100 books like The Meditations

By Marcus Aurelius, Sam Torode, George Long (translator)

Here are 100 books that The Meditations fans have personally recommended if you like The Meditations. 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 Moral Letters to Lucilius

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

From my list on Stoicism from a psychiatrist and philosopher.

Who am I?

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?

Seneca lived through the reigns of all five Julio-Claudian emperors. His writings represent the most important body of primary material for ancient Stoicism. He wrote the Letters to Lucilius in his final years, intending them as his immortal legacy, prior to committing suicide on the order of Nero. The letters are an excellent entry point to Seneca, Stoicism, and philosophy in general. They collectively amount to a course in moral development and become longer and more technical as Lucilius appears to be making philosophical progress. Michel de Montaigne, the “French Seneca”, modelled his Essays upon the Letters, writing in one of them, “I have not devoted myself to any serious work except perhaps Plutarch and Seneca: but upon them, I draw as do the Danaids...”

By Seneca,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Moral Letters to Lucilius is a collection of 124 letters which were written by Seneca the Younger at the end of his life, during his retirement, and written after he had worked for the Emperor Nero for more than ten years. They are addressed to Lucilius, the then procurator of Sicily, although he is known only through Seneca's writings. Regardless of how Seneca and Lucilius actually corresponded, it is clear that Seneca crafted the letters with a broad readership in mind. The letters often begin with an observation on daily life before proceeding to an issue or principle that…


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.

Who am I?

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 Lectures and Fragments

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

From my list on Stoicism from a psychiatrist and philosopher.

Who am I?

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?

Musonius was a celebrated teacher who was thrice banished from Rome. He would often turn would-be students away, explaining to a young Epictetus that “the more one pushes the intelligent person away from the life he was born for, the more he inclines towards it.” His school, he often said, was not some concert hall, where people come to be entertained, but a hospital, where they come, in trepidation, to be treated. Thus, he measured the success of his lectures not by the applause that they received, but by the shock and awe to which they gave rise. The twenty-one lectures preserved in Stobaeus were recorded by one of his students. They are full of practical, everyday advice aimed at instilling virtue, and include a lecture on household furnishings and even one on hair.

By Musonius Rufus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"To relax the mind is to lose it."

Gaius Musonius Rufus (c. AD 30–100) was one of the four great Roman Stoic philosophers, the other three being Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, and Musonius’s pupil Epictetus. Rufus taught philosophy in Rome during the reign of Nero, as a consequence of which he was sent into exile in 65 AD to Gyaros, a barren island in the Aegean Sea. Because Stoicism was, for Musonius, not merely a philosophy but a guide to daily living, he has been called “The Roman Socrates.” The opinions of Musonius were collected by two of his students, Lucius…


Book cover of On Duties

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

From my list on Stoicism from a psychiatrist and philosopher.

Who am I?

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?

Was Cicero even a Stoic? The answer, as with all things Cicero, is complicated. But Stoic or not, Cicero is one of our most important sources on ancient Stoicism. His last work, On Duties, on our “duties” (or responsibilities) to one another as human beings, is heavily indebted to the Stoic Panaetius. In it, he argues, among others, that, owing to our common human dignity, there ought to be strict rules for entering and conducting war—an idea which today is enshrined in international law. Following the invention of the printing press, On Duties was the third ever book to be printed. John Locke owned nine editions, and Voltaire praised it to the sky, saying, “no one will ever write anything more wise.”

By Cicero,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This beautifully formatted philosophical treatise by Roman orator Cicero contains an active table of contents for easy travel throughout the eBook. De Officiis (On Duties or On Obligations) is a treatise by Marcus Tullius Cicero divided into three books, in which Cicero expounds his conception of the best way to live, behave, and observe moral obligations.

De Officiis was written in October–November 44 BC, in under four weeks. This was Cicero's last year alive, and he was 62 years of age. Cicero was at this time still active in politics, trying to stop revolutionary forces from taking control of the…


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.

Who am I?

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: A Guide for the Perplexed

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

From my list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius.

Who am I?

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 a short introduction to the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius written by an American professor of philosophy. A short biographical introduction is followed by chapters discussing some technical points of Marcus’ Stoic philosophy from the Meditations. I found the biography a good condensation of the details you’ll find in Birley’s book. Although this is designed as an introduction, it gets a little technical at times, so nonacademic readers might prefer to look at John Sellars’ book first. This book will help you to think more deeply about what Marcus is saying, though.

By William O. Stephens,

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?

This title presents the exploration of the life and philosophical reflections of this complex Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor. This book is a clear and concise introduction to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. His one major surviving work, often titled 'meditations' but literally translated simply as 'to himself', is a series of short, sometimes enigmatic reflections divided seemingly arbitrarily into twelve books and apparently written only to be read by him. For these reasons Marcus is a particularly difficult thinker to understand. His musings, framed as 'notes to self' or 'memoranda', are the exhortations of an earnest, conscientious Stoic…


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.

Who am I?

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 Meditations

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.

Who am I?

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?

While riding on the New York subway one day, the young woman sitting next to me was reading from the so-called “Little Black Book” (a collection of daily thoughts often read by members of Alcoholics Anonymous). After closing the book, she pulled out this very edition of Marcus Aurelius and I could not help but comment to her that she had made a great choice. Not only does the theme of the “Serenity Prayer” go back to Stoics, but Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations (literally titled “To Himself”) show the thoughtful and meditative side of Stoicism. In addition, Marcus Aurelius seems to be practicing what we now call spiritual exercises. Last, what is especially striking is that the Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote many of these entries while he was stuck on military campaigns; thus, we see up close a man utilizing Stoicism to grapple with the messiness of life.

By Marcus Aurelius, Martin Hammond (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?

'Their icy blasts are refreshing and restorative. They tell you the worst. And having heard the worst, you feel less bad' Blake Morrison

Written in Greek by the only Roman emperor who was also a philosopher, without any intention of publication, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius offer a remarkable series of challenging spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the emperor struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. While the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation and encouragement, Marcus Aurelius also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy: a timeless collection that has been…


Book cover of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

Vitaliy Katsenelson Author Of Soul in the Game: The Art of a Meaningful Life

From my list on that bring meaning to your life.

Who am I?

I am an investor who happens to love writing, music, and simply life in general. I was born in Murmansk, Russia, where I spent my first 18 years. My family moved to Denver in 1991, and I have lived there since. I’m CEO of IMA, a value investing firm where I have creative freedom to focus on things I love. I was so fortunate to stumble into writing; it has completely rewired my mind by providing a daily two-hour refuge for focused thinking. I am constantly on the lookout for new stories and fresh insights. Writing is what keeps me in student-of-life mode, and there is so much to learn!

Vitaliy's book list on that bring meaning to your life

Vitaliy Katsenelson Why did Vitaliy love this book?

While William Irvine’s book introduced me to Stoic philosophy, Donald took me further into the incredible life of Roman emperor and Stoic Marcus Aurelius. This book takes you deeper into Stoic philosophy. I get asked whom I’d want to have lunch with, dead or alive, and I answer Marcus Aurelius. During his reign he was the most powerful person in the Western hemisphere. History is littered with examples that prove Lord Acton’s quip “Power corrupts; absolutely power corrupts absolutely.” Marcus is a rare exception.

By Donald Robertson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked How to Think Like a Roman Emperor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This book is a wonderful introduction to one of history's greatest figures: Marcus Aurelius. His life and this book are a clear guide for those facing adversity, seeking tranquility and pursuing excellence." --Ryan Holiday, bestselling author of The Obstacle is the Way and The Daily Stoic

The life-changing principles of Stoicism taught through the story of its most famous proponent.

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think…


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.

Who am I?

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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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