers. They watched the games from the vantage point of the press box, peppered the players and managers with questions in the clubhouse afterward, and often rode the buses and planes with the teams. They had a level of access that is the envy of historians, and Nathanson greatly profited from their work.

God Almighty Hisself

By Mitchell Nathanson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked God Almighty Hisself as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When the Philadelphia Phillies signed Dick Allen in 1960, fans of the franchise envisioned bearing witness to feats never before accomplished by a Phillies player. A half-century later, they're still trying to make sense of what they saw.
Carrying to the plate baseball's heaviest and loudest bat as well as the burden of being the club's first African American superstar, Allen found both hits and controversy with ease and regularity as he established himself as the premier individualist in a game that prided itself on conformity. As one of his managers observed, "I believe God Almighty hisself would have trouble…


Not All Wives

By Karin Wulf,

Book cover of Not All Wives: Women of Colonial Philadelphia

A well-written study of Philadelphia’s single women in the eighteenth century, this book offers an unusual view of women’s lives by focusing on the unmarried female residents of an urban middle-colony environment. (Most works on colonial women have studied married women in rural New England.) Each chapter highlights an individual woman and the diverse experiences of others like her, including poor women, dependents in siblings’ households, female shopkeepers and other tradeswomen, and women who form organizations with other women. Remarkably comprehensive, it presents a counterpoint to more familiar narratives.

Not All Wives

By Karin Wulf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Not All Wives as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marital status was a fundamental legal and cultural feature of women's identity in the eighteenth century. Free women who were not married could own property and make wills, contracts, and court appearances, rights that the law of coverture prevented their married sisters from enjoying. Karin Wulf explores the significance of marital status in this account of unmarried women in Philadelphia, the largest city in the British colonies.
In a major act of historical reconstruction, Wulf draws upon sources ranging from tax lists, censuses, poor relief records, and wills to almanacs, newspapers, correspondence, and poetry in order to recreate the daily…


The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead

By Chanelle Benz,

Book cover of The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead: Stories

This story collection grabbed me right away from the title and stole my heart with some of the most exciting and visceral characters that I’ve read. In “West of the Known,” my favorite story, a young girl escapes violence to become an outlaw; in “The Diplomat’s Daughter,” a woman renames and reworks herself into a feared force of nature. I’ll be honest that reading this book inspired me and scared me; I wanted to write as powerfully and truthfully about anger and violence in women as Chanelle did. So when I asked her to read an early copy of my book, and she came back with lovely praise, I just about lost my mind.

The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead

By Chanelle Benz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*LONGLISTED FOR THE 2018 PEN/ROBERT W. BINGHAM PRIZE FOR DEBUT FICTION*

*SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2018 WILLIAM SAROYAN INTERNATIONAL PRIZE FOR WRITING*

Named a Best Book of 2017 by The San Francisco Chronicle

Named one of Electric Literature’s 15 Best Short Story Collections of 2017

A stunningly original debut collection about lives across history marked by violence and longing.

A brother and sister turn outlaw in a wild and brutal landscape. The daughter of a diplomat disappears and resurfaces across the world as a deadly woman of many names. A young Philadelphia boy struggles with the contradictions of privilege, violence, and…


Fever 1793

By Laurie Halse Anderson,

Book cover of Fever 1793

When I first read Fever 1793—set in Philadelphia during a yellow fever epidemic—I thought it was a well-written and thought-provoking glimpse into how people would respond in a crisis. After re-reading it post-pandemic, I would now add “prophetic.” Mattie is a typical grumpy teen who would rather have fun than work in her family’s coffee house. But there is a deadly fever rapidly spreading through the city. Desperation unleashes her inner strength, allowing her to prevail over disease, fear, food shortages, unscrupulous thieves, and well-intentioned but poorly-managed medical science.

Fever 1793

By Laurie Halse Anderson,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Fever 1793 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Synopsis coming soon.......


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