When I stumbled upon Stoic philosophy, something clicked.
I love the concept of reframing and the fact that it’s not external events that trouble us, but actually our internal reaction to those events.
That was definitely a lightbulb moment for me…and therefore I’ve sought other books to help me shimmy down the Stoic rabbit-hole.
I humbly present my findings here. Enjoy!
Books Like Meditations
1. Letters from a Stoic by Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Letters from a Stoic by Lucius Annaeus Seneca is a delightful read, and it’s amazing how relevant its teachings still are today.
Seneca, a prominent Roman philosopher, shares his wisdom through a series of letters to his friend Lucilius.
The letters cover a wide range of topics, including ethics, human nature, friendship, and grief.
What I appreciate most about this book is how it challenges the reader to examine their own beliefs and actions.
Seneca doesn’t shy away from the hard questions, and he encourages his readers to do the same.
He teaches that we must be willing to confront our fears and shortcomings if we want to live a fulfilling life.
One of the key takeaways from the book is the importance of living in the present moment.
Seneca urges us to focus on the present rather than getting caught up in worries about the future or regrets about the past.
He also emphasizes the value of practicing self-control, which he believes is essential to living a virtuous life.
Another lesson that resonated with me was the idea that we should embrace challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth.
Seneca believed that adversity was necessary for personal development and that we should welcome it rather than running from it.
This is a powerful message that is still relevant today, especially in a world where many of us seek comfort and avoid discomfort.
Overall, Letters from a Stoic is a timeless classic that offers valuable insights into the human experience.
Seneca’s words have stood the test of time, and I highly recommend this book to anyone who is seeking more Stoic wisdom.
2. Discourses and Selected Writings by Epictetus
“Discourses and Selected Writings” is a collection of works by the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, which has remained a source of inspiration for readers for over 2,000 years.
The book is a practical guide to living a virtuous life through the practice of Stoicism, a philosophy that teaches us to focus on what is within our control and let go of what is not.
Reading Epictetus feels like sitting down with an old friend who is wise beyond their years.
He reminds us that happiness is not found in external things, but in how we choose to think about and respond to the events in our lives.
He teaches us to cultivate a mindset of acceptance and resilience, and to develop a sense of duty to our fellow human beings.
One of the most striking things about Epictetus’ writing is his directness.
He speaks plainly and without pretense, cutting through the noise of everyday life to deliver simple truths that are as relevant today as they were in ancient times.
He tells us to embrace adversity and to use it as an opportunity to grow and become stronger, encouraging us to question our assumptions and to think critically about the world around us.
While some might dismiss Stoicism as being overly harsh or unfeeling, Epictetus’ writing shows that it is anything but.
He recognizes that life can be difficult and painful, and that we will all face hardship at some point.
But he also shows us that we have the power to choose how we respond to these challenges, and that we can find meaning and purpose in even the most difficult of circumstances.
For me personally, reading Epictetus was like a breath of fresh air.
In a world that can feel overwhelming and chaotic, his words provided a sense of grounding and perspective and I found myself nodding along in agreement as he challenged me to rethink my assumptions.
And while I certainly haven’t mastered the art of Stoicism, his teachings have stayed with me and continue to shape the way I view the world.
Whether you’re a longtime fan of Stoicism or simply looking for guidance on how to live a more meaningful life, this is a must-read.
3. A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine
A Guide to the Good Life by William B. Irvine is like having a wise, philosophical mentor at your fingertips.
The book provides a refreshing and practical take on Stoicism, which is often seen as a dusty and ancient philosophy.
The book begins by introducing Stoicism as a practical philosophy that emphasizes the importance of living in the present moment and being mindful of our thoughts and actions.
Irvine explains that, while we cannot always control external events, we can control our own reactions to them.
He argues that by practicing Stoic techniques such as negative visualization, self-denial, and self-awareness, we can cultivate a sense of calm and find meaning in our lives.
What I appreciated most about the book is how Irvine makes Stoicism accessible and relevant to modern life.
Instead of focusing on abstract concepts, he offers tangible tools and techniques that readers can use to cultivate a more fulfilling and virtuous life.
He provides practical advice on everything from dealing with difficult people to managing our desires and emotions.
I also appreciated how Irvine acknowledges the challenges of practicing Stoicism in the modern world.
He recognizes that we live in a culture that values external success and material possessions, which can make it difficult to prioritize inner virtues like wisdom and self-control.
Despite these challenges, he encourages readers to take small steps towards a more Stoic way of life and to embrace the benefits that come with it.
While some may find Irvine’s writing style a bit dry or academic, I found it to be clear and straightforward.
His personal anecdotes and examples help to bring the philosophy to life and make it easier to understand.
4. How to Think Like a Roman Emperor by Donald J. Robertson
As I delved into “this book, I found myself drawn in by Robertson’s relatable storytelling and down-to-earth approach to ancient philosophy.
The author takes the reader on a journey through the life of Marcus Aurelius, exploring how he applied the teachings of Stoicism to his daily life as a leader and how we can do the same.
What struck me most about this book was the way Robertson uses Marcus Aurelius’ life story to illustrate the practical applications of Stoic philosophy.
He doesn’t just offer abstract theories or philosophical musings, but instead provides concrete examples of how Stoic principles can be applied to our modern lives.
The book’s narrative structure also helps to keep the reader engaged, as we follow Marcus Aurelius through his trials and tribulations and see how he applies his Stoic principles to overcome them.
In addition, I appreciated Robertson’s honesty about how stoicism applies to modern mental health and how it can help us cope.
This added a personal touch from a qualified psychotherapist made it clear that Robertson wasn’t just a detached academic, but someone who has been personally impacted by these teachings.
This book is an excellent accompaniment to Meditations and is especially useful for anyone looking to improve their mental resilience and live a more fulfilling life.
5. How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci
Reading this book felt like a great use of time after reading the classic Stoic texts themselves.
Pigliucci does a fantastic job of explaining the principles of Stoicism in a relatable and down-to-earth way.
In addition to the common principle of internalizing our locus of control, another valuable aspect of the book is its emphasis on the Stoic idea of living in accordance with nature.
This doesn’t mean living in the woods and eschewing modern conveniences, but rather aligning our actions and values with the natural world and the human community.
In this way, Pigliucci argues that practicing Stoicism can help us lead more fulfilling lives and contribute positively to society.
His writing style is approachable, and he injects humor and personal anecdotes throughout the book that help to humanize the philosophy.
One thing that stood out to me about How to Be a Stoic was Pigliucci’s emphasis on the practicality of the philosophy.
He doesn’t present it as an abstract theory but rather as a practical prescription that can be applied to daily life.
His discussions of how to handle emotions, deal with difficult people, and make ethical decisions are all rooted in real-life examples that we can all relate to.
Another aspect of the book that I appreciated was Pigliucci’s acknowledgement of the limitations of Stoicism.
He recognizes that no philosophy can solve all of life’s problems or answer all of our questions, but he also argues that Stoicism provides a useful framework for approaching life’s challenges.
- Focus on the present, rather than past regrets or future worries
- Embrace adversity – use it as a growth opportunity
- Reframe challenges – “nothing is either good or bad, only thinking makes it so”
- Practice negative visualization and self denial
- Live in accordance with nature