Book Report: Stoicism 101
This is an ongoing series of recommendations on books I deem to be eye-opening or life changing. In Edition 2 I'm sharing a short list of books on Philosophy with a particular focus on Stoicism.
To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live, according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. – Henry David Thoreau
I strongly believe in living by a set of principles that give you meaning and help guide your decision-making. These books would be a great starter kit for anyone interested in exploring how philosophy (especially Stoicism) could be a way of developing a coherent life plan.
I focus on Stoicism in particular because it aligns well with my innate personality traits and has served as an invaluable addition to my life. I particularly resonate with its focus on living well, flourishing, and making the most of our current circumstances. But whether they address Stoicism or philosophy more broadly, these books will instill in you a desire to seek wisdom – starting with an examination of self.
A Guide to the Good Life – William Irvine
Irvine shows us how Stoicism, one of the most popular school of thoughts in ancient Rome, is still applicable to us in modern times. It serves as a roadmap for applying Stoic techniques to the attainment of self awareness, peace of mind, and contentment.
Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
This is a series of personal writing of the great philosopher Emperor. Intended as a private journal for his own personal development, we find the intimate notes and ideas that Aurelius recorded on Stoicism. Central themes in the book are understanding one's self and having a perspective on the world and how you fit into it. He also waxes eloquently about how to be a good man.
Shortness of Life – Seneca
Seneca's Stoic writings offer powerful insights into how to live, how to reason, and how to have integrity. His elegant work is timeless as it addresses a fear we've long struggled with as humans – running out of time. Read a passage from the book here.
Story of Philosophy – Will Durant
A concise and very readable account of the ideas and lives of the great philosophers including Plato, Aristotle, Voltaire, Kant, Nietzsche, and many more. It is an excellent historical survey of the development of philosophy in the Western world.