The best psychedelic books 📚

Browse the best books on psychedelics as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies

High Weirdness: Drugs, Esoterica, and Visionary Experience in the Seventies

By Erik Davis

Why this book?

Davis’ style is analytical swank and this excavation of the 1970s is his odyssean opus. High Weirdness is a fascinating trip of a book in which the psychedelic epiphanies and freak experiences of Terence McKenna, Robert Anton Wilson, and Philip K. Dick are each explored and compared for their extraordinary contributions to “consciousness culture,” and for their entrees on the radical form of realism Davis calls “weird naturalism.” The book serves as a remarkable introduction to each of the trio upon whom Davis has made extensive study, from the epicenter of the weird that was the 1971 Experiment at La…

From the list:

The best books on psychedelics and culture

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Book cover of Getting Higher: The Manual of Psychedelic Ceremony

Getting Higher: The Manual of Psychedelic Ceremony

By Julian Vayne, Pete Loveday

Why this book?

If all my choices so far have been, in some way, about the psychedelic experience, this is a practical hands-on guide about how to occasion one yourself. Psychedelics can be consumed safely, but there are attendant risks, not least from their continued illegality in many parts of the world. Vayne, who has decades of experience as a psychedelic user and ritual technician, talks the reader through recommended ways to prepare for a psychedelic experience, how to navigate what subsequently unfolds, and how to integrate it afterwards. This is the indispensable guide for the psy-curious, and even better it comes with…

From the list:

The best books on the riddle of psychedelics

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Book cover of PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story

PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story

By Alexander Shulgin, Ann Shulgin

Why this book?

This indispensable pair of companion volumes created by the Shulgins and known by their acronyms represent a literary and alchemical “gold mine.” Committed to the synthesis and assaying of hundreds of new compounds, chemist Alexander Shulgin dedicated his life to the public dissemination of potential psychotherapeutic aids, most notably MDMA (which he synthesized). A collaboration with his wife, Ann, these books represent Shulgins’ life achievement. They include detailed and precise reports by the Shulgins and the psychonautical group of friend-volunteers who bioassayed newly discovered molecules. PiHKAL ("Phenethylamines I Have Known and Loved”) focuses on psychoactive phenethylamine chemical derivatives, and TiHKAL…

From the list:

The best books on psychedelics and culture

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Book cover of Leave Society

Leave Society

By Tao Lin

Why this book?

In 2021’s most widely-discussed literary novel, Lin, the former enfant terrible of the early 2000s alt-lit scene, rejects that movement’s terse and affectless style in favor of a more startlingly inventive prose alive to everyday experience’s strangeness. This autobiographical novel recounts its narrator’s attempt to wean himself from the toxic habits and substances of our “dominator” society and, through natural foods and psychedelic drugs, to return to a matriarchal cooperative tradition he describes at length. Whatever we think of Lin’s potentially sentimental historiography, he embeds it in a gentle family comedy that effloresces into a tender romance. I appreciate Lin’s…

From the list:

The best novels of ideas of the last 50 years

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Book cover of Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research Since the Decade of the Brain

Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research Since the Decade of the Brain

By Nicolas Langlitz

Why this book?

Anthropological fieldwork is not restricted to isolated indigenous people in remote areas. Anthropologists study scientists in university research labs. Langlitz did a remarkable feat: He immersed himself in the research activities of two laboratories studying psychedelic effects on humans and animals. Through this participation in everyday work, he delineated contextual sociological and psychological factors of what made it possible for researchers to be allowed to give healthy human subjects and patients with psychiatric problems mind-altering drugs in the lab and what motivates researchers to go into these frontier areas of research. LSD, psilocybin, and ayahuasca are studied again scientifically. What…

From the list:

The best books on the frontier areas of time in psychology and physics

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Book cover of Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine: Creativity, Ecstasy, and Healing

Psychedelic Mysteries of the Feminine: Creativity, Ecstasy, and Healing

By Maria Papaspyrou, Chiara Baldini, David Luke

Why this book?

Psychedelic literature is unquestionably dominated by the white, male author. If, like me, you yearn to hear other voices and other perspectives, then this collection of essays couldn’t be more timely. The twenty-three chapters, from academic and non-academic authors, cover a range of perspectives, and while you may not agree with all of them, they’re refreshing nonetheless. It’s hard to single out any particular essay, but it’s always a pleasure to read Kathleen Harrison. Harrison, who was once married to Terence McKenna, spent years living with the Mazatec people, and treats us to her animistic vision of the world as…

From the list:

The best books on the riddle of psychedelics

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