100 books like The Art of Living

By Epictetus (lead author), Sharon Lebell (translator),

Here are 100 books that The Art of Living fans have personally recommended if you like The Art of Living. 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 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 Lives of the Stoics: The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius

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?

We learn more through stories than through reading about abstract concepts. Lives of the Stoics is the story of the ancient Stoics. Who were they? How did they think? How did they live? If we want to live a Stoic life, then it helps us to know how other Stoics applied philosophy in their own lives: How did they face adversity? How did they handle betrayal? How did they handle prosperity? How did they deal with the ups and downs of life? The tone of the book is more informal and personal rather than authoritative. Yet this is one of the best books on Stoicism. Instead of giving us advice on how to use Stoic principles to live a better life, Holiday and Hanselman give us actual examples of people who lived by the principles and the results they got. If you are serious about practicing Stoicism, you will get…

By Stephen Hanselman, Ryan Holiday,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
#1 WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER

From the bestselling authors of The Daily Stoic - an inspiring guide to the lives of Stoicism's greatest practitioners

A New York Times Noteworthy Pick

'In story after page-turning story, Lives of the Stoics brings ancient philosophers to life.' - David Epstein, bestselling author of Range

'Wonderful' - Chris Bosh, two-time NBA Champion

For millennia, Stoicism has been the ancient philosophy that attracts those who seek greatness, from athletes to politicians and everyone in between. And no wonder: its embrace of self-mastery, virtue and indifference to that which we cannot…


Book cover of Meditations: A New Translation

Lin Wilder Author Of Plausible Liars: A Dr. Lindsey McCall Medical Mystery

From my list on preparing for writing/walking/thinking/acting against the crowd.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a writer who just published a book I didn’t have any interest in writing. I didn’t like the subject matter, so I had no interest in doing the research to create credible characters and a cohesive plot.

Lin's book list on preparing for writing/walking/thinking/acting against the crowd

Lin Wilder Why did Lin love this book?

Back when I was an atheist undergraduate college student, this book, among others, saved my life.

I’d walked away from everything religious and hence lacked all moral grounding. Although I was ambitious, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. Only what I didn’t want to do with my life.

My animosity against all things religious was huge, but the stoic philosophy of discipline and self-control kept me from throwing my life away.

By Marcus Aurelius (lead author), Gregory Hays (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nearly two thousand years after it was written, Meditations remains profoundly relevant for anyone seeking to lead a meaningful life.

Few ancient works have been as influential as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and emperor of Rome (A.D. 161–180). A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus’s insights and advice—on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others—have made the Meditations required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations…


Book cover of Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction

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?

If you read the three books mentioned above, you will get a very good idea about Stoicism and how it can help you to lead a better life. But these books do not give a comprehensive overall picture of Stoic philosophy. They tend to ignore many aspects of Stoicism. If you want to have a good overall understanding of Stoic philosophy without having to spend a lot of time or money, get this book. In just 152 pages, Brad Inwood, a distinguished Stoic scholar, gives a clear account of what Stoicism is all about. If you are serious about Stoicism, at some point you need to have a reasonable understanding of what Stoicism actually was and is. You can find no better introduction to Stoicism than this.

This book is so concise, comprehensive, and clear, there’s no other book that directly competes with this one.

By Brad Inwood,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Stoicism is two things: a long past philosophical school of ancient Greece and Rome, and an enduring philosophical movement that still inspires people in the twenty-first century to re-think and re-organize their lives in order to achieve personal satisfaction. What is the connection between them?

This Very Short Introduction provides an introductory account of Stoic philosophy, and tells the story of how ancient Stoicism survived and evolved into the movement we see today. Exploring the roots of the school in the philosophy of fourth century BCE Greece, Brad Inwood examines its basic history and doctrines and its relationship to the…


Book cover of A Field Guide to a Happy Life: 53 Brief Lessons for Living

Matthew Van Natta Author Of The Beginner's Guide to Stoicism: Tools for Emotional Resilience and Positivity

From my list on practicing Stoicism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Matthew J. Van Natta is an author and podcaster who has been guiding people to Stoicism for over a decade. His focus is on the daily application of Stoic philosophy within the modern world. He writes fiction, drinks coffee, beer, and whiskey, and contemplates the human condition. His writings have been featured on SpiritualNaturalistSociety.org and Modern Stoicism.

Matthew's book list on practicing Stoicism

Matthew Van Natta Why did Matthew love this book?

A Field Guide to a Happy Life is an outstanding example of what a modern Stoic book can and should be. Pigliucci has taken the famous Handbook (Enchiridion) of the Roman Stoic teacher, Epictetus, and reworked it to reflect a more modern approach to the philosophy. As such, this field guide is a portable, practical guide to applying Stoic wisdom in your day to day life.

What I most appreciate about A Field Guide to a Happy Life is that the author’s update of the philosophy is clearly described in a later section of the book. This allows the reader to compare and contrast the ancient with the modern. What does it mean to adopt and adapt a two thousand year old philosophy? This unique book is both a practical philosophical guide, and a jumping off point to deeper study.

By Massimo Pigliucci,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Field Guide to a Happy Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Bursting with practical wisdom and engaging stories ... a Stoicism 2.0 for twenty-first century happiness' Skye Cleary

'A bold, contemporary updating of Stoicism for the present day' John Sellars, author of Lessons in Stoicism

Learn how to survive life's hardships and enjoy its pleasures with the modern stoic mindset.

In this enlightening book, philosopher Massimo Pigliucci offers a thoughtful and modern reinterpretation of Epictetus's 53 lessons for living a good life. Drawing on the ancient wisdom of the Stoics, this is a comforting guide that will help you reclaim the power of your emotional response and let go of the…


Book cover of Being Better: Stoicism for a World Worth Living In

Matthew Van Natta Author Of The Beginner's Guide to Stoicism: Tools for Emotional Resilience and Positivity

From my list on practicing Stoicism.

Why am I passionate about this?

Matthew J. Van Natta is an author and podcaster who has been guiding people to Stoicism for over a decade. His focus is on the daily application of Stoic philosophy within the modern world. He writes fiction, drinks coffee, beer, and whiskey, and contemplates the human condition. His writings have been featured on SpiritualNaturalistSociety.org and Modern Stoicism.

Matthew's book list on practicing Stoicism

Matthew Van Natta Why did Matthew love this book?

Being Better is the best expression of the heart of Stoic philosophy that I have found in print. This is not a how-to book in the style of so many beginner’s manuals (including my own), but instead it is a meditation on the core principles of Stoicism. The authors challenge us to apply those principles in our own lives, so that we can join together in making the world a better place. Each chapter unveils a facet of the philosophy using the experiences of real people, both ancient and modern, as examples of how to apply Stoic thinking to hard problems such as the climate crisis, social justice issues, and economic excess. Being Better moves past simple life hacks to show us how Stoicism can function as a full philosophy of life.

By Leonidas Konstantakos, Kai Whiting,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Practical answers to the urgent moral questions of our time from the ancient philosophy of Stoicism

Twenty-three centuries ago, in a marketplace in Athens, Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism, built his philosophy on powerful ideas that still resonate today: all human beings can become citizens of the world, regardless of their nationality, gender, or social class; happiness comes from living in harmony with nature; and, most important, humans always have the freedom to choose their attitude, even when they cannot control external circumstances. In our age of political polarization and environmental destruction, Stoicism’s empowering message has taken on…


Book cover of Meditations

George J. Siedel Author Of Seven Essentials for Business Success

From my list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I headed the Executive Education Center at the University of Michigan I had the opportunity to meet with many great leaders and observe them in action. I also enjoy interacting with faculty colleagues who conduct state-of-the-art research on leadership. Because of this experience, I believe that leaders are made, not born, and that reading biographies, psychological studies, philosophical commentary, histories, and fiction like the books on my list is one of the best ways to gain insight into what you need to become a great leader. 

George's book list on leadership that doesn’t have “leadership” in the title

George J. Siedel Why did George love this book?

Leaders should develop a philosophy of life—a north star that will guide them through difficult times. This timeless classic by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius provides a combination of wisdom and practical advice that serves as a reference both for those in a leadership position and for individuals seeking a deeper understanding of their daily lives. Here is a sample: “The longest-lived and those who will die soonest lose the same thing. The present is all that they can give up, since that is all you have, and what you do not have, you cannot lose.”

By Marcus Aurelius, Maxwell Staniforth (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Penguin Great Ideas edition of Stoic philosophy in wise and practical aphorisms that have inspired Bill Clinton, Ryan Holiday, Anna Kendrick and many more.

Few ancient works have been as influential as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and emperor of Rome (A.D. 161-180). A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus's insights and advice-on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others-have made the Meditations required reading for statesmen…


Book cover of Enchiridion

Eve Poole Author Of Leadersmithing: Revealing the Trade Secrets of Leadership

From my list on what you really need to know about leadership.

Why am I passionate about this?

It is shocking how many leaders suffer from imposter syndrome, and how little practical advice is out there about how to help. It’s been my mission to identify not only precisely what leaders need to be able to do well, but also how can they learn these things in the most efficient and durable way. Leadersmithing sets out a practical path to mastery and provides the toolkit leaders will really need. After I wrote it, I took on some senior leadership roles of my own. Even before Covid I had stress-tested the wisdom of this book, and post-covid I am even more confident that this leadership book really helps.

Eve's book list on what you really need to know about leadership

Eve Poole Why did Eve love this book?

Epictetus is the Stoic who inspired the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Stoicism is the intellectual origin of cognitive behavioral therapy and a way for leaders to train themselves to focus on the things they can change, rather than breaking their hearts over things over which they have no control. The Enchiridion has the virtue of being much shorter than Aurelius’ Meditations, and contains pithy observations and advice like ‘it is not events that disturb people, it is their judgment concerning them,’ and ‘don’t hope that events will turn out the way you want, welcome events in whichever way they happen: this is the path to peace.’ Leaders need to be good at detachment, and Stoicism can provide valuable tools to help.

By Epictetus, George Long,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Although he was born into slavery and endured a permanent physical disability, Epictetus (ca. 50–ca. 130 CE) maintained that all people are free to control their lives and live in harmony with nature. We will always be happy, he argued, if we learn to desire that things should be exactly as they are. After attaining his freedom, Epictetus spent his career teaching philosophy and advising a daily regimen of self-examination. His pupil Arrian later collected and published the master's lecture notes; the Enchiridion, or Manual, is a distillation of Epictetus's teachings and an instruction manual for a tranquil life. Full…


Book cover of How to Die: An Ancient Guide to the End of Life

Scott Samuelson Author Of Rome as a Guide to the Good Life: A Philosophical Grand Tour

From my list on finding the meaning of life in Rome.

Why am I passionate about this?

After learning Latin in college and studying Italian philosophy in graduate school, I stumbled into Rome for the first time over a decade ago as faculty on a study-abroad trip. In two weeks, I learned more about history and life than I had in two decades of study. I’ve been lucky enough to go back every summer since, with the sad exception of the pandemic years. I adore Rome. It didn’t help that a few years ago, in the Basilica of San Clemente, I fell head over heels for a Renaissance art historian and tried her patience with poetry until she married me.

Scott's book list on finding the meaning of life in Rome

Scott Samuelson Why did Scott love this book?

All the easily-portable volumes in Princeton University Press’s “Ancient Wisdom for Modern Readers” can be read in the time it takes to drink two glasses of wine (along with this book, one of my other favorites is How to Drink by the Renaissance humanist Vincent Obsopoeus).

For all their quarrels, ancient philosophers agree that the art of life is the preparation for death. Nobody expresses that wisdom with more panache than Seneca, a philosopher, financier, tutor to Nero, and playwright.

This selection from his works teaches us how to face the death and destruction that we see everywhere in Rome—and everywhere else too.

I turn to Seneca’s essays and letters for a good reminder to live with a minimum of regret and resentment.

By Seneca, James S. Romm (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Timeless wisdom on death and dying from the celebrated Stoic philosopher Seneca

"It takes an entire lifetime to learn how to die," wrote the Roman Stoic philosopher Seneca (c. 4 BC-65 AD). He counseled readers to "study death always," and took his own advice, returning to the subject again and again in all his writings, yet he never treated it in a complete work. How to Die gathers in one volume, for the first time, Seneca's remarkable meditations on death and dying. Edited and translated by James S. Romm, How to Die reveals a provocative thinker and dazzling writer who…


Book cover of 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

Shannah Kennedy and Colleen Callander Author Of Elevate: Unlock Your Extraordinary Potential

From my list on that will change your life.

Why are we passionate about this?

We are thrilled to present this carefully curated book list. As passionate advocates for leadership, self-mastery, and health and well-being, we have handpicked these titles to inspire and empower individuals on their journey toward personal and professional growth. Each book within this collection resonates with principles that we believe are pivotal for fostering resilience, achieving self-mastery, and maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Whether you're seeking leadership insights, self-help guidance, or ways to enhance your overall well-being, these books offer a diverse range of perspectives and actionable strategies. We hope this collection becomes a valuable resource for you on your path to personal excellence. – Colleen Callander & Shannah Kennedy. 

Shannah's book list on that will change your life

Shannah Kennedy and Colleen Callander Why did Shannah love this book?

I loved this book. It was a thought-provoking guide to navigating life's challenges and complexities. I especially loved the way Jordan Peterson drew on psychology, philosophy, and personal anecdotes to impart practical principles for finding meaning and purpose.

Each rule serves as a roadmap for self-improvement, urging you to confront challenges, take responsibility, and strive for a meaningful existence. Jordan Peterson's insights are both profound and accessible, providing me with a framework for personal growth in a world often marked by chaos.

Whether exploring the nature of truth or the importance of standing tall, this book is a compelling and enriching read.

By Jordan B. Peterson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked 12 Rules for Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Penguin presents the CD edition of 12 Rules for Life written and read by Jordan B. Peterson

Jordan Peterson's work as a clinical psychologist has reshaped the modern understanding of personality, and now he has become one of the world's most popular public thinkers, with his lectures on topics ranging from the Bible to romantic relationships drawing tens of millions of viewers. In an era of polarizing politics, echo chambers and trigger warnings, his startling message about the value of personal responsibility and the dangers of ideology has resonated around the world.

In this book, he combines ancient wisdom with…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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