In the world of the post-pandemic era, there is a tremendous amount of mental stress. Have you ever heard anyone say “go read the best philosophy book”? You must have rolled out with laughter when you heard it. But really, are there any real reasons to read philosophical books?

Why one should read philosophical books?

Let’s take it this way, if we haven’t read any philosophy books yet in our lives, we are bound to have a no-change attitude in our lives. We humans believe that we are what we do, where we stay, whom we belong to, and everything and anything associated with us. But ever did we question ourselves what if these associations change one fine day or no longer exist? Philosophy stands strong on the shoulders of questioning.

The art of questioning, the art of diving deep to find the real meaning of existence. As the great philosophers state, it is ” the purpose of life”. Philosophy makes the human mind evolve at each step. It makes us accept the valleys and hills, turmoil and happiness, and failure and success in our lives with more sanity. In other words, nothing gets to your head. Philosophy takes you into the minds of great thinkers and helps you get a better perspective on life.

How to read philosophical books?

But we all know something this good cannot come that easily. So while you read the best philosophy books enlisted here, make sure that you annotate, ponder, and come back every time you feel the need to. This is not something to binge-read. This is the thing you read over and over the years, several times. Each time it expands your vision, making you a better human altogether.

Following are the best philosophy books ranging from ancient philosophy to modern philosophy

1. Man’s search for meaning – Victor E. Frankl

Man’s search for meaning - Victor E. Frankl

About the book

This book is an autobiography of the author. Victor Frankl was a jew psychologist. He was arrested by the Nazis for the mere reason that he was jew. In this book, he has depicted Nazi camps in detail. During this holocaust, he was transported from Vienna his home town to Czechoslovakia and then to Poland. By this time he was the only surviving member of his family.

He was developing a theory known as logotherapy that he described in the second part of the book. This theory was with him in the form of a manuscript in his overcoat. He applied this theory in the concentration camps. It was difficult to survive in such concentration camps but Victor was determined to find purpose and meaning in his life. As stated in the book purpose of life is the only key to happiness. In the third part of the book, the author puts an emphasis on the application of logotherapy in one’s life.

How this book helps

The book as a whole teaches that sufferings are an inevitable part of human life and how you react to it is important. It is a lesson for those who cannot tolerate suffering. The greater purpose of this book is to make people understand that finding meaning or purpose in your life can itself give you the strength to live. The meaning can be found in one’s life irrespective of the circumstances. Victor was stripped away with nothing by the Nazis and all he said was that he had nothing to lose except his naked life now. It teaches that no matter what if you find the ‘why’ of your life you will make it

Best philosophy books

Availability: Paperback is available on Amazon for 195 INR

2. Beyond good and evil – Friedrich Nietzsche

 Beyond good and evil – Friedrich Nietzsche

About the book

German author of modern philosophy here talks about the art of questioning one’s beliefs and faith. This book was written in 1866 in german language and then translated to English in 1906. The greek philosophers and thinkers were his influence. He admired their writings. But at the same time, he questioned a lot of modern thinkers. He believes that everyone can question anything and everything that he/she has been taught over the years by societies, parents and religion.

He has a firm belief that everyone has the will to power, so why don’t we dig in and find the truth? As the title of the book suggests, he says that there is no separation between morality and immolarity, between black and white. He argues that there are shades of grey. Society has imposed certain norms on people without even questioning the logic and necessity behind them. If we have to have faith in an illogical belief system, we need to sacrifice the truth. He finds only the man who has the will to question the systems as intelligent. He has discussed how he abandoned people who were unreflective of his beliefs.

How this book helps

This book has faced a lot of criticism from conservatives all around the world. People have believed it to be an atheist perspective. But when you think about how such social norms as racism, casteism, gender inequality, and many more societal things are passed from one generation to another it has been destroying society as a whole. So if you are somebody pressured by society to believe in certain norms and have faith in it until they turn out to be so-called ‘good’. Stop and take a deep breath. Pick up this book that will teach you to question. Then finally dive in and dig into the truth, and if you find any societal norms to be of some significance, your belief will become stronger than ever. If not, you will live a free life.

Best philosophy books

Availability: The paperback is available on Amazon for 395 INR

3. A history of western philosophy book- Bertrand Russell

Best philosophy books

About the book

The book is divided into three sections, namely, ancient philosophy, Catholic philosophy, and western philosophy. This book basically covered every great philosopher and thinker. The author has given an insight into each philosopher’s work right from Plato to Aristotle. In the first section which is ancient philosophy, he talks about Socrates, Pythagoras, Plato other such greek thinkers and philosophers. However, in the next part which is about catholic philosophy, he talks about all the religious philosophies including Jewish and Islamic philosophies. In the last part, he talks about various modern philosophers and then eventually gives his own philosophy.

How this book helps

This book is a compilation of all the great philosophical works. As such, philosophy is not easier to digest, and in this book you find philosophies from ancient times to modern times, which raises its difficulty level. One can only read it if one has been obsessed with philosophy for a long time and has been reading the individual works of the philosophers. But if you think that book will confuse you, to your contradiction, this book will guide you into how each philosophy has something in common and valuable.

After all, philosophy is all about questioning then why not question the philosophy of each philosophy and gain a greater and better perspective of existence? What could be better than having all the great minds read at once and together? This will make you understand the changes in philosophy as you travel in time with the book from ancient times to modern times.

Best philosophy books

Availability: The hardcover is available at 10000 INR approx.

4. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom – Don Miguel Ruiz with Janet Mills.

Best philosophy books

About the book

In this book, the author talks about the four promises readers should make to themselves which are as follows:

  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Don’t take anything personally
  • Do not make assumptions
  • Do your best

Here the author brings the ancient Toltec wisdom that can act as a guide to the code of conduct and true happiness. The author has started with domestication, which is how each individual from childhood has been imposed certain societal beliefs that make one unhappy. He asks you to identify them and remove them. The author talks about not taking anything personally and forgiving people. This is good for oneself. The author asks the reader never to make an assumption about anything; rather, the author asks them to be brave and ask questions. Then finally, the author puts an emphasis on the fact that one should do their best and also entails the discussion of how the best of anyone changes with the situation.

How this book helps

This book truly abides by the title. Nevertheless, it serves as a guide to living one’s life free from the trap of societal belief while being compassionate towards society. The part I most loved and the most important lesson from the book is to never take anything personally. As the opinions of others are nothing but their own reflections, So if you are a victim of societal norms and that’s taking a toll on your mental health. This book actually guides you in understanding how the opinions of others have nothing to do with you; rather, it is a reflection of their domestication. In the era of social media, where trolling and roasting has become a trend. These are the times when mental illness is rising day by day. Such best philosophy books are a must-read.

Availability: Paperback is available at 149 INR on Flipkart

5. Zen: the art of simple living – Shunmyō Masuno

About the book

Shunmyō Masuno is a Buddhist monk. The author has explained how Buddhist wisdom helps lead a simple life with examples and anecdotes. He has shown how one can apply Buddhist wisdom in the modern era. He has indicated various actions one should take to apply the principles. The following are the points that summarize his direction in the book.

  • The simple living- here the author explains that modernization has led to complexity in our lives. To live simply one must part themselves from modernization
  • Zazen meditation: This part emphasizes the fact that finding time alone for meditation is a necessity for living peacefully.
  • Munen muso- here the author talks about clearing our minds from negative thoughts to think clearly
  • The three poison- the author enlist the emotions of anger, greed and ignorance as the poisons of our life.
  • Avoid black and white thinking—the author reveals an important fact that the world is nothing but the shade of grey. There is nothing that is completely wrong or right.
  • Be here now- being mindful and present at the moment is the key to greater things.
  • Be grateful for ordinary moments—the author directs readers to be grateful for at least 3 ordinary moments each day.
  • Know how much is enough- greed is a part of human nature that destroys him. So it is necessary to understand where to stop
  • Wabi-sabi- this is a Japanese term to find perfection in imperfection
  • Knowledge and wisdom- knowledge if not applied does not become wisdom. The author also indicates one should never rely on others’ opinions and perspectives for our actions. The only thing one can rely on is their own thought

The author gives some direction plans to achieve the above-stated points

How this book helps

As the title of the book suggests, it imparts you wisdom for living a simple yet peaceful life. If you are the one who always has chaos as part of your life. You must give a try to this book. This book will fascinate you with its anecdotes and simple directives that will make you a calmer and more peaceful human.

Best philosophy books

Availability: The paperback is available at 315 INR on Amazon

6. Wabi-sabi: Japnese wisdom to living perfectly imperfect life- Beth Kempton

Best philosophy books

About the book

Above we’ve learnt about the term Wabi-sabi. But here the author has greatly emphasized the fact that accepting things as they are with their imperfection. She has explained the following pieces of wisdom concisely and clearly

  • Simplifying and beautifying- simplifying one’s life can make it less hard in a manner that it will start appearing beautiful
  • Living with nature- living close to nature helps worries meltdown and brings happiness
  • Acceptance and letting go- there should be no regrets in one’s life one should accept life as it is and let go of the thing that is not under the control
  • Reframing failure- failure is the inexplicable part of learning. So looking at failures as part of learning helps you gain something rather than losing anything
  • Cherish moments- life is all about the small yet happy moments one can cherish and live happily
  • Similar to the one enlisted before this book. The author of this book also indicates several ways in which one can achieve the above

How this book helps

This is the book of acceptance and finding happiness in our life. To those who crib about life, and find excuses to regret. This book will surely serve as a guide to finding happiness in a non-happening life. This book will drain your negative emotions. This will let you accept and let go of the way life is while admiring its beauty.  Simply put this book will turn your negative perspectives into positive ones

Best philosophy books

Availability: Paperback is available on Amazon at 319 INR

7.Letters to stoic- Seneca

About the book

The book is a compilation of 124 letters Seneca wrote to his friend Licinius on how to become a stoic. It is not known whether it ever reached the friend, but these letters help a person become stoic. The major three lessons achieved from the book are as follows:

  • Being content- Seneca here tells that the cravings and greed of a person can never help him lead a better life. So one needs to be content with whatever one has received
  • Mind is our asset- the thoughts that occur in our mind are the only asset that helps us take action and lead a good life. So it is necessary to mend a good relationship with your mind to lead a better life
  • Choose friends wisely- here the author states that the wise person does not need friends as he is happy by himself and does not need a void to be filled. So have a few friends but entrust them fully.

How this book helps

These letters/essays in this book revolve around the three central ideas discussed above. This book once understood deeply makes a person wise. So if you are looking to make better and wiser decisions in life. Add this book to your TBR list for becoming wiser.

Best philosophy books

Availability: the paperback is available on Amazon at 328 INR

8. Law of human nature- Robert Greene

Best philosophy books

About the book

This is the best book in philosophy that explains human nature. The author explains in detail the 18 laws of human nature. The author further goes on to explain that understanding these laws can help us empathize with our fellow humans. Here there is an abundant number of lessons the author wants to impart to the readers. The author has used insights from the most influential people such as king Martin Luther, and Queen Elizabeth. The author is a psychologist himself and with help of the insights and examples makes the laws easier to understand. This book is basically a compendium that one can refer to in various situations in life

How this book helps

This book is mainly for entrepreneurs and leaders who are generally managing humans. Human nature is by far the most complex thing to understand. By referring to the book over and over, one can get a deep understanding of human nature. This will help one empathize with fellow humans, understand them, and find solutions to the problems amongst humans or with humans.

Best philosophy books

Availability: The paperback is available on Amazon at 519 INR

9. Being and Time- Martin Heidegger

Best philosophy books

About the book

In this book, the author makes an analysis of the “ being” that is human. While doing so, he also refers to time. Time is finite, and so is human life. This book has two divisions, and each division has six chapters. These six chapters are further divided into 83 sections with analytical composition. Throughout the book, the author makes an analysis of humans, however, he never comes to a conclusion. The central theme of the book is that it rejects the previous philosophy that humans are not a part of the universe but detached from it. Here the authors state that humans are inseparable from the materialistic world. He talks about various human aspects such as communication and connection between two humans while making an analysis of humans.

How this book help

This book helps us understand the true meaning of being. One has to understand the true nature of the existence of human beings to understand the psychology of humans. This book is for those who are intrigued by human existence and want to deeply enrich themselves by understanding it.

Availability: The paperback is available on Amazon at 1,347 INR

10. Meditation- Marcus Aurelius

Best philosophy books

About the book

Marcus Aurelius was an emperor of Rome. He has compiled 12 books on stoicism and gives a deep insight into stoicism in the book. This book has to be summarized. It can be said that this book has everything to serve as a guide for living. Marcus has talked about logic and how human brains find certain things logically but fail to find logic in others. He says that everything that happens on earth has a reason, whether logical or not. According to Marcus, pain and suffering are self-inflicted problems and not something that is caused by external sources. He also states that complaining is nothing but a waste of time and energy.

How this book helps

In this modern era, people are finding stoic teaching much more valuable and applicable. This book shows us how stoic people think and live life happily. Stoic teachings are full of wisdom on how to lead a life peacefully, without regrets, and minimize the harm caused by suffering as much as possible. Reading this book will help you attain the deeper meaning of Stoic teaching.

Best philosophy books

Availability: The paperback is available on Amazon at 139 INR

Final thoughts on the best philosophy books

Reading philosophy is taxing and hard to digest. But believe me in this that life has never come with a set of guidelines on how to behave and react to any given situation so it is necessary to rethink our actions. Thinking or thoughts per se are provoked by negative as well as positive environments. So why let our actions be a result of negative perspectives imposed by societies? And not by the great thinkers of all time. As the great philosopher, Socrates states “The unexamined life is not worth living”

FAQ’S

Q1. Why one should read philosophy?

It helps us to question and think about our belief system which further leads to strengthening them and leading a life abiding by it

Q2. How should I read philosophy books?

These books are to be read and re-read to understand the deeper meaning and the agenda of the philosopher. Firstly, understand what the book is about book. Second, go through it slowly by contemplating each fact and lastly come back and reanalyze your thoughts. Annotation is a must while reading philosophy

Q3. Where should I start reading philosophy?

Greek philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle and Socrates are great to start with

Q4. Reading philosophy books is difficult?

Indeed, it is, but worth it

Q5. Where can I get philosophy books?

Paperback editions of the books are available on various platforms such as amazon and Flipkart

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