44 books directly related to Plato 📚

All 44 Plato books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

Phaedrus

By Plato,

Book cover of Phaedrus

Why this book?

I frequently return to Plato and his portrayal of Socrates. The Phaedrus intrigues me. It is a difficult work for piecing together, yet with fascinating thoughts, taking us from rhetoric to erotic love to the search for Beauty, Truth, the Good.  What it is to be human continues to baffle me — not least because we often do have a sense of 'going beyond' the mystical. Yes — I do write as an atheist.  


Lethe: The Art and Critique of Forgetting

By Harold Weinrich, Steven Rendall (translator),

Book cover of Lethe: The Art and Critique of Forgetting

Why this book?

An inspirational exploration of profound contemplations on forgetting, which takes the reader on a guided tour through neglected passages in the writings of illustrious writers from antiquity to present times, including Homer, Ovid, Plato, Augustine, Dante, Rabelais, Montaigne, Cervantes, Locke, Voltaire, Kant, Goethe, Nietzsche, Sartre, Elie Wiesel, Primo Levi, Böll, Borges, and many others.


Plato's Symposium

By Plato, Seth Benardete, Allan Bloom

Book cover of Plato's Symposium

Why this book?

Plato’s scintillating dialogue on the meaning of Love (as purveyed by a group of fifth-century Athenians including Socrates) is one of the key biographical texts about the philosopher. Allan Bloom provides an insightful essay on the central notion of the dialogue attributed to the ‘clever woman’ Diotima: the Ladder of Love.


The Unknown Socrates

By Stephen M. Trzaskoma, William M. Calder, Bernhard Huss, Marc Mastrangelo, R. Scott Smith

Book cover of The Unknown Socrates

Why this book?

This book provides a series of translations of ancient texts relating to the life of Socrates, raising questions about his earlier trajectory among other things. The scattered sources gathered in this volume tell a very different story about the philosopher from that normally obtained by concentrating almost exclusively on his trial and death.


Plato: Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo

By John M. Cooper, G.M.A. Grube, Plato

Book cover of Plato: Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo

Why this book?

These dialogues introduce the ideas that gave birth to western philosophy and its contributions to civilization. Providing the foundations of rational thought and theoretical knowledge in multiple domains, Greek philosophers, especially Socrates and Plato, imbued the search for truth with the urgency of both a personal, and a communal, quest for meaning. Just as the advances of Greek mathematics required concepts that are precisely defined or rigorously governed by axioms, so, the dialogues teach, advances in our knowledge of the world, and of ourselves, require well-regulated concepts like truth, knowledge, justice, virtue, and happiness. In these dialogues, we see the birth of philosophy's two great projects--providing concepts needed to advance theoretical knowledge in every domain and charting the path to wisdom in leading a good and meaningful life.


This Craft of Verse

By Jorge Luis Borges,

Book cover of This Craft of Verse

Why this book?

If you love Borges, and thought you’d read everything he wrote, this is the book for you—a collection of his “lost lectures,” delivered at Harvard in 1967-68 and finally published in 2000. And if you want to hear the actual voice of a creative genius, as if risen from the dead, the recordings are also available. Best known for his intricate short stories and essays, Borges was also—perhaps foremost—a poet. As he puts it in the book, “The central fact of my life has been the existence of words and the possibility of weaving those words into poetry.” Starting from the creation of poems, Borges explores the creation of metaphors, meaning, and life’s irreducible mystery.


Plato and the Nerd: The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology

By Edward Ashford Lee,

Book cover of Plato and the Nerd: The Creative Partnership of Humans and Technology

Why this book?

Lee covers and connects two of my favorite topics, creativity, and technology. From the facts and truths of technology to the role models play in creativity (looking at how early philosophers suggested modeling thought), he argues that computers are not universal machines and that their power comes from their partnership with humans.


Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible

By Russell E. Gmirkin,

Book cover of Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible

Why this book?

Along with his other book, Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus: Hellenistic Histories and the Date of the Pentateuch, Russell Gmirkin puts forward compelling evidence to show that many of the most revered works of Jewish scripture were produced after the conquests of Alexander the Great, hundreds of years later than widely believed. Relationships between the Jewish Torah and the works of Plato have long been acknowledged by scholars, dating back to antiquity. Jews had long claimed that it was Plato who had derived his concepts from their writings, but here Gmirkin shows convincingly that the relationship goes the other way around. This realization has profound implications for our understanding of the origins of Judaism and Christianity.


The Atlantis Syndrome

By Paul Jordan,

Book cover of The Atlantis Syndrome

Why this book?

Whenever I encounter people who interrogate me concerning my archaeological skepticism that the “Lost Continent of Atlantis,” as described by Greek philosopher Plato in about 360 BC, was a real place or even one loosely based on an actual historical event, I invariably direct them to Paul Jordan’s thorough and definitive book. “But didn’t Plato say that Atlantis was real?” they ask. Nope. “But don’t ancient civilizations share so much in common they must have derived their cultures from a single source, Atlantis?” Nope. “But didn’t Plato base his discussion of Atlantis on the catastrophic destruction of the Minoan civilization?” Nope. Why all my “nopes?” Read Jordan’s authoritative book to find out. He is a terrific researcher and a damn good writer.


Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks

By Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Marianne Cowan (translator),

Book cover of Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks

Why this book?

This early study of the young Nietzsche is probably the most personal choice as it returns me to an earlier self who first encountered Nietzsche as an undergraduate in the 1960s. In one sense this was my first introduction to what later became known as `Continental Philosophy’. But more than this, it demonstrated that there were fundamental issues and problems that were simply evaded and occluded by the standard histories of philosophy and European culture. The passion to return to the ancient world as a way of understanding the modern world has remain with me to the present. Nietzsche’s reflections on tragedy and `the tragic age’ struck me as a vital source of radical questions and pointed toward problems that remain with me to the present day: the Indo-European language roots of the first thinkers, the seminal role of Homer and Homeric poetry within the problematics of thought, the rejection of academic `Hellenism’ as a bloodless ideology, the place of tragedy in society and culture, the reflexive problem of how to critically recover these seeds of thought without simply repeating them or indulging in abstract exegesis, philology, and so on. For Nietzsche, the writings of the Presocratics represent the birth of transgressive philosophizing and `untimely’ thought that remains even more urgent in the present global age.


The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy

By Martha C. Nussbaum,

Book cover of The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy

Why this book?

Martha Nussbaum’s book isn’t written as roman à thèse (thesis told as story) but it focuses on the dialogues of Plato and her work helped me understand a possible intention behind his philosophical fiction—when I was writing my own thesis on a more modern philosopher—especially how it tries to avoid the conflicts and suffering that compose Greek tragedy. Spanning millennia of muse-inspired myth about people under pressure, from Antigone in Ancient Crete (who just wanted to bury her traitorous brother) to Sophie in Nazi Germany (who had to choose between her children’s lives) this movingly-written and erudite book has the disturbing but very human insight that the howling Furies don’t let us off the hook just because we had no choice. And neither does our conscience.  


Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction

By Brad Inwood,

Book cover of Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction

Why 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.


On Photography

By Susan Sontag,

Book cover of On Photography

Why this book?

Sontag, like Boorstin, was prescient. She was the first to make the claim, for example, that photography is misleading and seductive because it looks like unaltered reality, but never is. Sontag had in mind the photographer’s choice of what to aim her camera at. But clearly, her insight is even truer today as advertisers – and even ordinary people creating family albums, or posting their bodies for perusal on Instagram – have at their disposal digital technology that can make significant alterations that present bodies as firmer, younger, less blemished than they actually are. She also viewed the mere act of taking a picture as predatory: when we see something shocking or beautiful, our first impulse is to get out of the camera and “capture” it. She died, however, before the smartphone enabled observers to capture injustice and abuse, and I often wonder what she would have to say about that.


The Lost Empire of Atlantis: History's Greatest Mystery Revealed

By Gavin Menzies,

Book cover of The Lost Empire of Atlantis: History's Greatest Mystery Revealed

Why this book?

Atlantis is another fabled island-nation, with a history that goes back much further in time than Utopia. The powerful island-nation is mentioned by Greek philosopher Plato as an antagonist to mighty Athens. There are a handful of theories about whether Atlantis ever existed (some claim Plato made it all up). If it did exist, what was the location before it sank below the waves?

Gavin Menzies takes up one of the real location theories in this fascinating book: that Atlantis was part of the advanced Minoan civilisation that extended from its Mediterranean base on Crete to locations much further afield. Since this all took place three millenniums ago, hard to prove anything, although Gavin Menzies tries his best with unearthed artifacts and DNA evidence to persuade the reader as to the veracity of his findings. Perhaps you should read this tale with a pinch of salt? It is about a fabled island that disappeared into the ocean, after all.


The Complete Poems of Sappho

By Willis Barnstone (translator),

Book cover of The Complete Poems of Sappho

Why this book?

Sappho was an Archaic Greek poet from the island of Lesbos. Best known for her lyric poetry, which was initially written to be sung while accompanied by a lyre. In ancient times, Sappho was widely regarded as one of the greatest poets and referred to as the "Tenth Muse" and "The Poetess". She also was among the canon of Nine Lyric Poets most highly esteemed by scholars of Hellenistic Alexandria.

Though most of her work has been lost, there are still new discoveries being found, giving us an incredible taste of her feelings, tenderness, simplicity, and her interpretation of life as we resonate with it presently, in this day and age. Way ahead of their time, her poems through their versatility give us a sense of her transcendental and emotional views on love in an unassuming yet impactful way. An artist whose themes extend beyond romance and myth, delving into the subtlety of feminine divinity with an almost melancholic whisper.


The Mask of Apollo

By Mary Renault,

Book cover of The Mask of Apollo

Why this book?

The final sentence of The Mask of Apollo has haunted me for decades since I first read the book in my teens. When I read it again, many years later, I discovered that the story is as moving as I remembered. Renault weaves a fascinating re-creation of classical Greek theatre with Plato’s attempt to tutor a true philosopher king in the kingdom of Syracuse. But it’s the final chapter, after Plato’s death, that raises the book to the level of tragedy. For then we meet the young Alexander, already almost god-like in his charisma, a fire seeking fuel for its burning. Alexander burns through the world seeking it, but what he is looking for in the world has already left it: a broken Plato has already died.


The Complete Works of Plato, Volume I

By Plato,

Book cover of The Complete Works of Plato, Volume I

Why this book?

After 2,400 years, Plato finally won the battle against Socrates, Aristotle, Avicenna, Rousseau, Locke, Freud, French and Neo-Liberalism, and most parents of two-year-olds. According to 21st-century neuroscientists, as Plato provided in the Allegory of the Cave, the prescient idea is that we are not born as blank slates, but rather have the basic knowledge of beauty, good and evil baked into our prenatal brain (genetically preformed circuits!)


The Athenian Murders

By Jose Carlos Somoza,

Book cover of The Athenian Murders

Why this book?

As an author of mystery-thrillers, including the Sherlock Holmes Pastiche, “Elementary, My Dear Spock” as well as a longtime fan of Agatha Christie, I was drawn to the appeal of an ancient Greek “detective”, Heracles Pontor investigating murders in Plato’s Athens. And, Somoza does not disappoint, inviting us to share Pontor’s journey down a rabbit hole that grows ever more intriguing and dangerous page by page. Somoza welcomes us with a beautifully translated murder mystery that soon envelopes us in a fascinating exploration of Plato, reality, and, as reflected in the original Spanish title, the Cave of Ideas. 


The Green Child

By Herbert Read,

Book cover of The Green Child

Why this book?

First published in 1935, The Green Child is among the strangest books you’ll ever read. It enchanted me, forcing me to believe that Olivero, a South American dictator, could fake his own assassination, return to his roots in England, and save a speechless translucent creature, the Green Child, from her sadistic husband. I revelled in the exquisite writing – Sir Herbert Read was a renowned stylist who penned the classic English Prose Style -- and the improbable’s being made real. At one time Norton Professor of Fine Arts at Harvard, Read called his novel a philosophical myth to which ‘all types of Fantasy should conform’. It was his only long fiction. One reviewer called it an ‘organic fusion of thought and imagination into a crystalline beauty’.


Living Your Life Out Loud: How to Unlock Your Creativity

By Salli Rasberry, Padi Selwyn,

Book cover of Living Your Life Out Loud: How to Unlock Your Creativity

Why this book?

Here is a book that I found to be highly engaging. The Greek philospher Plato was quoted as saying that "you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." If so, he has offered us a valid rationale for taking a stroll with someone whom we've just encountered, versus meeting at, say, a restaurant. The authors discuss one study where up to 90% of 5-year-olds tested as being highly creative. Yet by age 7, this figure declines 10%, and then declines to 2% after age 8. Hence, creativity seemingly declines as structured education begins.

Creativity involves the pressure to 'keep up' along with a bombardment of information. The accelerating pace of environmental damage is symptomatic of damage to the human spirit. One centurion said, “I lived my life" so that I would exceed age 100. For nearly all of his life, he proved to be an avid walker. A doctor, some 50 years younger, was flabbergasted and amazed to learn that this senior citizen walked four to five miles each day, even when rainy. The doctor asked, "What do you do then?" He was told, "I wear on a raincoat." Indeed.

The authors illuminate 12 characteristics of very creative people such as flexibility, receptivity to new ideas, emotional sensitivity, a preference for disorder (at least in the short term), tolerance of ambiguity, fluency of ideas, curiosity, originality, intuitiveness, perseverance, openness to risk, and even playfulness. Napping was also in the mix.

In summary, risk is basic to "living your life out loud." Ensure, however, that the risks you pursue are for yourself, deep-down seem right for you, and are entirely worth taking. Then, prepare a list of steps needed to decrease the risk as much as practical. Also, converse with other people who have been successful risk-takers.


Sacred Geography of the Ancient Greeks: Astrological Symbolism in Art, Architecture, and Landscape

By Jean Richer, Christine Rhone (translator),

Book cover of Sacred Geography of the Ancient Greeks: Astrological Symbolism in Art, Architecture, and Landscape

Why this book?

Professor Richer, author of a half-dozen books, commonly commented on intellectual matters for French radio. My recommendation of his only book translated into English requires an explanation because the book contains multiple errors and is seriously flawed. In places, Richer neglects the effects of the Precession and elsewhere uses maps on which unrelated points are forced to fall along straight lines. But I once spoke with Richer and have read his other books knowing that the man had a secret. Indeed, more than one. Richer had access to papyrus texts indicating that the Ancient Greeks had set out temples, cities, and colonies across the Mediterranean in ways that reflected the zodiac. Another reason for his secrecy, which I discuss in my own book, is that the papyruses, discovered during Bonaparte's Egyptian Campaign (1798-1801), also included materials that ultimately gave rise to The Da Vinci Code.


The Apology and the Last Days: A Novel

By Borislav Pekic, Bojan Misic (translator),

Book cover of The Apology and the Last Days: A Novel

Why this book?

Andrija’s a lifeguard on the river in a small town in the Balkans. During the war, he jumps in to save a man from drowning. Turns out he wasn’t a local, or even a partisan, but a high-ranking Nazi officer. Labelled a collaborator, Andrija flees at the end of the war and ends up an odd-job man in West Germany. When his employer falls into his own swimming pool, Andrija is convicted of his murder—for the man who died was the officer he’d once saved. In prison, Andrija discovers a book by Plato and he tries to write his own defense as if he were a philosopher too. The contortions he gets into as he tries to undo the tangle he’s been put in by history get funnier and funnier every time you reread this forgotten classic.


Utopia

By Thomas More,

Book cover of Utopia

Why this book?

This is the OG of utopias—written in 1516 about people living on a distant island. Later writers made up utopias set in the future, but More’s island is still fun to read about. A place where there is no private property, no one desires wealth, all citizens are equal, and all religions are tolerated—though there is no privacy (or premarital sex) either. Nobody knows whether More meant it as satire or longing, or even if we should translate u-topia as “no-place” or “good-place.”


The Republic of Plato

By Allan Bloom (translator),

Book cover of The Republic of Plato

Why this book?

This bedrock text is the fons et origo of all Western thinking on politics and is still as challenging and profound as on the day it was composed. It is also a deep critique of civilization, an epistemological guide, and a primer on how to live a good life. A lot in one book! It used to be the one work that every college graduate had to read. Alas, no more.


Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals

By John Gray,

Book cover of Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals

Why this book?

A brilliant attack on a collection of human vanities, most importantly the idea of progress. The political left and right are united in the idea that history has a direction. Human societies gradually progress towards a perfect endpoint – an end of history – where no further improvement can be made. Left and right disagree on what this endpoint will look like, but they agree that there is one, and that one can, therefore, be on the right or wrong side of history. Not so fast, argues John Gray. History is a long time, and the idea of progress is an article of faith that does not survive careful examination. Brilliant engagement with the work of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer among others.


Poetics

By Aristotle, Joe Sachs (translator),

Book cover of Poetics

Why this book?

Aristotle is but one of the greatest thinkers to ever have lived within our realms of existence—having defined basically everything natural that we run into on a daily basis thousands of years prior to our lives, he definitely made sure to such in regard to poetry. Among scientific and political discoveries, as well as many others, Aristotle also chose to give his perspective and input regarding literature, specifically poetry and prose, in this text, which proves to be a pivotal key to any reader and/or writer.


The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers

By Will Durant,

Book cover of The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers

Why this book?

This is the book that really got me into philosophy. My girlfriend gave it to me when I was a teenager. I opened it up began reading, and I never really stopped. Durant’s book gives what I now understand to be a rather conventional account of the origins and history of Western philosophy, but it does it very well. It enthusiastically and eloquently leads readers into the central conceptual concerns, principles, and problems of the central figures of the Western traditions. It’s intellectually substantial, and it doesn’t require advanced degrees. A joy to read, and in a word, for me, life-changing.


Explaining Explanation

By David-Hillel Ruben,

Book cover of Explaining Explanation

Why this book?

In this book, David-Hillel Ruben introduces the ways in which various philosophers have tried to explain the concept of explanation, before ending with his own account of explanation. Explaining is one of the most important actions a human being can engage in. Diagnoses, for example, are explanations of why you have the symptoms you have, or perhaps they are explanations of why that bridge collapsed or why those people bombed that mosque. In trying to explain something we make our first attempts at trying to understand the phenomenon under investigation. But what actually is an explanation? What do we do when we try to explain something. This is not an easy read, but it is an excellent book. 


Tetralogue: I'm Right, You're Wrong

By Timothy Williamson,

Book cover of Tetralogue: I'm Right, You're Wrong

Why this book?

One area in which argument is increasingly important is the area of ethics, or morality. In our increasingly polarized world, a world in which people often find themselves in ‘bubbles’ where their ideas are confirmed by everything they read, arguing becomes increasingly difficult because people want to remain in their comfort zones. This book looks at a discussion between four people on a train and examines the way their discussion questions their key assumptions.   


Theaetetus

By Plato,

Book cover of Theaetetus

Why this book?

When people think of the great rock bands, they think of the hits, the songs that raced to #1. True fans know that there are some great, even better songs, on the flip sides of the albums, the so-called deep cuts. The same is true with writers like Plato. Few are familiar with his Theaetetus, but it is my favorite. It explores how we know what we know and proves the error of a slogan that is as popular today as it was in his time, “Man is the measure of all things.” Plato shows how logically silly that is, and in a fairly humorous way…if you like philosophical wit, that is.


Franny and Zooey

By J.D. Salinger,

Book cover of Franny and Zooey

Why this book?

Catcher in the Rye gets all the love, but, for me, Franny and Zooey is J.D. Salinger’s masterpiece. I was immediately hooked by his rich characters, his flowing language, his extraordinary ear for dialogue, his effortless ability as a storyteller. His compassion most of all. These two interweaving tales of the Glass family settled into my soul and left an imprint that has never gone away. In the finale, Buddy Glass’s classic tale of Salinger’s “Fat Lady” just might alter your view of the universe, and of yourself, as surely as it did Franny’s.  


The Beginning of Philosophy

By Hans-Georg Gadamer, Rod Coltman (translator),

Book cover of The Beginning of Philosophy

Why this book?

As a student of both sociology and philosophy I was profoundly influenced by the phenomenological tradition of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Alfred Schutz, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and others. One of these inspiring 'others’ was Hans-Georg Gadamer who promoted a radically interpretive or `hermeneutic’ approach to philosophical issues. While his major work is Truth and Method this collection of essays concerns itself with origins and 'beginnings,’ inviting readers to enter a dialogue with some of the key figures and problematics of Greek and thereby of Western European thought and culture. Plato was Gadamer’s great love and Gadamer rejects Heidegger’s reading of the Platonic Dialogues as the first phase of Western metaphysics and commends a reading of Platonic and Aristotelian thought as a spirited rejection of dogmatic thinking and a path toward a dialogical vision of thought and inquiry.


A History of Western Philosophy

By Bertrand Russell,

Book cover of A History of Western Philosophy

Why this book?

Whatever those deep questions are that you have, somebody’s already thought about them, and this masterwork of a book will show you that you’re not alone. In fact, you’re thinking and feeling the same way women and men did a couple thousand years ago – and some very wise individuals have thought through what you’re thinking through. This book will change your life and your mind. You have to be patient, but it’s worth it. Read three pages (no more) a day, every day. Plan on sticking with this for more than a year, then do so. Use a highlighter for a bookmark. It changed me. It’ll change you, too.


Memory, History, Forgetting

By Paul Ricoeur,

Book cover of Memory, History, Forgetting

Why this book?

A landmark philosophical tome, which argues for the ‘imbrication of forgetting in memory’. The disentangling of the complex relationships between history, memory and forgetting raises ethical questions about abuses of memory and interrogates the connection between forgetting and forgiving.


Why Socrates Died

By Robin Waterfield,

Book cover of Why Socrates Died

Why this book?

Socrates’ trial and death together are a famous moment in classical history. This is a vigorous and authoritative scholarly investigation into the historical circumstances that led to Socrates being charged with impiety and corrupting the youth.


What Is History?

By Edward Hallet Carr,

Book cover of What Is History?

Why this book?

This book is a classic, for more than half a century, and remains the starting point in the current discussion of the historian’s craft. Edward H. Carr underscores the importance of dialogue in the study of history. History is a process of interaction between the historian and their facts, or between the past and the present. In this dialogue, the historian is not an objective reporter or analyst, but an individual whose world view and scientific approach are shaped by society.


The Secret

By Rhonda Byrne,

Book cover of The Secret

Why this book?

In 2009, I dislocated and broke my ankle in the Honolulu airport. Bedridden after surgery, I remembered a friend had given me a copy of The Secret. I read it in one sitting and had an epiphany! I have been manifesting my entire life but didn’t know that it’s name was Law of Attraction. This book catapulted me on my spiritual journey and forever changed my life. I realized I am a deliberate creator and can manifest any desire I want. 


Chaos Imagined: Literature, Art, Science

By Martin Meisel,

Book cover of Chaos Imagined: Literature, Art, Science

Why this book?

A comprehensive, elegantly written survey of the territory from a genuine polymath, Chaos Imagined considers the philosophical issues raised by the turn to disorder and chance in everything from cutting-edge artistic movements to mathematical chaos theory. Meisel moves with agile ease from historical narrative to considerations of some quite knotty theoretical problems in a style that is genuinely readable and elegant, rather than academically abstruse. He is as assured on avant-garde art movements as he is on the more elusive aspects of western philosophy.


Nine Princes in Amber: The Chronicles of Amber

By Roger Zelazny,

Book cover of Nine Princes in Amber: The Chronicles of Amber

Why this book?

Amber is the first shadow of a pattern drawn in the blood of its creator. A magical place of colourful and princely characters, full of plots, and intrigue. Endless shadow worlds of Amber, ripple out through infinity, stamping the multifaceted order of existence into all-encompassing oblivion. The courts of chaos (primal  embryonic birth-place of the creator) span the void. Unstable, violent, full of chimeric royalty, intent on destroying the pattern, and re-establishing the dominance of existence. Earth shadow culture and technology, are imortant to the princely magician Corwin (pretender to Amber's throne) in his war aginst chaos...

Despite its complexity, Zelazny manages to lace his dreamscape with copious quantities of wise-cracking humour, and somehow, creates a mesmerising world that expands the senses yet, is easy bedtime reading.


The Philosopher's Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods

By Peter S. Fosl, Julian Baggini,

Book cover of The Philosopher's Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods

Why this book?

As with any other academic discipline, philosophy has its own language. This is not jargon (or it shouldn’t be!). It is a technical terminology. To look at something very closely, as any academic discipline does, is to record distinctions that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Immediately two names are needed where only one was needed before. This book will talk you through the most important of these distinctions. The book also looks at the methodology of philosophy, the most important of which, of course, is logic. 


The Story of Philosophy

By Bryan Magee,

Book cover of The Story of Philosophy

Why this book?

Magee’s splendid introductory book is my go-to recommendation for those who wish to enter the world of philosophical ideas. Yes, it’s old-school in the sense that it can be annoyingly androcentric and Eurocentric. A supplement like Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting’s remarkable Philosopher Queens or Julian Baggini’s volume below should be read in tandem. Having said that, however, no one else pulls together the history of western philosophy with terse, informative, and fascinating accounts of important figures and schools as well as Magee. Plus, Magee’s text luxuriates amidst the lush, generous, and illuminating visuals that make Dorling Kindersley volumes so voluptuous. 


Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation

By Roosevelt Montás,

Book cover of Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation

Why this book?

This book assesses the value of liberal education, and the importance of (re) reading the so-called ‘classics,’ rather than resorting to short snippets of articles, YouTube videos, or chapters which make short and pointed arguments about specific issues. The great classics have changed Roosevelt Montás’s life in ways that are to me familiar, since I’ve enjoyed watching the fruits of liberal education as they transformed his life of my own students over the years.


Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View

By Richard Tarnas,

Book cover of Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View

Why this book?

In Cosmos and Psyche, a massive tome based on thirty years of astrological research, psychologist and cultural historian Richard Tarnas has written a sensational synthesis of astrological, psycho-spiritual, and humanistic studies. Sun signs and other horoscopic explanations are not included. This masterpiece begins and ends with the psyche, the human condition, and, most especially, the modern mind, and how it is screaming to be reunited with the soul of the universe. 

Tarnas writes that modern science has de-anthropomorphized cognition and thus the modern world is disenchanted and ultimately disconnected. In the disenchanted cosmos, nothing is sacred, but if one is involved in the “participation mystique” the universe is truly enchanted, hence everything is sacred. Highly recommended for advanced students and practitioners.


Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick

By Philip K. Dick,

Book cover of Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick

Why this book?

This was recommended to me as having been the lyrical inspiration to songs by several musical artists I was listening to in my teens. To this day I am still baffled and impressed as to where on Earth Dick ever found the ideas for some of these stories. Almost experimental in their nature, particularly at the time of writing, and breaking ground as he went along, P. K. Dick’s skill of crafting chilling perspective scenarios again and again have, become popular film plots. In this book and his other short story collections, you can feast on many more deeply original plots, any number of which could be made into Hollywood films. Many years ahead of his time and almost predicting the disposable instantaneous world we would live in, Dick’s short stories almost arrived from the future themselves. I think he had the edge on dialogue too. I don’t own a TV and like Wells, Dick’s stories work particularly well when adapted for radio. Stories such as "Meddler" and "Roog" can only ever come from a talent such as Dick.