100 books like Reinterpreting Modern Culture

By Paul van Tongeren,

Here are 100 books that Reinterpreting Modern Culture fans have personally recommended if you like Reinterpreting Modern Culture. 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 Nietzsche: The Man and his Philosophy

Anthony K. Jensen Author Of An Interpretation of Nietzsche's on the Uses and Disadvantage of History for Life

From my list on interpreting Friedrich Nietzsche.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t especially like Nietzsche, and rarely agree with him. As a professor of philosophy, I find that he is less original than is popularly assumed and less clear than he should be—not out of some mysterious profundity—so much as a recalcitrance or maybe inability to make plain what he thinks. Even so, I find it quite impossible to break away from Nietzsche. For my part, and I suspect for many readers who came upon him during their formative years, Nietzsche’s thought is so close to me that I’m always wrestling with it. Maybe that’s not a ‘result of’ but a ‘condition for’ reading it?

Anthony's book list on interpreting Friedrich Nietzsche

Anthony K. Jensen Why did Anthony love this book?

Nietzsche studies are a cottage industry unto themselves. There are thousands of monographs, anthologies, and papers, which are conveniently searchable at the Weimarer Nietzsche-Bibliographie. My “five best books” are not necessarily the interpretations I personally consider by some measure the ‘best’, in the sense of being the most ‘correct’. They are instead the ones I find most helpful for a reader to interpret Nietzsche in a responsible, well-informed way for themselves. 

R. J. Hollingdale is a great starting point for a novice. He was that rare combination of translator, biographer, and philosopher—and as such, his work is approachable for any intellectually curious reader. It was first published in 1965, at a time when one really did have to argue for Nietzsche’s place as a canonical philosopher rather than just a brilliant writer, bombastic iconoclast, or politically-dangerous driver of the pre-war German Zeitgeist. Even if somewhat dated, his book…

By R. J. Hollingdale,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This classic biography of Nietzsche, first published in the 1960s, was enthusiastically reviewed at the time. The biography is now reissued with its text updated in the light of recent research. Hollingdale's biography remains the single best account of the life and works for the student or non-specialist. The biography chronicles Nietzsche's intellectual evolution and discusses his friendship and breach with Wagner, his attitude towards Schopenhauer, and his indebtedness to Darwin and the Greeks. It follows the years of his maturity and his mental collapse in 1889. The final part of the book considers the development of the Nietzsche legend…


Book cover of Friedrich Nietzsche

Anthony K. Jensen Author Of An Interpretation of Nietzsche's on the Uses and Disadvantage of History for Life

From my list on interpreting Friedrich Nietzsche.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t especially like Nietzsche, and rarely agree with him. As a professor of philosophy, I find that he is less original than is popularly assumed and less clear than he should be—not out of some mysterious profundity—so much as a recalcitrance or maybe inability to make plain what he thinks. Even so, I find it quite impossible to break away from Nietzsche. For my part, and I suspect for many readers who came upon him during their formative years, Nietzsche’s thought is so close to me that I’m always wrestling with it. Maybe that’s not a ‘result of’ but a ‘condition for’ reading it?

Anthony's book list on interpreting Friedrich Nietzsche

Anthony K. Jensen Why did Anthony love this book?

When I was a struggling young graduate student, I was fortunate enough to have Volker Gerhardt host me as a Fulbright Scholar at the Humboldt Universität in Berlin. A former vice-president of the Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Gerhardt is one of those remarkably industrious luminaries, who, with even a word of encouragement, can launch an entire area of inquiry. Working within what one might call a Kantian-Humanistic orientation, he has written widely on the most varied aspects of intellectual culture. This introductory book on Nietzsche, which is now in its fourth edition, is masterly in balancing the needs of new readers with the sort of nuances from which seasoned scholars continue to draw. Gerhardt’s Nietzsche is somewhat the cultural pragmatist, concerned above all with living an authentic life in the context of a continually-forming Europe. 

By Volker Gerhardt,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Nietzsches persönliche Bibliothek

Anthony K. Jensen Author Of An Interpretation of Nietzsche's on the Uses and Disadvantage of History for Life

From my list on interpreting Friedrich Nietzsche.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t especially like Nietzsche, and rarely agree with him. As a professor of philosophy, I find that he is less original than is popularly assumed and less clear than he should be—not out of some mysterious profundity—so much as a recalcitrance or maybe inability to make plain what he thinks. Even so, I find it quite impossible to break away from Nietzsche. For my part, and I suspect for many readers who came upon him during their formative years, Nietzsche’s thought is so close to me that I’m always wrestling with it. Maybe that’s not a ‘result of’ but a ‘condition for’ reading it?

Anthony's book list on interpreting Friedrich Nietzsche

Anthony K. Jensen Why did Anthony love this book?

Reading Nietzsche without understanding the contexts he was working in and against is a bit like trying to interpret a text thread among friends from only one of their vantages. Without the context of ‘who,’ ‘what,’ and ‘when’ Nietzsche was reading and responding to, interpreters cannot grasp why he used the particular terms, phrasings, or rhetorical devices he did. Campioni, D’Iorio, Fornari, Fronterotta, and Orsucci—each remarkable scholars in their own right—deserve our gratitude for having cataloged Nietzsche’s (mostly) still-preserved personal library as it stands in the Weimar archives. Even better, they chronicled the margin notes, dog-eared pages, and various frustrated cross-outs or excited approbations that Nietzsche scribbled into those books. Nietzsches persönliche Bibliothek has sat next to my keyboard for years, and still offers surprises when I wonder ‘did Nietzsche read Dostoyevsky in German or French translation’ or ‘which biology anthologies influenced his understanding of Darwinism?’

By Giuliano Campioni (editor), Paolo D'Iorio (editor), Maria Christina Fornari (editor) , Francesco Fronterotta (editor) , Andrea Orsucci (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nietzsches persönliche Bibliothek as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Der Band verzeichnet erstmals samtliche Werke und Noten aus Nietzsches persoenlicher Bibliothek (BN) bis Anfang Januar 1889. Er listet sowohl die Bestande der Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek als auch die des Goethe- und Schiller-Archivs in Weimar auf. Die kritische Analyse anderer Bestandslisten ermittelte zudem zahlreiche heute nicht mehr vorhandene Titel. Ferner wurden samtliche Bucherrechnungen und -quittungen von Buchhandlern und Buchbindern ausgewertet, die im Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv aufbewahrt werden.

Neben den ca. 2.200 Titeln aus Nietzsches rekonstruierter Bibliothek enthalt der Band auch ein Verzeichnis samtlicher 'Lesespuren' Nietzsches (ca. 20.000), z.B. Anmerkungen, Unterstreichungen und Eselsohren. Erganzt durch zahlreiche Faksimile-Reproduktionen sowie durch philosophische,…


Book cover of Nietzsche und der deutsche Geist, 4 vols.

Anthony K. Jensen Author Of An Interpretation of Nietzsche's on the Uses and Disadvantage of History for Life

From my list on interpreting Friedrich Nietzsche.

Why am I passionate about this?

I don’t especially like Nietzsche, and rarely agree with him. As a professor of philosophy, I find that he is less original than is popularly assumed and less clear than he should be—not out of some mysterious profundity—so much as a recalcitrance or maybe inability to make plain what he thinks. Even so, I find it quite impossible to break away from Nietzsche. For my part, and I suspect for many readers who came upon him during their formative years, Nietzsche’s thought is so close to me that I’m always wrestling with it. Maybe that’s not a ‘result of’ but a ‘condition for’ reading it?

Anthony's book list on interpreting Friedrich Nietzsche

Anthony K. Jensen Why did Anthony love this book?

If the previous text was a trusty aid for readers, then Krummel’s monumental assemblage of ‘Nietzscheana’ is a treasure chest, the single most comprehensive resource for understanding what Nietzsche meant to Germany. Much more than a bibliography, it is a ‘Wirkungsgeschichte’ or ‘history of influence’ of seemingly everything and everybody touched by the person or thought of Nietzsche from 1867-1945. Krummel, who was an American Germanist, offers the reader excerpts of more than five thousand articles, letters, published speeches, and even diary entries on the subject of Nietzsche. In fact, the massive cultural-historical library that Krummel amassed while compiling these volumes became the foundational collection of the Nietzsche-Dokumentationszentrum in Naumburg. 

By Richard Frank Krummel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nietzsche und der deutsche Geist, 4 vols. as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Die Reihe Monographien und Texte zur Nietzsche-Forschung (MTNF) setzt seit mehreren Jahrzehnten die Agenda in der sich stetig verändernden Nietzsche-Forschung. Die Bände sind interdisziplinär und international ausgerichtet und spiegeln das gesamte Spektrum der Nietzsche-Forschung wider, von der Philosophie über die Literaturwissenschaft bis zur politischen Theorie. Die Reihe veröffentlicht Monographien und Sammelbände, die einem strengen Peer-Review-Verfahren unterliegen.

Die Buchreihe wird von einem internationalen Redaktionsteam geleitet.


Book cover of The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a philosopher with a voracious appetite for literature. I inhabit a world of abstract ideas but always return to fiction because it vividly portrays the real-world consequences of our beliefs and reminds us that ideas also move us irrationally: they’re comforting or disturbing, audacious or dull, seductive or repellant. I prefer world literature because it plants us in new times and places, helping us, like philosophy, see beyond our blinders. Deprived of the assumptions that prop up our everyday arrogance, we can clear a mental and emotional path to what we’ve ignored or covered up, as well as rediscover and reaffirm shared values, arrived at from new directions. 

Donovan's book list on Japanese novels that illuminate Nietzsche’s philosophy (or distort it in illuminating ways!)

Donovan Miyasaki Why did Donovan love this book?

Nietzsche’s greatest admirers often distort his views. Mishima is no exception. Considering his nationalism, militarism, and ritualistic suicide, it’s little surprise he endorses the popular misconception of Nietzsche as a champion of egoism and power. 

In this fascinating, disturbing story, adolescent boys create a club devoted to an amoral, pseudo-Nietzschean ideal. When they encounter a mysterious sailor, they worship him as a living embodiment of their values until he defies the image they’ve created. 

Mishima misinterprets Nietzsche but in a critically illuminating way. The boys’ ultimate reaction to their disappointing demi-god proves their hypocrisy, revealing that they idolize precisely the qualities they lack. So Mishima inadvertently debunks the stereotypical image of the “overman,” a cartoonishly impossible superhero, a fantasy who attracts only his polar opposites: the insecure, resentful, conformist, and childish.

By Yukio Mishima, John Nathan (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A band of savage 13-year-old boys reject the adult world as illusory, hypocritical, and sentimental, and train themselves in a brutal callousness they call 'objectivity'. When the mother of one of them begins an affair with a ship's officer, he and his friends idealise the man at first; but it is not long before they conclude that he is in fact soft and romantic. They regard this disallusionment as an act of betrayal on his part - and the retribution is deliberate and horrifying.


Book cover of A Philosophy of Walking

Erin Leider-Pariser Author Of Get Lost: Seven Principles for Trekking Life with Grace and Other Life Lessons from Kick-Ass Women's Adventure Travel

From my list on inspiring authentic transformation.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a long-time meditator, wellness expert, and founder of a women’s adventure travel business, I am always grateful to discover books that offer insights about enhancing well-being. In my own book, Get Lost: Seven Principles for Trekking Life with Grace and Other Life Lessons from Kick-Ass Women’s Adventure Travel, I share personal stories of transformation that I and my fellow travelers have experienced on trips that include rituals to help us bond and express our authentic selves. Scientific evidence shows that connecting with others and practicing mindfulness are essential for a full, healthy life, and I loved recently sharing this message with students in the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University.  

Erin's book list on inspiring authentic transformation

Erin Leider-Pariser Why did Erin love this book?

I was gifted this book recently and it is the gift that keeps on giving.

I am an avid walker and the way the author interspersed poignant life stories with his own on walking was lovingly poetic. This quote “the walker is king, and the earth is his domain” is the one that defines the entire message of the book. I’ve been on many pilgrimages in life and witnessed many a transformation but none like the ones these philosophers uncover.

It was a joy to read the profound messages in staying present while walking as exercise. Grab a friend and enjoy walking together as you put one foot in front of the other and have meaningful conversation. 

By Frederic Gros, Clifford Harper (illustrator), John Howe (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth.
- Nietzsche

By walking, you escape from the very idea of identity, the temptation to be someone, to have a name and a history ... The freedom in walking lies in not being anyone; for the walking body has no history, it is just an eddy in the stream of immemorial life.

In A Philosophy of Walking, a bestseller in France, leading thinker Frederic Gros charts the many different ways we get from A to B-the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, the nature ramble-and reveals what they say…


Book cover of How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer

Sue Prideaux Author Of I Am Dynamite! A Life of Nietzsche

From my list on philosophy and humanity’s search for meaning.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am fascinated by humanity’s search for meaning. That is what I am exploring as I read philosophy and as I write my biographies of extraordinary individuals. Sue Prideaux has written award-winning books on Edvard Munch and his painting The Scream, the playwright August Strindberg, and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. She acted as consultant to Sotheby’s when they sold The Scream for a record-breaking $120 million.

Sue's book list on philosophy and humanity’s search for meaning

Sue Prideaux Why did Sue love this book?

Nietzsche said; “Only those with very large lungs have the right to write long sentences.” Montaigne was of the same opinion. He pre-dated Nietzsche in couching his philosophy simply and clearly in short, sharp aphorisms. Like Nietzsche’s aphorisms, they are often very funny.

By Sarah Bakewell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How to Live as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How to get on well with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love? How to live?

This question obsessed Renaissance nobleman Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-92), who wrote free-roaming explorations of his thought and experience, unlike anything written before. Into these essays he put whatever was in his head: his tastes in wine and food, his childhood memories, the way his dog's ears twitched when it was dreaming, events in the appalling civil wars raging around him. The Essays was an instant bestseller, and over four hundred years later, readers still come to…


Book cover of Heaven

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a philosopher with a voracious appetite for literature. I inhabit a world of abstract ideas but always return to fiction because it vividly portrays the real-world consequences of our beliefs and reminds us that ideas also move us irrationally: they’re comforting or disturbing, audacious or dull, seductive or repellant. I prefer world literature because it plants us in new times and places, helping us, like philosophy, see beyond our blinders. Deprived of the assumptions that prop up our everyday arrogance, we can clear a mental and emotional path to what we’ve ignored or covered up, as well as rediscover and reaffirm shared values, arrived at from new directions. 

Donovan's book list on Japanese novels that illuminate Nietzsche’s philosophy (or distort it in illuminating ways!)

Donovan Miyasaki Why did Donovan love this book?

Thanks to its love/hate relationship with Western individualism, Japanese literature boasts the most sophisticated examples of the Nietzschean novel. This book's simple story about school bullying is really a philosophical meditation on friendship, courage, and meaning. 

The bully shares the contradictions of the stereotypical “overman,” declaring his right to immorality and feigning indifference while seeking others’ approval. His victim, in turn, mirrors “slave morality,” nursing bitterness rather than finding his own path. 

However, this predictable setup is upended by Kojima, a schoolgirl who takes defiant pride in her outcast status. Exploding the simplistic dichotomies of pop-Nietzsche, Kojima combines the inner strength of the “ascetic,” the compassion of the “slave,” and the courageous self-affirmation of the “noble” in a nuanced, critical Nietzscheanism that’s truer to Nietzsche in spirit than perhaps any other novel.

By Mieko Kawakami, Sam Bett (translator), David Boyd (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2022 INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE

“A raw, painful, and tender portrait of adolescent misery… This book is very likely to make you cry.”—Lily Meyer, NPR

With profound tenderness and sensitivity, Japanese literary superstar Mieko Kawakami turns her unique gaze onto the causes and effects of violence. Raw but revelatory, this novel stands as a dazzling confirmation of Kawakami’s standing as one of her country’s most insightful and compelling novelists.

In Heaven, a shy high-school student is subjected to bullying from his classmates and the only person capable of understanding his ordeal is a young classmate who suffers similar…


Book cover of Schoolgirl

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a philosopher with a voracious appetite for literature. I inhabit a world of abstract ideas but always return to fiction because it vividly portrays the real-world consequences of our beliefs and reminds us that ideas also move us irrationally: they’re comforting or disturbing, audacious or dull, seductive or repellant. I prefer world literature because it plants us in new times and places, helping us, like philosophy, see beyond our blinders. Deprived of the assumptions that prop up our everyday arrogance, we can clear a mental and emotional path to what we’ve ignored or covered up, as well as rediscover and reaffirm shared values, arrived at from new directions. 

Donovan's book list on Japanese novels that illuminate Nietzsche’s philosophy (or distort it in illuminating ways!)

Donovan Miyasaki Why did Donovan love this book?

The most charming and subtly Nietzschean of Dazai’s usually bleak novels, this book plants readers directly inside the mind of a young girl over the course of a day. Some compare her to Catcher in the Rye’s Holden, a child pretending to be a grown-up. But schoolgirl’s a true contradiction: too childish and too mature, naive and wise, Holden’s little sister mixed with Mrs. Dalloway. 

Holden is a “bad Nietzsche,” overcoming internal strife with protective cynicism, but schoolgirl’s a bundle of possibilities: Nietzsche’s “undersouls” battle to control her identity, veering between “becoming what she is” or expected to be and “decadence.” 

She’s confusing, endearing, and heartbreaking because everything’s still possible. She could as easily become Holden, a dutiful daughter, or a Dazai double-suicide, and any passing experience might decide that fate. 

By Osamu Dazai, Allison Markin Powell (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Essentially the start of Dazai's career, Schoolgirl gained notoriety for its ironic and inventive use of language. Now it illuminates the prevalent social structures of a lost time, as well as the struggle of the individual against them–a theme that occupied Dazai's life both personally and professionally. This new translation preserves the playful language of the original and offers the reader a new window into the mind of one of the greatest Japanese authors of the 20th century.


Book cover of Minima Moralia: Reflections from Damaged Life

Will Kitchen Author Of Film, Negation and Freedom: Capitalism and Romantic Critique

From my list on philosophy books about knowledge, culture, and freedom.

Why am I passionate about this?

My background is in academic film analysis, although this has opened doors to many subjects: literature, music, philosophy, political economy… My students are always encouraged to think beyond their "home" discipline when they come to university. I believe that if you study a subject deep enough, it will lead to all the others. So far, my research has led me from classical music through Hollywood biopics and Romanic philosophy to some of the most fundamental questions about the construction and social organisation of creative labour in the modern world. I find that the most enjoyable books explain the world to us whilst reflecting upon what that act of explanation means. 

Will's book list on philosophy books about knowledge, culture, and freedom

Will Kitchen Why did Will love this book?

As a writer, Adorno learned much from music–both what it says and what it fails to say. Each page is packed with enough ideas to inspire a dozen discussions.

For me, philosophy makes the most sense in this "continental" (as opposed to "analytic") style. The fragmentary, anti-systemic approach developed from the Early German Romantics, extending through Friedrich Nietzsche down to the poststructuralists.

Although falling short of the grandeur of his magnum opus, Negative Dialectics, Adorno’s most accessible book maintains a keen critical edge alongside an appealing balance between clarity and richness––reason and imagination. 

By Theodor Adorno, Edmund FN Jephcott (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Written between 1944 and 1947, Minima Moralia is a collection of rich, lucid aphorisms and essays about life in modern capitalist society. Adorno casts his penetrating eye across society in mid-century America and finds a life deformed by capitalism. This is Adorno's theoretical and literary masterpiece and a classic of twentieth-century thought.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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