The most recommended Irvin Yalom books

Who picked these books? Meet our 8 experts.

8 authors created a book list connected to Irvin Yalom, and here are their favorite Irvin Yalom books.
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Book cover of Love's Executioner: & Other Tales of Psychotherapy

Charisse Cooke Author Of The Attachment Solution: How to develop secure, strong and lasting relationships

From my list on how to create a great relationship.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was fortunate enough to meet my husband over 17 years ago, and we have packed a lot of life in since then. Along with two kids and a dog, we’ve had our fair share of tough moments: financial challenges, bereavement, family issues, marital disagreement, and traumatic life events that taught me just as much as my two decades-long career as a relationship psychotherapist has. This, combined with working with individuals, couples, and partners in search of what love means and how to practically go about achieving it, has clarified for me just how much we all need tools and teachings when it comes to matters of the heart.

Charisse's book list on how to create a great relationship

Charisse Cooke Why did Charisse love this book?

I devoured this book and its main premise: that to be a therapist is a great art and a deep discipline. Yalom is the inspiration for many psychology and psychotherapy students and trainees, and for good reason. He is the kindly, wise father many of us wish we had.

I adored this book for its insights into psychotherapy and the therapy room and for the tenderness with which Yalom treats his patients. He was also one of the first professionals to openly and publicly share his own emotions and thoughts about his patients and being a therapist. He powerfully puts forward the ‘human first, therapist second’ philosophy, one that informed my work fundamentally. He takes chances, loves his patients sincerely, and, as a result, was a hugely respected clinician who taught as well as he practiced. It is a great read for patients and therapists alike.  

By Irvin Yalom,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Love's Executioner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The collection of ten absorbing tales by master psychotherapist Irvin D. Yalom uncovers the mysteries, frustrations, pathos, and humour at the heart of the therapeutic encounter. In recounting his patients' dilemmas, Yalom not only gives us a rare and enthralling glimpse into their personal desires and motivations but also tells us his own story as he struggles to reconcile his all-too human responses with his sensibility as a psychiatrist. Not since Freud has an author done so much to clarify what goes on between a psychotherapist and a patient.


Book cover of Existential Psychotherapy

Zachary Elwood Author Of Verbal Poker Tells

From my list on understanding human behavior.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former professional poker player and the author of a trilogy of books on poker behavior (aka poker tells). I have a psychology podcast called People Who Read People. I also do some independent research and writing: my research into online deception has been featured in the NY Times and Washington Post, and other places. I’ve been interested in psychology since I was a kid, probably due to my dad’s eclectic bookshelf that included a bunch of psychology and philosophy books.

Zachary's book list on understanding human behavior

Zachary Elwood Why did Zachary love this book?

This is a psychology book, maybe not what some would consider about “behavior,” and it’s a fairly heavy and dense one. But I feel I must include it as it has helped me understand human mental struggles more than any other book I’ve read. And a key part of understanding human behavior, especially the broader societal and political aspects, is understanding those dark, often under-the-surface struggles that we all deal with. It is the wisest book I’ve ever read, and I have bought it for many people. Yalom has become a sort of secular guru for me. It is that good.

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Existential therapy has been practiced and continues to be practiced in many forms and situations throughout the world. But until now, it has lacked a coherent structure, and analysis of its tenets, and an evaluation of its usefulness. Irvin Yalom, whose Theory and Practice of Group Psychotherapy has rendered such a service to that discipline since 1970, provides existential psychotherapy with a background, a synthesis, and a framework.Organized around what Yalom identifies as the four ultimate concerns of life",death, freedom, existential isolation, and meaninglessness,the book takes up the meaning of each existential concern and the type of conflict that springs…


Book cover of Becoming Myself: A Psychiatrist's Memoir

Will Meyerhofer Author Of Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

From my list on Irvin Yalom.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychotherapist, with a private practice, and the author of several books. Like me, Yalom is a psychotherapist as well as an author, and the best of his writing takes place in that heightened zone where emotions seem to crackle because two people are sustaining an authentic contact, actually being “there” with one another – like the very best, life-changing moments in psychotherapy. I dreamt last night about Irvin Yalom. So yeah, Yalom can get into your head, in a good way.

Will's book list on Irvin Yalom

Will Meyerhofer Why did Will love this book?

An absolutely gorgeous autobiography that never for a moment bogs down in the details, but soars above the timeline of Yalom's life by concerning itself chiefly with glimmers of insight, events that have lived on in his unconscious and formed him into the healer he became. Like all of Yalom's best work, I found myself reading it slowly, savoring every word. The honesty, if you open yourself to it, and accept that he really is telling you the honest to god truth, smacks you in the face like few authors I've ever encountered. I kept thinking, if I do enough psychotherapy for long enough, I might be able to pull off this degree of self-knowledge.

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'When Yalom publishes something - anything - I buy it, and he never disappoints. He's an amazing storyteller, a gorgeous writer, a great, generous, compassionate thinker, and - quite rightly - one of the world's most influential mental healthcare practitioners' Nicola Barker, Guardian Best Books of 2017

'Wonderful, compelling and as insightful about its subject and about the times he lived in as you could hope for. A fabulous read' Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

Irvin D. Yalom has made a career of investigating the lives of others. In Becoming Myself, his long-awaited memoir, he turns his therapeutic…


Book cover of Psychopathology of Everyday Life

Zachary Elwood Author Of Verbal Poker Tells

From my list on understanding human behavior.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a former professional poker player and the author of a trilogy of books on poker behavior (aka poker tells). I have a psychology podcast called People Who Read People. I also do some independent research and writing: my research into online deception has been featured in the NY Times and Washington Post, and other places. I’ve been interested in psychology since I was a kid, probably due to my dad’s eclectic bookshelf that included a bunch of psychology and philosophy books.

Zachary's book list on understanding human behavior

Zachary Elwood Why did Zachary love this book?

Freud gets a bad rap for a lot of things, and I’m on board for a lot of that criticism (for a great analysis of Freud’s major flaws, see my recommended book by Irvin Yalom below). But no matter his faults, Freud was a fantastic examiner of human behavior, of the little things in our daily lives, in our speech, in our dreams, that can contain meaning and give away our true feelings, our true motives. I read this book at a young age, and found it so elucidating about so much behavior we see around us every day, and from ourselves. It was also probably a key factor in my early interest in psychology.

By Sigmund Freud,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" Freud examines the psychological basis for the forgetting of names and words, the misuse of words in speech and in writing, and other similiar errors. Freud's examination of the subject is extensively discussed through the use of anecdotes and examples. "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" makes for one of Freud's more readable works.


Book cover of The Gift of Therapy: An Open Letter to a New Generation of Therapists and Their Patients

Will Meyerhofer Author Of Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

From my list on Irvin Yalom.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychotherapist, with a private practice, and the author of several books. Like me, Yalom is a psychotherapist as well as an author, and the best of his writing takes place in that heightened zone where emotions seem to crackle because two people are sustaining an authentic contact, actually being “there” with one another – like the very best, life-changing moments in psychotherapy. I dreamt last night about Irvin Yalom. So yeah, Yalom can get into your head, in a good way.

Will's book list on Irvin Yalom

Will Meyerhofer Why did Will love this book?

Probably the best place to start with Yalom, this book is a must-read for therapists, and I recommend it regularly to anyone getting started in the business, or even contemplating pursuing a career in psychotherapy. The hardest guide to write about psychotherapy is the book about “technique” - not the highfalutin theory laced with opaque language book, but the hands-on, “this is what you say when someone says this” or “here's what you can do when you run into someone in this sort of situation” book.  This is that book, and only Yalom, with his immense experience and humility, could pull off this slender guide, packed with the wisdom of decades of working, alone, in a room with another human being in pain.  I return to this book regularly and always find something new and useful in his words.

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Gift of Therapy is the new book from the bestselling author of Love's Executioner. The culmination of master psychiatrist Dr Irvin Yalom's forty-five years' work as a therapist, this book illustrates through real case studies how patients and therapists alike can get the most out of therapy. Presented as eighty-five 'tips' for 'beginner therapists', Yalom shares his own fresh approach and the insights he has gained while treating his patients. Personal, and sometimes provocative, Yalom includes some unorthodox suggestions: - Let the patient matter to you - Acknowledge your errors - Create a new therapy for each patient -…


Book cover of A Matter of Death and Life

Helen Epstein Author Of Getting Through It: My Year of Cancer during Covid

From my list on getting through cancer treatment.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a long-time journalist, wife, mother, and grandmother, who was diagnosed with GYN cancer at the beginning of the Covid pandemic in the spring of 2020. My usual subjects are the arts and trauma, but since I’m now one of the more than 600,000 American women with GYN cancer, I decided to write this report about my year of treatment. 

Helen's book list on getting through cancer treatment

Helen Epstein Why did Helen love this book?

A Matter of Life and Death is a deeply personal double memoir, written in alternating chapters by a long-married couple in their late 80s. Irvin Yalom is a psychiatrist and well-respected novelist; Marilyn Yalom, diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2019, was a professor of literature and women's studies. Emotionally intelligent and unusually articulate, the couple was married for 65 years. Though plodding at times, they document in detail the last year of Marilyn's life, from diagnosis to experimental treatment to hospice to physician-assisted death. It is written as a testament as well as a guide.

By Irvin D. Yalom, Marilyn Yalom,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Matter of Death and Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A year-long journey by the renowned psychiatrist and his writer wife after her terminal diagnosis, as they reflect on how to love and live without regret.

Internationally acclaimed psychiatrist and author Irvin Yalom devoted his career to counseling those suffering from anxiety and grief. But never had he faced the need to counsel himself until his wife, esteemed feminist author Marilyn Yalom, was diagnosed with cancer. In A Matter of Death and Life, Marilyn and Irv share how they took on profound new struggles: Marilyn to die a good death, Irv to live on without her.

In alternating accounts of…


Book cover of Momma and the Meaning of Life: Tales of Psychotherapy

Will Meyerhofer Author Of Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy

From my list on Irvin Yalom.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a psychotherapist, with a private practice, and the author of several books. Like me, Yalom is a psychotherapist as well as an author, and the best of his writing takes place in that heightened zone where emotions seem to crackle because two people are sustaining an authentic contact, actually being “there” with one another – like the very best, life-changing moments in psychotherapy. I dreamt last night about Irvin Yalom. So yeah, Yalom can get into your head, in a good way.

Will's book list on Irvin Yalom

Will Meyerhofer Why did Will love this book?

I love Yalom's books of what might, in lesser hands, be termed “case studies.” I say that because Yalom is constantly writing about his work with his patients, but they never feel like a “case study” - something plodding and formulaic and one-sided. In Yalom's hands the case studies are never mere discussions of the pathologies of his patient, but rise into a magical interplay between two equals, two human beings yearning for a way to connect and heal through authentic presence, honesty, and love. If there is “classic Yalom” it is probably these books. Creatures of a Day and Loves Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy are superb as well, and frankly, I tend to think of them all as parts of a whole, one big book of Yalom's shorter pieces in which he explores his work one-on-one with the hurting human beings who show up at his door.

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Momma and the Meaning of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Using the medium of six case studies, Dr Irvin Yalom reveals the intricacies of pyschological landscapes and the unique dynamics of clients and therapists.


Book cover of The Spinoza Problem

Elias Aboujaoude Author Of A Leader's Destiny: Why Psychology, Personality, and Character Make All the Difference

From my list on the psychological quest for meaning.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a psychiatry professor, researcher, and author at Stanford University. Besides OCD, my research has focused on the interface between technology and psychology, both in its negative manifestations (e.g., video game addiction, online narcissism, cyberbullying) and positive applications (e.g., telemedicine, virtual reality therapy, AI digital therapeutics). My reading tastes and non-scientific writing topics reflect the same interests—deep and highly personal psychological explorations of individuals on a quest for meaning or facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, symptoms, or character tests.  

Elias' book list on the psychological quest for meaning

Elias Aboujaoude Why did Elias love this book?

I loved the thrilling interweaving of historical fact with creative fiction, psychology with politics, and high Golden Age Amsterdam culture with Nazi Germany depravity.

Irv Yalom reimagines the inner lives of two men who couldn’t be more different, and whose individual and unique fates history still somehow found a way to unite. 

By Irvin Yalom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A haunting portrait of Arthur Rosenberg, one of Nazism's chief architects, and his obsession with one of history's most influential Jewish thinkers

In The Spinoza Problem, Irvin Yalom spins fact and fiction into an unforgettable psycho-philosophical drama. Yalom tells the story of the seventeenth-century thinker Baruch Spinoza, whose philosophy led to his own excommunication from the Jewish community, alongside that of the rise and fall of the Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg, who two hundred years later during World War II ordered his task force to plunder Spinoza's ancient library in an effort to deal with the Nazis' "Spinoza Problem."

Seamlessly…


Book cover of The Schopenhauer Cure

Anna Caltabiano Author Of The Seventh Miss Hatfield

From my list on exploring the transitions through life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always been interested in people—specifically exploring what makes us human from different angles and often different disciplines. Overtime, this has taken the shape of writing novels, studying biological anthropology, psychology, and medicine, and sometimes even just people watching. My novels have explored topics such as nonsuicidal self-injury, the pains of growing up, and growing up multicultural. I am currently pursuing a PhD in Psychology.

Anna's book list on exploring the transitions through life

Anna Caltabiano Why did Anna love this book?

Dr. Irvin Yalom is a writer and clinical practitioner who is beloved by many in the field of mental health and therapy. I, like many, admire the way in which he tackles the most difficult human dilemmas through intimate stories highlighting the universality of many of these topics. It was difficult for me to pick which of Dr. Yalom’s books to recommend, as I have thoroughly enjoyed each one I’ve read. However, The Schopenhauer Cure is particularly about confronting mortality—the realization of the ephemerality of life and the limitations and acceptance of what we can achieve. Through Dr. Yalom’s adroit depictions of Philip Slate and Julius Hertzfeld, we see the blurred edges of philosophy and psychology, where some of our most basic questions may best be addressed by the melding of the two.

By Irvin D. Yalom,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the internationally bestselling author of Love's Executioner and When Nietzsche Wept, comes a novel of group therapy with a cast of memorably wounded characters struggling to heal pain and change lives

Suddenly confronted with his own mortality after a routine checkup, eminent psychotherapist Julius Hertzfeld is forced to reexamine his life and work -- and seeks out Philip Slate, a sex addict whom he failed to help some twenty years earlier. Yet Philip claims to be cured -- miraculously transformed by the pessimistic teachings of German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer -- and is, himself, a philosophical counselor in training.

Philip's…