The best Ralph Waldo Emerson books 📚

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

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Book cover of Walden: or, Life in the Woods

Walden: or, Life in the Woods

By Henry David Thoreau

Why this book?

In 1845 Thoreau built a small cabin on land owned by his friend, the philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, and conducted a two-year experiment in simple living. Walden is his account of this experiment. It's a hard book to summarize since, although quite short, it combines memoir, philosophical reflection, natural history, and social commentary. But it is beautifully written, and it has been an inspiration to countless readers who, like Thoreau, believe that we can deepen our experience of life by drawing closer to what is natural and elemental, reducing our dependency on things and, at least for a…

From the list:

The best books to inspire simple living

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Book cover of The Next World Interviewed

The Next World Interviewed

By S. G. Horn

Why this book?

This obscure 1896 book is a collection of interviews with dead luminaries. At least, that’s what the psychic author alleges. Inside you’ll find conversations with Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Charles Darwin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe, and others. Discover their wisdom from beyond the veil, and in the case of Ben Franklin, you can enjoy a new set of his famous aphorisms, including this one: “Spiritual knowledge, like gems hidden in the bowels of the earth, is only to be reached by patient upturning of the soil.”

From the list:

The best books about ghosts written by people who might now be ghosts

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Book cover of Proust and America: The Influence of American Art, Culture, and Literature on À la Recherché Du Temps Perdu

Proust and America: The Influence of American Art, Culture, and Literature on À la Recherché Du Temps Perdu

By Michael Murphy

Why this book?

Proust’s passion for the English writers George Eliot and John Ruskin is well known, as is his scrutiny of the Anglophilia of Parisians at the turn of the twentieth century, but his connection with American thinkers and painters has been less carefully scrutinized. ”It is strange," Proust wrote in 1909, "that, in the most widely different departments . . . there should be no other literature which exercises over me so powerful an influence as the English and American.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allen Poe, and James McNeill Whistler are examined as Proust's key American influences. Critic Michael Murphy also…
From the list:

The best books to expand your grasp of Marcel Proust

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Book cover of The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches

The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches

By W.E. Burghardt Du Bois

Why this book?

It is rare for a book published more than a century ago to seem as if it had just come off the presses, but W. E. B. Du Bois succeeded in producing a work so profound that it might well be equally relevant one hundred years from now. Du Bois was a luminescent scholar, a passionate advocate, and a graceful and accessible writer. His essays range from observations on the arduous lives of Black people living under Jim Crow to a celebration of their indomitable spirit in the face of institutional racism to a ferocious condemnation of the “accommodationist” philosophy…

From the list:

The best books for white people to learn (just a little) about Black people

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Book cover of A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir

A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir

By Donald Worster

Why this book?

This is a complete biography of Muir that according to the Journal of American History “Supplants all earlier Muir biographies and will undoubtedly stand the test of time for its sophisticated interpretations and impressive narrative power.” The journal added that it’s also “a pleasure to read.” Worster knows his stuff. He’s Hall Distinguished Professor of American History at the University of Kansas.

From the list:

The best books about John Muir: Father of the American environmental movement

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