When it comes to picking up books on Stoicism, the choices are almost overwhelming. In the list below, we’ve compiled the best books on stoic philosophy based on our personal ratings, as well as our favorite translations of each.
If you’re new the the subject, we recommend starting at the top of the list, and working your way down.
Meditations: A New Translation
Not only was Marcus Aurelius one of the greatest Roman emperors, he was also one of the greatest philosopher kings.
This book is his personal diary (never meant to be published) and gives us a great insight into how the most powerful man on the planet wanted to live his best life.
Letters from a Stoic
Letters is a great book comprised of a variety of short(ish) letters from Seneca to one of his students. It covers a great deal of topics, and would be my second suggestion after finishing Meditations.
Stoic Wisdom presents a compelling, modern Stoicism that teaches grit, resilience, and the importance of close relationships in addressing life’s biggest and smallest challenges.
The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph
Ryan Holiday shows us how some of the most successful people in history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—have applied stoicism to overcome difficult or even impossible situations. Their embrace of these principles ultimately mattered more than their natural intelligence, talents, or luck.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited—”not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.”
Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.
Ego is the Enemy
Ego Is the Enemy draws on a vast array of stories and examples, from literature to philosophy to history. We meet fascinating figures such as George Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Katharine Graham, Bill Belichick, and Eleanor Roosevelt, who all reached the highest levels of power and success by conquering their own egos. Their strategies and tactics can be ours as well.
How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life
A philosopher asks how ancient Stoicism can help us flourish today Whenever we worry about what to eat, how to love, or simply how to be happy, we are worrying about how to lead a good life. No goal is more elusive. In How to Be a Stoic, philosopher Massimo Pigliucci offers Stoicism, the ancient philosophy that inspired the great emperor Marcus Aurelius, as the best way to attain it.
A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy
One of the great fears many of us face is that despite all our effort and striving, we will discover at the end that we have wasted our life. In A Guide to the Good Life, William B. Irvine plumbs the wisdom of Stoic philosophy, one of the most popular and successful schools of thought in ancient Rome, and shows how its insight and advice are still remarkably applicable to modern lives.
The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living
The Daily Stoic offers 366 days of Stoic insights and exercises, featuring all-new translations from the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the playwright Seneca, or slave-turned-philosopher Epictetus, as well as lesser-known luminaries like Zeno, Cleanthes, and Musonius Rufus. Every day of the year you’ll find one of their pithy, powerful quotations, as well as historical anecdotes, provocative commentary, and a helpful glossary of Greek terms.
Stoicism: The Complete Guide for Beginners to Apply Stoicism to Everyday Life
This book features an extensive amount of information on stoicism, including the origins of stoicism, virtue in stoicism, stoicism and psychology, stoicism and the emotions, spiritual learning in stoicism, friendships and love in stoicism, dealing with negative emotions in stoicism, spiritual exercises to become a better stoic, and stoicism’s relationships to Christianity.
The Cambridge Companion to the Stoics
his volume offers an odyssey through the ideas of the Stoics in three ways: through the historical trajectory of the school itself and its influence; the recovery of the history of Stoic thought; and finally, the ongoing confrontation with Stoicism.
The study demonstrates how Stoicism refines philosophical traditions, challenges the imagination, and ultimately defines the kind of life one chooses to lead. Advanced students and specialists will discover a conspectus of developments in this interpretation of the Stoics and new readers will be drawn to its accessibility.
A Better Human: The Stoic Heart, Mind, and Soul
Of all the religions, creeds, and self-help manifestos the world has produced, most concentrate on how to achieve salvation in aspects other than the here-and-now, with our lives merely transitory testing grounds for a higher realm or our actions guided so that we maximize life in a state of ‘enlightened hedonism,’ consuming rapaciously but really achieving not much at all. But there’s one philosophy that provides a concrete foundation for living well, for living ‘a good life’ in this world.
Wisdom from Ancient Greek Philosophy
This collection will teach you everything you need to know about Greek Philosophy from immortal thinkers and be able to apply it to your daily life. You’re paying for premium quality content.
This a great learning tool on Ancient Greek Philosophy, either to enhance your knowledge or as a study guide.
Lives of the Stoics
In Lives of the Stoics, Holiday and Hanselman present the fascinating lives of the men and women who strove to live by the timeless Stoic virtues of Courage. Justice. Temperance. Wisdom. Organized in digestible, mini-biographies of all the well-known – and not so well-known – Stoics, this book vividly brings home what Stoicism was like for the people who loved it and lived it, dusting off powerful lessons to be learned from their struggles and successes.
The Manual: A Philosopher’s Guide to Life
The Manual is a collection of Epictetus’ essential teachings and pithy sayings, compiled by his closet student
It is the most accessible and actionable guide to Stoic philosophy, as relevant today as it was in the Roman Empire.
A Handbook for New Stoics: How to Thrive in a World Out of Your Control
A pragmatic philosophy more popular than ever—these are 52 ancient lessons to help you overcome adversity and find tranquility in the modern world.
Stoicism: A Guide in Modern Society to Life Long Habits of Self Discipline, Self-Control, and Mental Toughness
This book provides a comprehensive discussion of all that relates to stoicism. It sets the foundation that stoicism was developed based on ethics, physics, and logic.
The book also lists a number of philosophers that have been instrumental in the shaping and making of this philosophy including Seneca the Younger, Cato the Younger, Marcus Aurelius, and Epictetus.
The Little Book of Stoicism: Timeless Wisdom to Gain Resilience, Confidence, and Calmness
This compelling, highly actionable guide shows you how to deal more effectively with whatever life throws at you and live up to your best self.
A mix of timeless wisdom and empowering advice, The Little Book of Stoicism will point the way to anyone seeking a calm and wise life in a chaotic world.
Stoic Philosophy of Seneca: Essays and Letters
In The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca, representative selections from Seneca’s writings offer the reader an excellent introduction to the range of his work.
The selections are drawn from the essays, or dialogues, and the “Consolations;” from the treatises, of which “On Clemency,” addressed to the young Nero, is included here; and from the Letters to Lucilius, which have to do not only with philosophical subjects but also with Seneca’s personal experiences, such as journeys and visits.