100 books like The Denial of Death

By Ernest Becker,

Here are 100 books that The Denial of Death fans have personally recommended if you like The Denial of Death. 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 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 Red Lion: The Elixir of Eternal Life

Gabriel Dee Author Of The Power of Death: A Radical Path to Personal Transformation and Spiritual Enlightenment

From my list on spiritual books only a few people read.

Why am I passionate about this?

Gabriel Dee is a mystic, author, spiritual teacher, and the founder of Immortology. At the age of 26, he became a seeker and became enlightened on the 11th of March, 2011. He experienced most of the spiritual methods of the world and traveled to India to learn more about healing, hypnosis, and meditation. His main teaching is making people face their own mortality, and then going beyond it to realize their immortality.

Gabriel's book list on spiritual books only a few people read

Gabriel Dee Why did Gabriel love this book?

Let me begin the list with a Hungarian classic, The Red Lion from Maria Szepes. She was a prolific hermetic author, perhaps the most famous in my country. Her flagship book helped introduce hermeticism, alchemy, and spirituality in general after the Second World War. I found this to be a very readable, enjoyable and illuminating novel wrapped into a beautiful story.

By Maria Szepes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Conceived amidst the horrors and hellfire of the Second World War, Mria Szepes' novel about a man's search for the Elixir of Life offered a glimpse of hope at a time of con-flagration. By giving a broad cosmic perspective to the events touching the lives of everyone in Europe in those years, she put human existence in a broader scale extending beyond daily life and put forth a reason for existence within the entirety of the Universe. After the war this remarkable book was published in Budapest but was soon banned by the government. Following decades of hibernation, like the…


Book cover of The Book of Secrets: 112 Meditations to Discover the Mystery Within

Gabriel Dee Author Of The Power of Death: A Radical Path to Personal Transformation and Spiritual Enlightenment

From my list on spiritual books only a few people read.

Why am I passionate about this?

Gabriel Dee is a mystic, author, spiritual teacher, and the founder of Immortology. At the age of 26, he became a seeker and became enlightened on the 11th of March, 2011. He experienced most of the spiritual methods of the world and traveled to India to learn more about healing, hypnosis, and meditation. His main teaching is making people face their own mortality, and then going beyond it to realize their immortality.

Gabriel's book list on spiritual books only a few people read

Gabriel Dee Why did Gabriel love this book?

The next one on my list of the top 5 spiritual books is The Book of Secrets by Osho. He is my favorite spiritual teacher, and although he never wrote any books, the texts from his speeches were published in several compilations. Everything you read from him can be useful, but this book stands above the rest in its length, depth and practicality.

This book is based on a 5000 year old tantric scripture consisting of 112 meditations to achieve liberation. What Osho basically does is that he adds commentaries and his own experiences to each of the techniques, thereby making them understandable and practical for the modern seeker. If I had to recommend any book on meditation, it would definitely be this one.

By Osho,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this comprehensive and practical guide, the secrets of the ancient science of Tantra become available to a contemporary audience. Confined to small, hidden mystery schools for centuries, and often misunderstood and misinterpreted today. Tantra is not just a collection of techniques to enhance sexual experience. As Osho shows in these pages, it is a complete science of self-realization, based on the cumulative wisdom of centuries of exploration into the meaning of life and consciousness. Tantra-the very word means "technique"-is a set of powerful, transformative tools that can be used to bring new meaning and joy to every aspect of…


Book cover of Living with the Himalayan Masters

Gabriel Dee Author Of The Power of Death: A Radical Path to Personal Transformation and Spiritual Enlightenment

From my list on spiritual books only a few people read.

Why am I passionate about this?

Gabriel Dee is a mystic, author, spiritual teacher, and the founder of Immortology. At the age of 26, he became a seeker and became enlightened on the 11th of March, 2011. He experienced most of the spiritual methods of the world and traveled to India to learn more about healing, hypnosis, and meditation. His main teaching is making people face their own mortality, and then going beyond it to realize their immortality.

Gabriel's book list on spiritual books only a few people read

Gabriel Dee Why did Gabriel love this book?

The third book I would suggest is Living with the Himalayan Masters by Swami Rama. Written as an autobiography, this book follows the life of a famous spiritual teacher, and his many adventures on his path to becoming one. I personally love biographies, and this was one of the most interesting ones for me. I think you would get just as inspired by it as me, and you could even continue with The Autobiography of a Yogi by Yogananda.

By Swami Rama,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Living with the Himalayan Masters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I will tell you how I grew up and how I was trained, about the great sages with whom I lived and what they taught me, not through lectures and books but through experiences," writes Sri Swami Rama in the opening pages of this timeless saga.

These stories record his personal quest for truth and enlightenment. Inspiring, lluminating, entertaining, mystifying, and frequently droll and humorous, they bring you face-to-face with some great Himalayan Masters including Mataji of Assam, a ninety-six year old lady sage who never slept; Gudari Baba, who taught Swami Rama the value of direct experience; Yogi Sri…


Book cover of I Am That

Kate Gustin Author Of The No-Self Help Book: Forty Reasons to Get Over Your Self and Find Peace of Mind

From my list on spiritual books to find out who you really are.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve spent my professional life as a psychologist delving into the inner workings of the “self.” After working with thousands of clients over the past twenty-five years, I’ve come to understand the liabilities and limitations of the mind’s constructed sense of personhood. These books, including the one I wrote, attempt to address the ages-old question of “who am I?” from a different perspective than that of conventional conceptual identity. They transmit something to us about the core consciousness of our make-up that we may know intuitively but do not encounter often in western discourse. If you’re a truth seeker, curious about your essential nature, then I’m sure you’ll find them compelling. 

Kate's book list on spiritual books to find out who you really are

Kate Gustin Why did Kate love this book?

I love this book!  I’ve returned to it many times over the years. It’s my rock. It contains a series of questions and responses of students in dialogue with the well-known Indian sage Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. His teachings are direct, down-to-earth, and very timely, in that they address matters of continued importance to all of us: the nature of reality, suffering, mind, body, agency, fear, happiness, peace…and pretty much every truth you can think of!  It’s 550 pages of unadulterated wisdom.   

By Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Back cover This collection of the timeless teachings of one of the greatest sages of India, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, is a testament to the uniqueness of the seer's life and work and is regarded by many as a modern spiritual classic. I Am That (first published in 1973) continues to draw new audiences and to enlighten seekers anxious for self-realization. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj was a teacher who did not propound any ideology or religion, but gently unwrapped the mystery of the self. His message was simple, direct, and sublime. I Am That preserves his dialogs with the followers who came…


Book cover of Collapse

Mordecai George Sheftall Author Of Blossoms In The Wind: Human Legacies of the Kamikaze

From my list on how culture makes us do self-destructive things.

Why am I passionate about this?

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up expecting to spend that day – and the rest of my academic career – leisurely studying the interplay of culture and individual temperament in second language acquisition. As the rest of that terrible day unfolded, however, my research up to that point suddenly seemed very small and almost decadently privileged. Recruiting the rudimentary cultural anthropology toolbox I had already amassed, I took a deep breath and plunged into the rabbit hole of studying the role of culture in human conflict. Twenty-two years later, using my Japan base and relevant language skills, my research has focused on the Japanese experience in World War II.

Mordecai's book list on how culture makes us do self-destructive things

Mordecai George Sheftall Why did Mordecai love this book?

Have you ever encountered an idea in a book that made such a lasting impression on you that, almost like the “flashbulb” memory of a life – or world-changing event, you can remember the exact circumstances of where you were when you first read it?

Jared Diamond’s Collapse – which I picked up at an airport bookshop as “light reading” for a long flight – ended up providing me with just such an experience. The book holds that culture can fatally inure us, like so many slowly (and initially comfortably) boiling frogs, to the existential threat of environmental destruction, particularly in the context of the overexploitation of natural resources.

Diamond’s account of the last days of Easter Island civilization is particularly harrowing, and has haunted me ever since.

By Jared Diamond,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the author of Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive is a visionary study of the mysterious downfall of past civilizations.

Now in a revised edition with a new afterword, Jared Diamond's Collapse uncovers the secret behind why some societies flourish, while others founder - and what this means for our future.

What happened to the people who made the forlorn long-abandoned statues of Easter Island?
What happened to the architects of the crumbling Maya pyramids?
Will we go the same way, our skyscrapers one day standing derelict and overgrown like the…


Book cover of The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature

Elaine Pagels Author Of Why Religion? A Personal Story

From my list on why religion and spirituality are still around.

Why am I passionate about this?

“And what do you do?” someone asked at a crowded reception at the NY Academy of Science. “Write—comparative religion.” Startled, he backed away, asking suspiciously, “Why religion? Are you religious?” Yes, incorrigibly—although I grew up among people who regarded religion as obsolete as an outgrown bicycle stashed in a back closet. While many of us leave institutions behind, identifying as “spiritual, not religious,” I’ve done both—had faith, lost it; then began exploring recent discoveries from Israel and Egypt—Dead Sea Scrolls, Christian “secret gospels,” Buddhist practices, asking, Why is religion still around in the twenty-first centuryWhat I love is how such stories, art, music, and rituals engage our imagination and illuminate our experience.

Elaine's book list on why religion and spirituality are still around

Elaine Pagels Why did Elaine love this book?

This book is full of stories, using case studies that include the lives of Walt Whitman, Saint Augustine, and Russian writer Leo Tolstoy—that I found fascinating. Here psychologist William James challenges what he—and I—were both taught: namely, that religions are primarily childish fantasies (the view of Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, in The Future of an Illusion). But after James, as a young man, experienced a terrifying depression, he describes his surprise at what felt to him like a spiritual breakthrough that enabled him to recover. James skips questions about dogma and belief, instead identifies a range of different “varieties of religious experience” that, far more than “belief,” can give rise to spiritual insight. 

By William James,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Varieties of Religious Experience as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Standing at the crossroads of psychology and religion, this catalyzing work applied the scientific method to a field abounding in abstract theory. William James believed that individual religious experiences, rather than the precepts of organized religions, were the backbone of the world's religious life. His discussions of conversion, repentance, mysticism and saintliness, and his observations on actual, personal religious experiences - all support this thesis. In his introduction, Martin E. Marty discusses how James's pluralistic view of religion led to his remarkable tolerance of extreme forms of religious behaviour, his challenging, highly original theories, and his welcome lack of pretension…


Book cover of The Divided Self: An Existential Study in Sanity and Madness

Tony Sandy Author Of Observations from Another Planet

From my list on the struggle to be yourself in a crazy world.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion and subsequent expertise in this subject have followed years of self-study and reading. I have tried to make sense of the conflicting views that the world has thrown at me, confusing me by each claiming to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (the seller's marketplace). The books in this series, reflect how difficult it is to be yourself and how much courage it takes to break free of your conditioning, parental or societal. It covers the necessary breakdown of the internal personality, so that a new you can emerge from the cocoon of the reassembled old you, butterfly-like.

Tony's book list on the struggle to be yourself in a crazy world

Tony Sandy Why did Tony love this book?

The Divided Self kick-started my search for the truth of the human condition. It taught me that I didn't have to follow the life laid out for me and that I was expected to follow. Through it I discovered that I was not the only person trapped in a world and struggling to make sense of the bizarre and contradictory reality around me, that lied and lied about existence continually. Further books by him reinforced this awareness of the illogic of it all, including The Politics of Experience, The Self and Others, and Knots. I was Brer Rabbit, caught in the honey trap of the tar baby and this book showed me that.

By R.D. Laing,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Presenting case studies of schizophrenic patients, Laing aims to make madness and the process of going mad comprehensible. He also offers an existential analysis of personal alienation.


Book cover of The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life

Mordecai George Sheftall Author Of Blossoms In The Wind: Human Legacies of the Kamikaze

From my list on how culture makes us do self-destructive things.

Why am I passionate about this?

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I woke up expecting to spend that day – and the rest of my academic career – leisurely studying the interplay of culture and individual temperament in second language acquisition. As the rest of that terrible day unfolded, however, my research up to that point suddenly seemed very small and almost decadently privileged. Recruiting the rudimentary cultural anthropology toolbox I had already amassed, I took a deep breath and plunged into the rabbit hole of studying the role of culture in human conflict. Twenty-two years later, using my Japan base and relevant language skills, my research has focused on the Japanese experience in World War II.

Mordecai's book list on how culture makes us do self-destructive things

Mordecai George Sheftall Why did Mordecai love this book?

Solomon et al experienced eureka moments similar to my own when they read Ernest Becker as young social psychologists in the 1980s.

Combining their research efforts, they set out to provide “hard” empirical evidence that would support Becker’s cultural thesis. In the process, they developed what eventually became known as “Terror Management Theory” (TMT).

This went on to become one of the biggest influences on social psychology since Leon Festinger’s 1950s work on cognitive dissonance, enjoying perhaps its greatest notoriety in the first few years after 9/11.

The Worm at the Core is an excellent “one-stop shopping” choice as a primer for basic TMT. Once you add Solomon et al’s ideas to your mental toolbox, you will never look at the world the same way again.

By Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, Tom Pyszczynski

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Worm at the Core as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Proof of a ground-breaking psychological theory: that the fear of death is the hidden motive behind almost everything we do.

'A joy ... The Worm at the Core asks how humans can learn to live happily while being intelligently aware of our impending doom, how knowledge of death affects the decisions we make every day, and how we can stop fear and anxiety overwhelming us' Charlotte Runcie, Daily Telegraph

'Provocative, lucid and fascinating' Financial Times

'An important, superbly readable and potentially life-changing book . . . suggests one should confront mortality in order to live an authentic life' Tim Lott,…


Book cover of Otto Rank: A Rediscovered Legacy

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 book summarizes the contributions of Otto Rank, the brilliant and influential psychoanalyst. Rank focused on two core psychological motivations, the desires for psychological security on the one hand, and for stimulation, growth, and creativity on the other. His work illuminates how these desires often work in concert but also often can be in opposition over the course of the lifespan, contributing to guilt, anxiety, and stunting growth. Rank’s analysis inspired the development of both existential psychology and humanistic psychology. Rank’s approach to psychological well-being is based on accepting and even affirming the limitations of life, understanding what you really want in life, and developing the will to move creatively toward achieving those goals so that one can live an authentic and satisfying life.   

By Esther Menaker,

Why should I read it?

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


5 book lists we think you will like!

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