The beginning of any new endeavour is crucial. Stoicism is no exception. So, we’ve compiled a list of five books that can help you comprehend Stoicism while also teaching you essential life skills.
If this is your first encounter with stoic philosophy, you may be concerned that it would be too scholarly, but it’s not at all like that. These are some of humanity’s most readable, relatable, and compelling works. There is no other philosophic writing that is more relatable to today’s era. We guarantee these stoicism books will make you a better person.
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Few ancient works have been as influential as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and emperor of Rome (A.D. 161–180). A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus’s insights and advice—on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others—have made the Meditations required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations of ordinary readers have responded to the straightforward intimacy of his style. For anyone who struggles to reconcile the demands of leadership with a concern for personal integrity and spiritual well-being, the Meditations remains as relevant now as it was two thousand years ago.
In Gregory Hays’s new translation—the first in thirty-five years—Marcus’s thoughts speak with a new immediacy. In fresh and unencumbered English, Hays vividly conveys the spareness and compression of the original Greek text. Never before have Marcus’s insights been so directly and powerfully presented.
With an Introduction that outlines Marcus’s life and career, the essentials of Stoic doctrine, the style and construction of the Meditations, and the work’s ongoing influence, this edition makes it possible to fully rediscover the thoughts of one of the most enlightened and intelligent leaders of any era.
Letters from a stoic by Seneca
For several years of his turbulent life, Seneca was the guiding hand of the Roman Empire. His inspired reasoning derived mainly from the Stoic principles, which had originally been developed some centuries earlier in Athens. This selection of Seneca’s letters shows him upholding the austere ethical ideals of Stoicism—the wisdom of the self-possessed person immune to overmastering emotions and life’s setbacks—while valuing friendship and the courage of ordinary men, and criticizing the harsh treatment of slaves and the cruelties in the gladiatorial arena. The humanity and wit revealed in Seneca’s interpretation of Stoicism is a moving and inspiring declaration of the dignity of the individual mind.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Discoursed and Selected Writings by Epictetus
DESPITE BEING BORN into slavery, Greco-Roman philosopher Epictetus became one of the most influential thinkers of his time. Discourses and Selected Writings is a transcribed collection of informal lectures given by the philosopher around AD 108. A gateway into the life and mind of a great intellectual, it is also an important example of the usage of Koine or ?common? Greek, an ancestor to Standard Modern Greek.
Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
“While the history books are filled with tales of obsessive visionary geniuses who remade the world in their image with sheer, almost irrational force, I’ve found that history is also made by individuals who fought their egos at every turn, who eschewed the spotlight, and who put their higher goals above their desire for recognition.” —from the prologue
Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within: our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.
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.
In an era that glorifies social media, reality TV, and other forms of shameless self-promotion, the battle against ego must be fought on many fronts. Armed with the lessons in this book, as Holiday writes, “you will be less invested in the story you tell about your own specialness, and as a result, you will be liberated to accomplish the world-changing work you’ve set out to achieve.”
The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday
Why have history’s greatest minds—from George Washington to Frederick the Great to Ralph Waldo Emerson, along with today’s top performers from Super Bowl-winning football coaches to CEOs and celebrities—embraced the wisdom of the ancient Stoics? Because they realize that the most valuable wisdom is timeless and that philosophy is for living a better life, not a classroom exercise.
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.
By following these teachings over the course of a year (and, indeed, for years to come) you’ll find the serenity, self-knowledge, and resilience you need to live well.
Bonus: Stoic Tarot Deck by Bobby Taslimi & Nikoleta Pantechou
In creation of the Stoic Tarot, the ancient wisdom of the great stoics was reinvented in cathartic and captivating artwork.
During one’s journey to fulfillment and happiness, stoicism can immediately resonate. The world we live in can be intimidating, dark and a scary place. Especially when you are faced with failure in a society where failure is seen as a weakness. Stoicism is a philosophy for leadership. It teaches us that, before we try to control events, we have to control ourselves first. Our attempts to exert influence on the world are subject to chance, disappointment, and failure–but control of the self is the only kind that can succeed 100% of the time.
Created by Bobby Taslimi and designed by Nikoleta Pantechou, Stoic Tarot is a deck built around Greco-Roman philosophy and art. The deck is also very inclusive. Whenever you feel the need to explore your inner thoughts and feelings, and have those explained by philosophy, this is the right tarot deck for you. The key characters used in this deck are famous personalities from the dark and middle eras, and the personifications carry a lot of meaning leaving room for interpretation.
With a bit of research on ancient mythology, the great stoics & by using Stoic Tarot’s guidebook, the Stoic Tarot deck can help explain thoughts and situations, and guide you to solve them to feel content, gratified and ultimately wiser with the knowledge of the stoics.