The best Aristotle books

3 authors have picked their favorite books about Aristotle and why they recommend each book.

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Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything

By Raquel Vasquez Gilliland,

Book cover of Sia Martinez and the Moonlit Beginning of Everything

The less I say about the plot of this book, the better your reading experience will be. I avoided reading the flap copy, and I recommend you do too. What I can promise you is this: a book set in Arizona and firmly grounded in the reality of racism and deportation in the USA, mixed together with spirituality, mythology, sci-fi pop culture, a surprising solution to a mystery, and, just possibly, aliens from outer space. Plus, beautiful writing! This is one of those books with super short chapters, each of which is a little gem. I loved it.


Who am I?

As a reader and writer, I work with a pretty broad definition of “mystery.” You’ll find my own novels in the fantasy section of the bookstore, but my books are mysteries too — and romances, and tales of adventure, and intimate character studies, and reflections on our reality, no matter how fantastical the worlds in which they take place. I love melding genres! So when I think of my favorite mysteries, I try not to limit myself to the mystery section of the bookstore. Few things make me happier than discovering partway through a book that a mystery has been building that I didn’t even notice.


I wrote...

Winterkeep

By Kristin Cashore,

Book cover of Winterkeep

What is my book about?

For the past five years, Bitterblue has reigned as Queen of Monsea, heroically rebuilding her nation after her father's horrific rule. After learning about the land of Torla in the east, she sends envoys to the closest nation there: Winterkeep—a place where telepathic foxes bond with humans, and people fly across the sky in wondrous airships. But when the envoys never return, having drowned under suspicious circumstances, Bitterblue sets off for Winterkeep herself, along with her spy Hava and her trusted colleague Giddon. On the way, tragedy strikes again.

Meanwhile, in Winterkeep, Lovisa Cavenda waits and watches. The teenage daughter of two powerful politicians, she is the key to unlocking everything—but only if she's willing to transcend the person she's been all her life.

The Writer's Compass

By Nancy Ellen Dodd,

Book cover of The Writer's Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages

If you’re struggling to find the right plot progression, this book helps with tips on how to map out the storyline. It’s helped me tremendously in several of my own novels. Any writer who cares about making an exceptional plot should have this book in their personal library.


Who am I?

I’ve been a writer since I was fourteen (possibly before that) and I’ve been an official freelance proofreader/copyeditor since 2019. I’ve published over thirty books and proofread or copyedited over sixty-two manuscripts as of this writing. I’ve garnered enough experience in both fields to, at least, be considered.


I wrote...

Make Your Writing Zing With Proofreading A Through Z!: Tips for Writers, Authors, and Publishers Alike

By John Irvin,

Book cover of Make Your Writing Zing With Proofreading A Through Z!: Tips for Writers, Authors, and Publishers Alike

What is my book about?

Do you love words and writing them down? Are you afraid your book isn’t going to quite cut it because you just know there are some typos in there? Are you unsure about a specific spelling or punctuation rule? This book gives fun little tips that could help any author or book publisher who cares about their writing!

Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine

By Peter Garnsey,

Book cover of Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine

Peter Garnsey was my PhD supervisor and he is a generous soul with a love of big topics. This book gives an overview of the many ways in which the ancients thought about slavery. It is true that there was no Roman abolition movement, but many ancient writers thought deeply about slavery and the issues involved. Sometimes they justified it, other times they criticised it, but throughout slavery was seen as unavoidable. The Christians called their God “dominus” just as slaves would have done their master.


Who am I?

I'm the Director of Studies in Classics at Churchill College, Cambridge University. My research looks at Roman cultural history, with a focus on history "from below," meaning that I'm most interested in ordinary Romans, slaves and the poor. There have been thirty-five translations of my books into sixteen languages. I come from a modest background and was the first in my family to go to university. I found moving up the social ladder a bewildering and sometimes terrifying experience. Classics back then was still an elite subject, dominated by people from wealthy backgrounds. My research interests have always reflected my fascination with those at the bottom of the social ladder.


I wrote...

The Roman Guide to Slave Management: A Treatise by Nobleman Marcus Sidonius Falx

By Jerry Toner,

Book cover of The Roman Guide to Slave Management: A Treatise by Nobleman Marcus Sidonius Falx

What is my book about?

My book provides a clear and simple manual for managing slaves the Roman way. Full of details of the reality of ancient slavery, its shows how the Roman world, for all its apparent familiarity, was almost casually shocking.

I wrote it in the guise of Marcus Sidonius Falx, a Roman of noble birth, because I wanted to get across how normal slavery was back then. I also wanted to expose how dreadful it was from the inside. My book is based on lots of original sources to show all the details, like how they bought slaves and then got the best from them. It talks about what made a good slave, how you punished bad slaves, whether you could have sex with them and how you set them free.

Nicomachean Ethics

By Aristotle, David Mills Daniel,

Book cover of Nicomachean Ethics

This may not be the best place to start, but sooner or later you’ll want to land here. Aristotle’s view of a good life, one that involves developing virtuous ways of being, is surprisingly contemporary. And unlike a lot of contemporary philosophy, he has deep reflections on the role of friendship in creating a worthwhile life.


Who am I?

Todd May has been teaching philosophy for over thirty years. He is the author of sixteen books of philosophy, many of which have been praised for their clarity and relevance to people reflecting on their lives. He was also a philosophical advisor to the hit television sit-com The Good Place.


I wrote...

A Significant Life: Human Meaning in a Silent Universe

By Todd May,

Book cover of A Significant Life: Human Meaning in a Silent Universe

What is my book about?

What makes for a good life, or a beautiful one, or, perhaps most important, a meaningful one? Throughout history, most of us have looked to our faith, our relationships, or our deeds for the answer. But in A Significant Life, philosopher Todd May offers an exhilarating new way of thinking about these questions, one deeply attuned to life as it actually is: a work in progress, a journey—and often a narrative. Offering moving accounts of his own life and memories alongside rich engagements with philosophers from Aristotle to Wittgenstein and Bernard Williams, he shows us where to find the significance of our lives: in the way we live them.

How Much Is Enough?

By Edward Skidelsky, Robert Skidelsky,

Book cover of How Much Is Enough?: Money and the Good Life

Philosophies of simple living are often addressed primarily to the individuals who is seeking happiness. This is largely true, for instance, of both Epicureanism and Stoicism. How Much Is Enough? shows how the questions raised by such philosophies also bear on the economic policies and political culture of rich, modernized societies. The basic argument of the book is that it is foolish for these societies to strive for endless economic growth. They are already wealthy enough to provide the basic conditions of the good life for all their citizens, including a radical reduction in the hours that people need to work. But this isn't happening because capitalism continually inflames people's misguided desire for more stuff and higher status. So the machine just keeps on pointlessly creating desires while plutocrats keep creaming off the wealth of society which could otherwise be distributed more equitably and more rationally. The book offers a…


Who am I?

I am a philosopher who is especially interested in relating philosophy to everyday life. So I like to ask–and try to answer– questions such as: Why is frugality considered a moral virtue? Are there times when rudeness is justified? What makes some kinds of work shameful? I earned my Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin and am currently a Professor of Philosophy at Alfred University in Alfred, New York.


I wrote...

The Wisdom of Frugality: Why Less Is More - More or Less

By Emrys Westacott,

Book cover of The Wisdom of Frugality: Why Less Is More - More or Less

What is my book about?

From Socrates to Thoreau, most philosophers, moralists, and religious leaders have seen frugality as a virtue and have associated simple living with wisdom, integrity, and happiness. But why? And are they right? Is a taste for luxury fundamentally misguided? If one has the means to be a spendthrift, is it foolish or reprehensible to be extravagant?

In this book, Emrys Westacott examines why, for more than two millennia, so many philosophers and people with a reputation for wisdom have been advocating frugality and simple living as the key to the good life. He also looks at why most people have ignored them, but argues that, in a world facing an environmental crisis, it may finally be time to listen to the advocates of a simpler way of life.

Stoicism

By Brad Inwood,

Book cover of Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction

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.


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.


I wrote...

Unshakable Freedom: Ancient Stoic Secrets Applied to Modern Life

By Chuck Chakrapani,

Book cover of Unshakable Freedom: Ancient Stoic Secrets Applied to Modern Life

What is my book about?

Most of us are outwardly free but not inwardly so. Anger, fear, worry, and anxiety entrap us. Is it possible to be completely and utterly free no matter what is happening to us now and what may happen in the future? Yes, said the ancient Stoics and gave us a blueprint for a happy life. Two thousand years later their blueprint still works the way they said it would.

Unshakable Freedom brings Stoicism to the digital age. Using contemporary, as well as historical, examples of people who used Stoicism to achieve personal freedom, this book offers a path to the good life, including 12 specific mental exercises you can do to achieve personal freedom.

On Film-Making

By Alexander Mackendrick,

Book cover of On Film-Making: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director

Another book focusing on the medium of film, but again the lessons to be learned about good storytelling are universal. Alexander ‘Sandy’ Mackendrick directed such classic Ealing comedies as The Man in the White Suit and The Ladykillers, also the Hollywood masterpiece, Sweet Smell of Success. After retiring from filmmaking in 1969, he spent nearly 25 years as a professor at CalArts in Los Angeles where he helped students to write better stories and communicate them effectively through the craft of filmmaking.

This book is compiled from Mackendrick's legacy of masterly handouts and lectures. One section I found incredibly insightful is his comparison of two versions of a key scene from the script of Sweet Smell of Success (initially written by Ernest Lehman and subsequently rewritten by Clifford Odets), seeing how increased tension between the characters is achieved.


Who am I?

I’m an artist, designer, writer. I usually work in collage. I enjoy how the constraints of collage generate more inventive thinking, forcing me to come up with unexpected solutions. I also like how the found material retains traces of its original context. I’ve always been interested in the interplay between words and images – for 15 years I did the weekly Lost Consonants series in the Weekend Guardian – and that gradually led me to writing fiction. All my books have visual or structural elements designed to bring an additional narrative dimension to the story. Over the years, I’ve become fascinated by what makes great stories great. Hence this list.


I wrote...

Woman's World: A Novel

By Graham Rawle,

Book cover of Woman's World: A Novel

What is my book about?

Five years in the making, Woman’s World is a 437-page novel collaged entirely from fragments of text clipped from the pages of vintage women’s magazines, reassembled to tell the 1962 story of Roy and his sister Norma’s struggle to live up to the prescribed ideals of feminine perfection. Immersing herself in the forthright directives on feminine protocol, Norma takes on the source material’s distinctive voice. The gulf between the magazines’ demanding standards and her real-life situation is bridged by the newfound vocabulary.

Empowered by its authoritative tone, she adopts and reshapes the words themselves to recount her thoughts, but what emerges is a tender love story threatened by darker underlying themes of unresolved family business.

Essays on the Aristotelian Tradition

By Sir Anthony Kenny,

Book cover of Essays on the Aristotelian Tradition

Readers seriously interested in the continuing influence of Aristotle on Western and global thinking will find the short book of Sir Anthony Kenney’s essays both useful and enjoyable. The author, a well-known authority on the history of Western philosophy, Thomas Aquinas, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, writes with panache on a wide variety of topics relevant to Aristotelian thought and modern intellectual and social life.      


Who am I?

I’m a professor of conflict resolution at George Mason University and have been working for years trying to understand the causes of and methods of resolving religious conflicts. I studied the Middle Ages thinking that I’d find a story about Catholic fundamentalists persecuting innovative thinkers like Copernicus and Galileo. Instead, I found a story about religious leaders such as Pope Innocent III, Peter Abelard, and Thomas Aquinas borrowing ideas from the Greeks, Muslims, and Jews, revolutionizing Catholic thought, and opening the door to modern ideas about the power of reason and the need for compassion. What a trip!            


I wrote...

Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages

By Richard E. Rubenstein,

Book cover of Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Middle Ages

What is my book about?

Conventional history tells us that the Middle Ages were a time of backwardness and superstition. Schoolchildren are still taught that modern science wasn’t born until late in the Renaissance, when innovators like Copernicus and Galileo challenged the ancient view of the cosmos embraced by the Roman Catholic Church. But wait! The Church actually sponsored a revolution in theology, ethics, and science beginning in the 1100s, when Aristotle’s lost works were discovered in Arab Spain, translated into Latin, and taught in Europe’s new universities.

Remarkably, the Church allowed its own worldview to be transformed by these challenging discoveries, laying the foundations for modern Western consciousness.  This book shows that religion does not have to be “fundamentalist” or anti-science. In important ways, we are all Aristotle’s children.          

Aristotle's Politics

By Aristotle, Carnes Lord (translator),

Book cover of Aristotle's Politics

Reading Aristotle is easier than you might think. Even those who are not able to read him in the original Greek cannot fail to be enamoured by his enthusiasm. What is so fascinating about Aristotle’s Politika (in English normally translated as The Politics) is the way this enormously erudite man got carried away babbling and digressing in his lectures. Aristotle, simply, could not help but tell his students about a certain Hippodamus (“the son of Eryphon”). This 5th Century BC Athenian was, “the first man not engaged in politics to speak on the subject of the best Constitution,” and, according to Aristotle, this first philosopher of politics, was, “somewhat eccentric in his general mode of life owing to his desire for distinction [he] lived fussily, with a quantity of hair and expensive ornaments and a quantity of cheap clothes – not only in winter but also in the…


Who am I?

"Why don’t they want to have their own country?” I asked this question as I was 12 years old and we were watching the results of the Quebec independence referendums coming in. The Quebecois nationalists had lost- and lost big. And I wanted to know why. I grew up in a political family but none of the adults were able to give me an answer. So, I began to do research on my own. Being a bit of an obsessive, my interest in referendums took me to Oxford University, and as a professor I have specialised in direct democracy. I have advised the US State Department and the British Foreign Office on referendums around the world – and written several books on democracy. 


I wrote...

Referendums and Ethnic Conflict

By Matt Qvortrup,

Book cover of Referendums and Ethnic Conflict

What is my book about?

At the time of writing President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine has proposed a referendum on Ukraine’s status. At the same time, so-called separatists in areas occupied by Russia are planning a vote on their status. These are timely examples of how direct democracy and nationalism collide. What are we to make of this. Can referendums be used to resolve ethnic tensions? And, if so, how? Although referendums have been used for centuries to settle ethnonational conflicts, there has yet been no systematic study or generalized theory concerning their effectiveness.

Referendums and Ethnic Conflict fills the gap with a comparative and empirical analysis of all the referendums held on ethnic and national issues from the French Revolution to the 2020 referendum on independence in Bougainville (currently a part of Papua New Guinea).

The Metaphysics

By Aristotle,

Book cover of The Metaphysics

Aristotle’s Metaphysics marks the beginning of attempts to articulate the philosophy of metaphysics as a science. Retrospectively applying Kant’s division of metaphysics as transcendental philosophy to Aristotle’s writings: Aristotle’s Metaphysics is an in-depth examination of cosmological and theological metaphysics.

I personally enjoy Aristotle’s Metaphysics because it is mysterious. It is difficult to read, and the fact that it was written with an entirely different alphabet is exciting. Aristotle’s Metaphysics is his attempt to systematically blend his particular preference for empiricism with metaphysical insights learned from Plato’s philosophy.

The history of Aristotle’s Metaphysics – in terms of, for example, its title and organization – is fascinating in itself; however, what always stood out for me was recognizing Aristotle’s own excitement. Book 5 of his Metaphysics is often thought of as a kind of metaphysical dictionary, and shortly after this summary of vocabulary terms, it is as if Aristotle grabs hold of…


Who am I?

I am a classically and formally trained philosopher. I have a Doctorate in Philosophy from Duquesne University (2011). I've been interested in philosophy for as long as I can remember; however, I began formally studying philosophy when I first discovered the work of Friedrich Nietzsche. I began teaching philosophy at the university level in 2004. I've taught over 100 university-level courses, including graduate-level courses in both philosophy and psychology. I'm presently finishing my tenth philosophy book, along with over 50 professional peer-reviewed articles in philosophy. These days my attention is devoted to sharing philosophy on the internet through The Philosophemes YouTube Channel, @Philosophemes on Instagram, and the Basic Philosophical Questions Podcast


I wrote...

The Philosophy of Being in the Analytic, Continental, and Thomistic Traditions: Divergence and Dialogue

By Frank Scalambrino, Joseph P. Li Vecchi, David K. Kovacs

Book cover of The Philosophy of Being in the Analytic, Continental, and Thomistic Traditions: Divergence and Dialogue

What is my book about?

The Philosophy of Being provides a discussion of the philosophy of being according to three major traditions in Western philosophy, the Analytic, the Continental, and the Thomistic. The origin of each of these traditions is associated with a seminal figure, Gottlob Frege, Immanuel Kant, and Thomas Aquinas, respectively. The questions addressed in this book are constitutional for the philosophy of being, considering the meaning of being, the relationship between thinking and being, and the methods for using thought to access being.

It honors diversity and pluralism, as it highlights how the three traditions may be clearly and distinctly differentiated regarding the philosophy of being. It also honors a sense of solidarity and ecumenism, as it demonstrates how the methods and focal points of these traditions continue to shape the development of Western philosophy. 

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