29 of the Best Philosophy Books of All-Time

The questions of the universe are seemingly never-ending and unanswerable. But luckily we have access to some of the greatest philosophical minds in history through their writing. This reading list of the best philosophy books of all time features works from the greats like Plato and Nietzsche as well as modern reads from inspiring thinkers like the Dalai Lama. Though nothing is absolute in philosophy, one thing is sure — these books will have you thinking long after the last page. Publishers’ descriptions included.

The Tried and True Classics

From Ancient Greek philosophers to 20th-century thought leaders, these best philosophy books of all time feature the must-read ancient and modern classics.

Beyond Good And Evil
by Friedrich Nietzsche

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Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil is a critical response to metaphysical writings that try to define good and evil. Nietzsche advocates for an individualized way of thinking that focuses on the realities of life and that ignores traditional moral conventions, including religion, free will, and self-consciousness.

Divided into nine subjects areas, Beyond Good and Evil was written in a polemical style consisting of 296 short sections. Published shortly after Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil expands on and adds to the ideas of that previous work.

 

Being and Nothingness
by Jean-Paul Sartre

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Revisit one of the most important pillars in modern philosophy with this new English translation — the first in more than 60 years — of Jean-Paul Sartre’s seminal treatise on existentialism.

In 1943, Jean-Paul Sartre published his masterpiece, Being and Nothingness, and laid the foundation of his legacy as one of the greatest 20th-century philosophers. A brilliant and radical account of the human condition, Being and Nothingness explores what gives our lives significance.

In a new, more accessible translation, this foundational text argues that we alone create our values and our existence is characterized by freedom and the inescapability of choice. Far from being an internal, passive container for our thoughts and experiences, the human consciousness is constantly projecting itself into the outside world and imbuing it with meaning.

Now with a new foreword by Harvard professor of philosophy Richard Moran, this clear-eyed translation guarantees that the groundbreaking ideas that Sartre introduced in this resonant work will continue to inspire for generations to come.

 

The Complete Essays of Michel de Montaigne
by Michel de Montaigne

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With the goal of describing man with complete frankness and using himself as his most frequent example, Michel de Montaigne first published his Essays in 1580.

This collection of 107 chapters encompasses a wide variety of subjects, originally inspired by his study of Latin classics, and later by the lives of the leading figures of his time. Michel de Montaigne saw the most basic elements of man as variety and unpredictability, and this idea permeates the entire work, even as he explores a myriad of topics, including theology, philosophy, law, fame, memory, death, and his own daily schedule.

The longest essay, entitled ‘Apology for Raymond Sebond,’ contains his most famous quote: “What do I know?” This perhaps embodies the spirit of the entire volume, for it reflects both the inquisitory search for intellectual knowledge as well as the more personal anecdotal quality of a work that has had an enduring impact on both French and English literature for hundreds of years. This edition includes the complete collection of Montaigne’s Essays.

 

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
by Marcus Aurelius

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Marcus Annius Verus was born in Rome, A. D. 121, and assumed the name of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, by which he is known to history, on his adoption by the Emperor T. Aurelius Antoninus. M. Aurelius was educated by the orator Fronto, but turned aside from rhetoric to the study of the Stoic philosophy, of which he was the last distinguished representative. The Meditations, which he wrote in Greek, are among the most noteworthy expressions of this system, and exhibit it favorably on its practical side. The Meditationspicture with faithfulness the mind and character of this noblest of the emperors. Simple in style and sincere in tone, they record, for posterity, the height reached by pagan aspiration in its effort to solve the problem of conduct; and the essential agreement of his practice, coupled with his teaching, proved that even in a palace life may be led well.

 

The Dialogues of Plato
by Plato

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Socrates’s ancient words are still true, and the ideas found in Plato’s Dialogues still form the foundation of a thinking person’s education. This superb collection contains excellent contemporary translations selected for their clarity and accessibility to today’s reader, as well as an incisive introduction by Erich Segal, which reveals Plato’s life and clarifies the philosophical issues examined in each dialogue. The first four dialogues recount the trial and execution of Socrates — the extraordinary tragedy that changed Plato’s life and forever altered the course of Western thought. Other dialogues create a rich tableau of intellectual life in Athens in the fourth century B. C., and examine such timeless — and timely — issues as the nature of virtue and love, knowledge and truth, and society and the individual. Resounding with the humor and astounding brilliance of Socrates, the immortal iconoclast, these great works remain powerful, probing, and essential.

 

Confessions of Saint Augustine
by Augustine of Hippo

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St. Augustine’s Confessions was written between AD 397-400. An autobiographical work, it was written in 13 parts, each a complete text intended to be read aloud. Written in his early 40s, it documents the development of Augustine’s thought from childhood into his adult life — a life he considered in retrospect to be both sinful and immoral. He was in his early 30s before he converted to Christianity, but was soon ordained as a priest and became a bishop not long after.

Confessions not only documented his conversion but sought to offer guidance to others taking the same path. Considered to be the first Western autobiography to be written, Augustine’s work (including the subsequent ‘City of God’) became a major influence on Christian writers for the next 1,000 years and remains a much-valued contribution to Christian thinking.

This edition uses the classic translation from Latin by E.B. Pusey (1838) with a partial modernization of the text to assist the modern reader.

 

Meditations On The First Philosophy
by Rene Descartes

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In Meditations on First Philosophy, French philosopher René Descartes, now regarded as the father of Western philosophy, introduces the concept of the dichotomy — the separation of mind and body — by determining, “I think, therefore I am.”

 

Man’s Search For Meaning
by Viktor E Frankl

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Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of others he treated later in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory — known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (“meaning”) — holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

At the time of Frankl’s death in 1997, Man’s Search for Meaning had sold more than 10 million copies in 24 languages. A 1991 reader survey for the Library of Congress that asked readers to name a “book that made a difference in your life” found Man’s Search for Meaning among the ten most influential books in America.

 

The Second Sex
by Simone de Beauvoir

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Simone de Beauvoir’s essential masterwork is a powerful analysis of the Western notion of “woman,” and a revolutionary exploration of inequality and otherness. Unabridged in English for the first time, this long-awaited edition reinstates significant portions of the original French text that were cut in the first English translation. Vital and groundbreaking, Beauvoir’s pioneering and impressive text remains as pertinent today as when it was first published, and will continue to provoke and inspire generations of men and women to come.

 

A Treatise of Human Nature
by David Hume

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One of the most significant works of Western philosophy, Hume’s Treatise was published in 1739-40, before he was 30 years old. A pinnacle of English empiricism, it is a comprehensive attempt to apply scientific methods of observation to a study of human nature, and a vigorous attack upon the principles of traditional metaphysical thought. With masterly eloquence, Hume denies the immortality of the soul and the reality of space; considers the manner in which we form concepts of identity, cause and effect; and speculates upon the nature of freedom, virtue, and emotion. Opposed both to metaphysics and to rationalism, Hume’s philosophy of informed scepticism sees man not as a religious creation, nor as a machine, but as a creature dominated by sentiment, passion, and appetite.

 

The Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle
by Aristotle

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Nicomachean Ethics focuses on the importance of habitually behaving virtuously and developing a virtuous character. Aristotle emphasized the importance of context to ethical behavior, and the ability of the virtuous person to recognize the best course of action. Aristotle argued that happiness and well-being is the goal of life, and that a person’s pursuit of such, rightly conceived, will result in virtuous conduct.

 

Tao Te Ching
by Lao Tzu

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No other English translation of this greatest of the Chinese classics can match Ursula Le Guin’s striking new version. Le Guin, best known for thought-provoking science fiction novels that have helped to transform the genre, has studied the Tao Te Ching for more than forty years. She has consulted the literal translations and worked with Chinese scholars to develop a version that lets the ancient text speak in a fresh way to modern people, while remaining faithful to the poetic beauty of the work. Avoiding scholarly interpretations and esoteric Taoist insights, she has revealed the Tao Te Ching ’s immediate relevance and power, as well as its depth and refreshing humor, in a way that shows better than ever before why it has been so much loved for more than 2,500 years. Included are Le Guin’s own personal commentary and notes on the text. This new version is sure to be welcomed by the many readers of the Tao Te Ching as well as those coming to the text for the first time.

 

Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic
by Seneca

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As chief adviser to the emperor Nero, Lucius Annaeus Seneca was most influential in ancient Rome as a power behind the throne. His lasting fame derives from his writings on Stoic ideology, in which philosophy is a practical form of self-improvement rather than a matter of argument or wordplay. Seneca’s letters to a young friend advise action rather than reflection, addressing the issues that confront every generation: how to achieve a good life, how to avoid corruption and self-indulgence, and how to live without fear of death.

Written in an intimate, conversational style, the letters reflect the traditional Stoic focus on living in accordance with nature and accepting the world on its own terms. The philosopher emphasizes the Roman values of courage, self-control, and rationality, yet he remains remarkably modern in his tolerant and cosmopolitan attitude. Rich in epigrammatic wit, Seneca’s interpretation of Stoicism constitutes a timeless and inspiring declaration of the dignity of the individual mind.

 

The Social Contract
by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau writes, “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains.” This statement exemplifies the main idea behind The Social Contract, in other words that man is essentially free if it weren’t for the oppression of political organizations such as government. Rousseau goes on to lay forth the principles that he deems most important for achieving political right amongst people. Contained within this volume are also two discourses by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In ‘A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality,’ Rousseau examines the causes of the inequalities that exist among men, concluding that it is the natural result of the formation of any civilization. In ‘A Discourse on Political Economy,’ Rousseau examines the nature of politics and their effect on people. These three works lay a solid foundation for the political philosophy of Rousseau and are a must read for any student of political science or philosophy.

 

The Critique of Pure Reason
by Immanuel Kant

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Immanuel’s Kant’s groundbreaking work, considered to be among the most influential philosophical texts in the Western canon.

Familiar to philosophy students through the centuries, The Critique of Pure Reason is in many ways Kant’s magnum opus. First published in 1781, it seeks to define what can be known by reason alone without evidence from experience. Kant begins by defining a posteriori knowledge, which is gained through the senses, versus a priori knowledge, or self-evident truths understood without the benefit of experience. He then examines these two types of knowledge in the context of analytic and synthetic judgments, using the relationship between them to conclude that through reason alone, humans are capable of reaching deep universal truths. Kant then demonstrates how  even as much of the world around us can never be truly known — the laws of the universe are in fact made possible by the human capacity for reason itself.

Sparking intense and lasting discussion, The Critique of Pure Reason remains essential reading for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the ideas that, since their initial publication, have gone on to shape much of Western philosophy.

 

The Prince
by Niccolò Machiavelli

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As a young Florentine envoy to the courts of France and the Italian principalities, Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was able to observe firsthand the lives of people strongly united under one powerful ruler. His fascination with that political rarity and his intense desire to see the Medici family assume a similar role in Italy provided the foundation for his “primer for princes.” In this classic guide to acquiring and maintaining political power, Machiavelli used a rational approach to advise prospective rulers, developing logical arguments and alternatives for a number of potential problems, among them governing hereditary monarchies, dealing with colonies, and the treatment of conquered peoples. Refreshing in its directness, yet often disturbing in its cold practicality, The Prince sets down a frighteningly pragmatic formula for political fortune. Starkly relevant to the political upheavals of the 20th century, this calculating prescription for power remains today, nearly 500 years after it was written, a timely and startling lesson in the practice of autocratic rule that continues to be much read and studied by students, scholars, and general readers as well.

 

History of Western Philosophy
by Bertrand Russell

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Hailed as “lucid and magisterial” by The Observer, this book is universally acclaimed as the outstanding one-volume work on the subject of Western philosophy.

Considered to be one of the most important philosophical works of all-time, A History of Western Philosophy is a dazzlingly unique exploration of the ideologies of significant philosophers throughout the ages — from Plato and Aristotle through to Spinoza, Kant, and the 20th century. Written by a man who changed the history of philosophy himself, this is an account that has never been rivaled since its first publication over 60 years ago.

Since its first publication in 1945, Lord Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy is still unparalleled in its comprehensiveness, its clarity, its erudition, its grace, and its wit. In 76 chapters he traces philosophy from the rise of Greek civilization to the emergence of logical analysis in the 20th century.

Modern Philosophy Books

Looking to branch out to some of the more modern best philosophy books of all time? Here are releases from recent years that are sure to get you thinking.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Robert M. Pirsig

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Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974, transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions. This 25th Anniversary Quill Edition features a new introduction by the author; important typographical changes; and a Reader’s Guide that includes discussion topics, an interview with the author, and letters and documents detailing how this extraordinary book came to be. A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live. The narrator’s relationship with his son leads to a powerful self-reckoning; the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconciling science, religion, and humanism. Resonant with the confusions of existence, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a touching and transcendent book of life.

 

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
by Don Miguel Ruiz and Janet Mills

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In The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.

 

The Book of Joy
by Dalai Lama XIV, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams

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Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than 50 years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships — or, as they would say, because of them — they are two of the most joyful people on the planet.

In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness’s 80th birthday and to create what they hoped would be a gift for others. They looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?

They traded intimate stories, teased each other continually, and shared their spiritual practices. By the end of a week filled with laughter and punctuated with tears, these two global heroes had stared into the abyss and despair of our time and revealed how to live a life brimming with joy.

This book offers us a rare opportunity to experience their astonishing and unprecendented week together, from the first embrace to the final good-bye.

We get to listen as they explore the ‘Nature of True Joy’ and confront each of the ‘Obstacles of Joy’ — from fear, stress, and anger to grief, illness, and death. They then offer us the ‘Eight Pillars of Joy,’ which provide the foundation for lasting happiness. Throughout, they include stories, wisdom, and science. Finally, they share their daily ‘Joy Practices’ that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives.

The Archbishop has never claimed sainthood, and the Dalai Lama considers himself a simple monk. In this unique collaboration, they offer us the reflection of real lives filled with pain and turmoil in the midst of which they have been able to discover a level of peace, of courage, and of joy to which we can all aspire in our own lives.

 

The 48 Laws of Power
by Robert Greene

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Amoral, cunning, ruthless, and instructive, this multi-million-copy New York Times bestseller is the definitive manual for anyone interested in gaining, observing, or defending against ultimate control — from the author of The Laws of Human Nature.

In the book that People magazine proclaimed “beguiling” and “fascinating,” Robert Greene and Joost Elffers have distilled 3,000 years of the history of power into 48 essential laws by drawing from the philosophies of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Carl Von Clausewitz and also from the lives of figures ranging from Henry Kissinger to P.T. Barnum.

Some laws teach the need for prudence (‘Law 1: Never Outshine the Master’), others teach the value of confidence (‘Law 28: Enter Action with Boldness’), and many recommend absolute self-preservation (‘Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally’). Every law, though, has one thing in common: an interest in total domination. In a bold and arresting two-color package, The 48 Laws of Power is ideal whether your aim is conquest, self-defense, or simply to understand the rules of the game.

 

The Path
by Christine Gross-Loh and Michael Puett

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For the first time, an award-winning Harvard professor shares his wildly popular course on classical Chinese philosophy, showing you how ancient ideas — like the fallacy of the authentic self — can guide you on the path to a good life today.

Why is a course on ancient Chinese philosophers one of the most popular at Harvard? Because it challenges all our modern assumptions about what it takes to flourish.

Astonishing teachings emerged 2,000 years ago through the work of a succession of Chinese scholars exploring how humans can improve themselves and their society. And what are these counter-intuitive ideas? Transformation comes not from looking within for a true self, but from creating conditions that produce new possibilities. Good relationships come not from being sincere and authentic, but from the rituals we perform within them. A good life emerges not from planning it out, but through training ourselves to respond well to small moments. Influence comes not from wielding power but from holding back. Excellence comes from what we choose to do, not our natural abilities.

In other words, The Path “opens the mind” (Huffington Post) and upends everything we are told about how to lead a good life. Its most radical idea is that there is no path to follow in the first place — just a journey we create anew at every moment by seeing and doing things differently.

 

How to Live
by Sarah Bakewell

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How to get along with people, how to deal with violence, how to adjust to losing someone you love — such questions arise in most people’s lives. They are all versions of a bigger question: how do you live? How do you do the good or honorable thing, while flourishing and feeling happy?

This question obsessed Renaissance writers, none more than Michel Eyquem de Monatigne, perhaps the first truly modern individual. A nobleman, public official, and wine-grower, he wrote free-roaming explorations of his thought and experience, unlike anything written before. He called them “essays,” meaning “attempts” or “tries.” Into them, he put whatever was in his head: his tastes in wine and food, his childhood memories, the way his dog’s ears twitched when it was dreaming, as well as the appalling events of the religious civil wars raging around him. The Essays was an instant bestseller and, over 400 years later, Montaigne’s honesty and charm still draw people to him. Readers come in search of companionship, wisdom, and entertainment — and in search of themselves.

This book, a spirited and singular biography, relates the story of his life by way of the questions he posed and the answers he explored. It traces his bizarre upbringing, youthful career and sexual adventures, his travels, and his friendships with the scholar and poet Étienne de La Boétie and with his adopted “daughter,” Marie de Gournay. And we also meet his readers — who for centuries have found in Montaigne an inexhaustible source of answers to the haunting question, “How to live?”

 

The Wisdom of Insecurity
by Alan W. Watts

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We live in an age of unprecedented anxiety. Spending all our time trying to anticipate and plan for the future and to lamenting the past, we forget to embrace the here and now. We are so concerned with tomorrow that we forget to enjoy today. Drawing from Eastern philosophy and religion, Alan Watts shows that it is only by acknowledging what we do not — and cannot — know that we can learn anything truly worth knowing. In The Wisdom of Insecurity, he shows us how, in order to lead a fulfilling life, we must embrace the present — and live fully in the now.

 

Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity
by Richard Rorty

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In this 1989 book Rorty argues that thinkers such as Nietzsche, Freud, and Wittgenstein have enabled societies to see themselves as historical contingencies, rather than as expressions of underlying, ahistorical human nature or as realizations of suprahistorical goals. This ironic perspective on the human condition is valuable on a private level, although it cannot advance the social or political goals of liberalism. In fact Rorty believes that it is literature not philosophy that can do this, by promoting a genuine sense of human solidarity. A truly liberal culture, acutely aware of its own historical contingency, would fuse the private, individual freedom of the ironic, philosophical perspective with the public project of human solidarity as it is engendered through the insights and sensibilities of great writers. The book has a characteristically wide range of reference from philosophy through social theory to literary criticism. It confirms Rorty’s status as a uniquely subtle theorist, whose writing will prove absorbing to academic and nonacademic readers alike.

 

Sophie’s World
by Jostein Gaarder

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One day Sophie comes home from school to find two questions in her mail: “Who are you?” and “Where does the world come from?” Before she knows it she is enrolled in a correspondence course with a mysterious philosopher. Thus begins Jostein Gaarder’s unique novel, which is not only a mystery, but also a complete and entertaining history of philosophy.

 

Philosophy as a Way of Life
by Pierre Hadot

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This book presents a history of spiritual exercises from Socrates to early Christianity, an account of their decline in modern philosophy, and a discussion of the different conceptions of philosophy that have accompanied the trajectory and fate of the theory and practice of spiritual exercises. Hadot’s book demonstrates the extent to which philosophy has been, and still is, above all else a way of seeing and of being in the world.

 

Aristotle’s Way
by Edith Hall

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From renowned classicist Edith Hall, Aristotle’s Way is an examination of one of history’s greatest philosophers, showing us how to lead happy, fulfilled, and meaningful lives.

Aristotle was the first philosopher to inquire into subjective happiness, and he understood its essence better and more clearly than anyone since. According to Aristotle, happiness is not about well-being, but instead a lasting state of contentment, which should be the ultimate goal of human life. We become happy through finding a purpose, realizing our potential, and modifying our behavior to become the best version of ourselves. With these objectives in mind, Aristotle developed a humane program for becoming a happy person, which has stood the test of time, comprising much of what today we associate with the good life: meaning, creativity, and positivity. Most importantly, Aristotle understood happiness as available to the vast majority us, but only, crucially, if we decide to apply ourselves to its creation — and he led by example. As Hall writes, “If you believe that the goal of human life is to maximize happiness, then you are a budding Aristotelian.”

In expert yet vibrant modern language, Hall lays out the crux of Aristotle’s thinking, mixing affecting autobiographical anecdotes with a deep wealth of classical learning. For Hall, whose own life has been greatly improved by her understanding of Aristotle, this is an intensely personal subject. She distills his ancient wisdom into ten practical and universal lessons to help us confront life’s difficult and crucial moments, summarizing a lifetime of the most rarefied and brilliant scholarship.

By Alyssa Hollingsworth
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Works of Nonfiction to Rival Any Great Thriller Novel

Who doesn’t love a good thriller? Whether a tale of murder and mayhem, a page-turning whodunit, dangerous family secrets, or a bit of good old fashioned espionage – there’s nothing quite like a great page-turner. Occasionally, however, life can prove stranger – and more thrilling – than fiction. Some of the best thrillers just happen to lurk in the pages of the nonfiction world. What better way to change up your usual suspenseful binge than to dive into the pages of a larger-than-life, stranger-than-fiction tale? Here are a few of our favorites.

In Cold Blood Book Cover PictureIn Cold Blood
Truman Capote’s true crime masterpiece is a classic for good reason. It is largely credited with igniting the trend of narrative nonfiction, particularly in true crime, and is lifted by Capote’s skillful storytelling. What truly makes In Cold Blood such a compulsive thriller, however, is Capote’s clear fascination with murderer Perry Smith.

Five Days at Memorial Book Cover PictureFive Days at Memorial
Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink spent six years investigating precisely what went on in a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and the desperate bid for survival amid the chaos within. Following the devastation of the hurricane, hospital power failed, temperatures soared, and floodwaters rose. Caregivers were forced to determine the order of patients for evacuation. Months later, several faced charges of injecting patients with drugs to speed their deaths. With Five Days at Memorial, Sheri Fink reconstructs the events with haunting precision.

The Looming Tower (Movie Tie-in) Book Cover PictureThe Looming Tower 
With a narrative spanning five decades, The Looming Tower breaks down the rise of Al-Qaeda and the disturbing failures in U.S. Intelligence in the lead-up to the 9/11 attacks. Lawrence Wright earned a Pulitzer Prize for his work and it remains the most in-depth account of the myriad events that led to the most deadly terrorist attack ever perpetrated on U.S. soil. It is the definitive history.

Thunderstruck Book Cover PictureThunderstruck
Set against the backdrops of Edwardian London and the coasts of Cornwall, Cape Cod, and Nova Scotia, Erik Larson interweaves the tales of two men — one is creator of a revolutionary means of wireless communication, the other nearly commits the perfect murder. How their stories intersect is a tragic tale of love and betrayal and a suspenseful chase across the North Atlantic. Thunderstruck is Erik Larson at his best.

The Skies Belong to Us Book Cover PictureThe Skies Belong to Us
In an America torn apart by the Vietnam War and the demise of ’60s idealism, airplane hijackings were astonishingly routine. Over a five-year period starting in 1968, the desperate and disillusioned seized commercial jets nearly once a week, using guns, bombs, and jars of acid. Their criminal exploits mesmerized the country, never more so than when shattered Army veteran Roger Holder and mischievous party girl Cathy Kerkow managred to comandeer Western Airlines Flight 701 and flee across an ocean with a half-million dollars in ransom—a heist that remains the longest-distance hijacking in American history.

The Girls of Murder City Book Cover PictureThe Girls of Murder City
With a thrilling, fast-paced narrative, award-winning journalist Douglas Perry vividly captures the sensationalized circus atmosphere that gave rise to the concept of the celebrity criminal- and gave Chicago its most famous story. The Girls of Murder Cityrecounts two scandalous, sex-fueled murder cases and how an intrepid “girl reporter” named Maurine Watkins turned the beautiful, media-savvy suspects-“Stylish Belva” and “Beautiful Beulah”-into the talk of the town.

My Dark Places Book Cover PictureMy Dark Places
In 1958 Jean Ellroy was murdered, her body dumped on a roadway in a seedy L.A. suburb.  Her killer was never found, and the police dismissed her as a casualty of a cheap Saturday night. James Ellroy was ten when his mother died, and he spent the next thirty-six years running from her ghost and attempting to exorcize it through crime fiction. In My Dark Places, our most uncompromising crime writer tells what happened when he teamed up with a brilliant homicide cop to investigate a murder that everyone else had forgotten–and reclaim the mother he had despised, desired, but never dared to love. What ensues is a epic of loss, fixation, and redemption, a memoir that is also a history of the American way of violence.

Killers of the Flower Moon Book Cover PictureKillers of the Flower Moon
In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe. Then, one by one, the Osage began to be killed off. The family of an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, became a prime target. One of her relatives was shot. Another was poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more and more Osage were dying under mysterious circumstances, and many of those who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered.

The Brothers Book Cover PictureThe Brothers
On April 15, 2013, two homemade bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston marathon, killing three people and wounding more than 264 others. In the ensuing manhunt, Tamerlan Tsarnaev died, and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, was captured and brought to trial. Yet even after the guilty verdict and the death sentence, what we didn’t know was why. Why did the American Dream go so wrong for two immigrants? How did such a nightmare come to pass?

The Wicked Boy Book Cover PictureThe Wicked Boy
In the summer of 1895, Robert Coombes (age 13) and his brother Nattie (age 12) were seen spending lavishly around the docklands of East London — for ten days in July, they ate out at coffee houses and took trips to the seaside and the theater. The boys told neighbors they had been left home alone while their mother visited family in Liverpool, but their aunt was suspicious. When she eventually forced the brothers to open the house to her, she found the badly decomposed body of their mother in a bedroom upstairs. Robert and Nattie were arrested for matricide and sent for trial at the Old Bailey. With riveting detail and rich atmosphere, Kate Summerscale recreates this terrible crime and its aftermath, uncovering an extraordinary story of man’s capacity to overcome the past.

By Keith Rice, August 17, 2018, first appearing on Signature Reads

15 OF THE BEST VEGETARIAN COOKBOOKS, TRIED AND TESTED BY A VEGETARIAN

When I was 10 years old, I told my parents I wanted to be a vegetarian. They responded by telling me that was all well and good, but I had to learn how to cook healthy meat-free meals for myself. And so my search for the best vegetarian recipes began in earnest at a very young age. After years at the vegetarian cooking game, I can confidently recommend these vegetarian cookbooks.

15 of the best vegetarian cookbooks, as tried and tested by a vegetarian. cookbooks | book lists | vegetarian cookbooks | best vegetarian cookbooks | vegetarian eating | vegetarian recipes

PLENTY MORE BY YOTTAM OTTOLENGHI

Plenty More is the follow up to London celebrity chef Yottam Ottolenghi’s first vegetarian cookbook Plentyand it features over 150 new recipes organized by cooking method. Ottolenghi is often praised for his originality and his unique mixture of flavors, and this cookbook features plenty (pun intended) of both. This book promises to change the way you cook and eat vegetables.

 

LOVE REAL FOOD BY KATHRYNE TAYLOR

Blogger Kathryne Taylor of Cookie + Kate offers over 100 healthy recipes in this, her first cookbook. In addition to providing recipes for delicious and wholesome vegetarian meals, Taylor offers easy substitutions to make all of her meals special diet-friendly. So if you’re looking for gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free options, this cookbook has you covered! The recipes are all extremely easy to follow as well.

 

VEGAN RICHA’S EVERYDAY KITCHEN BY RICHA HINGLE

You might recognize Richa Hingle from her blog Vegan Richawhere she posts recipes and photographs of her delicious vegan meals. Hingle’s love for food and crafting recipes is clear on her blog, and that has translated well into her two cookbooks. Her first was Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchenand in this, her follow-up, Hingle branches out to include meals from across the globe: Thai, Ethiopian, Pizza, Burgers, Casseroles. They’re all here, and more.

 

VEGANOMICON BY CHANDRA MOSKOWITZ AND TERRY HOPE ROMERO

This monster of a vegan cookbook has so many recipes in it that I swear I find a new one every time I open it up. What’s more, Moskowitz and Romero recently released a 10th anniversary version with 25 additional recipes, meaning this book now has a total of 250 delicious vegan recipes. I wouldn’t call the majority of these recipes quick or easy, but they’re definitely manageable and have always been tasty.

 

BOWL: VEGETARIAN RECIPES FOR RAMEN, PHO, BIBIMBAP, DUMPLINGS, AND OTHER ONE-DISH MEALS BY LUKAS VOLGER

I don’t know why, but something about eating food out of a bowl makes it taste so much better. This is why Lukas Volger’s vegetarian cookbook Bowl appeals to me. Volger includes recipes for one-bowl meals from various cultures, starting with the Japanese ramen bowl and branching out all the way to burrito bowls. If it’s delicious and it fits in a bowl, it fits in this cookbook. In addition, Volger includes many tips and techniques for broth, handmade noodles, garnishes, sauces, and much more. So when you start feeling really bold, you can begin work on your own bowl creations.

 

SAFFRON SOUL BY MIRA MANEK

I really, really love Indian food, and Mira Manek’s vegetarian Indian cookbook is one of my absolute favorites. This vegetarian cookbook is full of delicious recipes that are easy to follow. What’s more, Manek focuses on a healthier, lighter take on traditional Indian cuisine without sacrificing flavor.

 

VEGETARIAN DISHES FROM MY KOREAN HOME BY SHIN KIM

South Korean native Shin Kim offers up 30 delicious Korean recipes in this vegetarian cookbook. More importantly, in this quick and easy cookbook, Kim provides her culinary expertise from years of experience in Seoul and New York City. With Kim’s instructions, readers will learn to mix and match different seasonings and ingredients to create their own Korean dishes.

 

CHLOE’S VEGAN ITALIAN KITCHEN BY CHLOE COSCARELLI

With its creamy sauces and decadent desserts, Italian food doesn’t have much of a reputation for being vegan-friendly. But popular vegan chef and winner of the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars Chloe Coscarelli says it’s time to rethink Italian food with a vegan twist. In this cookbook, Coscarelli rethinks traditional Italian fare, making everything healthy, totally vegan, and even more delicious than the originals. And if you need gluten free options, she has you covered there too.

 

GREEN KITCHEN AT HOME: QUICK AND HEALTHY VEGETARIAN FOOD FOR EVERY DAY BY DAVID FRENKIEL AND LUISE VINDHAL

If you’re looking for the mother of all quick, easy, healthy vegetarian cookbooks, you have found the one! All of the recipes included in this book are accessible for cooking newbies and are perfect for weekday nights when you need to throw a meal together in a hurry. Even better, Frenkiel and Vindhal offer a few recipe short cuts for nights when you’re really low on time.

 

WHY VEGAN IS THE NEW BLACK BY DEBORRAH COOPER

If you’re new to veganism or just want to dabble a little bit before fully committing, Why Vegan is the New Black is the perfect introductory vegan cookbook to try out. Deborrah Cooper features simple, classic American and soul food recipes that the entire family will enjoy, whether they’re vegan or not.

 

A COUPLE COOKS: PRETTY SIMPLE COOKING BY SONJA AND ALEX OVERHISER

Sonja and Alex Overhiser are the husband-and-wife blogging and podcasting power couple behind A Couple Cooks. And now, they’ve put all of their vibrant personality and joy for cooking delicious vegetarian meals into this cookbook. The focus here is just what the title says it is: pretty simple cooking. Recipes are arranged from quickest to most time-consuming, so you know exactly what you’re getting into before you start.

 

EAT FEEL FRESH: A CONTEMPORARY, PLANT-BASED AYURVEDIC COOKBOOK BY SAHARA ROSE KETABI 

If you’ve never heard of an Ayurvedic diet before, it’s an eating plan that emphasizes mindful eating and whole unprocessed foods. Even if you’re not fully committed to an Ayurvedic diet, the healthful practices involved in such a diet translate to a thoughtful and healthy vegetarian cookbook with recipes that are accessible, easy to follow, and, most importantly, delicious.

 

CAFE SUNFLOWER: RECIPES YOU CAN COOK AT HOME BY LIN SUN

These last few books are from some of my favorite vegetarian restaurants, starting with Cafe Sunflower in Atlanta, Georgia. Let’s just say I fed some of this food to my angry anti-vegetarian grandfather, and he loved everything (I never told him there wasn’t meat in any of it). Lin Sun’s recipes are diverse and delicious, and this book is a real treat. The recipes are easy to follow too!

 

THE GRIT COOKBOOK: WORLD-WISE, DOWN-HOME RECIPES BY JESSICA GREENE AND TED HAFER

Hands down, The Grit Cookbook is my most-used, most-loved, most-favorite vegetarian cookbook in all the land. And The Grit in Athens, Georgia, is one of my favorite places in all the world. At this point, my copy of this book is pretty much covered in vegan yeast gravy, and I should probably invest in a new one soon. Many of the recipes in this book have become staples at my family gatherings, which is good because all of these recipes make A TON of food. Like, invite a bunch of people over to help you eat this stuff or expect leftovers for days. If you’re looking for delicious vegetarian (and sometimes vegan) comfort food recipes that will make your tummy extremely happy, get this book.

 

DIRT CANDY: A COOKBOOK BY AMANDA COHEN AND RYAN DUNLAVEY

Dirt Candy in New York City is truly a unique dining experience, and fittingly, this book is a unique vegetarian cookbook experience. I mean, why has no one else thought of a graphic novel cookbook before? My favorite thing about this cookbook, though, is that Cohen’s love for vegetables really shines through. Not only does she provide delicious recipes, but she also gives a lot of background information about different styles of cooking and types of foods. The recipes are a little more complex than most of the other cookbooks on this list, but Cohen breaks everything down so that I felt confident I could do anything.

I don’t know about you, but now I’m very hungry. For even more vegetarian cookbook suggestions, check out this post on Vegan Cookbooks, or this one about Vegetarian Cookbooks for Meat Eaters.

By , January 

25 BOOKS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE

New Year’s resolutions are still in flux. Now is the time to start thinking about who you want to be in 2019 and beyond. Whether you’re looking to eat healthier, break a habit, see the world differently, or just want an amazing read, take a look at these books that will change your life.

25 Books That Will Change Your Life

HOW TO BREATHE UNDERWATER BY JULIE ORRINGER

Orringer is bound to wrap you up in the lives of her characters. This award-winning collection of short stories follows young women dealing with love, family, self-esteem, awkwardness, and everything in between. These nine mesmerizing stories are full of the hopes and failures and all the complexities that comes with youth.

EDUCATED BY TARA WESTOVER

Chances are you already heard about this current New York Times bestseller, but there was no way I could leave it out of this list. If you’re looking for a book about perseverance, Educated is it. Westover was raised in the mountains of Idaho by parents who were stockpiling canned goods in preparation for the end of the world.

Lacking in a proper education, Westover educated herself and first step foot in a classroom at 17. This memoir is a tale of education and self-motivation and guaranteed to inspire.

 

REAL AMERICAN BY JULIE LYTHCOTT-HAIMS

In her memoir, Lythcott-Harris writes about the personal battle people of color know all too well. As a biracial black women in America, Lythcott-Harris deals with racism, microaggressions, and self-esteem issues because of it. Real American is a journey of self-acceptance, and the power of the black community.

 

YOU ARE A BADASS BY JEN SINCERO

Sincero is a brash, funny, and extremely honest in You Are a Badass. In this book, she tells readers exactly what it takes to start living your awesome life.

 

CAN’T HURT ME BY DAVID GROGGINS

As a survivor of abuse, prejudice, and poverty, David Groggins is all too familiar with dark days. Still, he pushed through all the obstacles in his life and became a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Can’t Hurt Me is about Groggins’s journey out of the darkness and how readers can tap into their inner power to persevere.

 

IF YOU LEAVE ME BY CRYSTAL HANNA KIM

I cannot say enough good things about Crystal Hanna Kim’s debut novel. If You Leave Me is set through the perspective of multiple characters dealing with the effects of the Korean War. Sixteen-year-old refugee Haemi-Lee is met with a choice that affects her widowed mother, ill brother, and the love of her life that spans over decades. This novel is so tragically beautiful. You’ll want to grab your issues for this one.

 

UNFU*K YOURSELF: GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND INTO YOUR LIFE BY GARY JOHN BISHOP

According to Gary Bishop, the largest barrier we face when it comes to a greater life is ourselves.This manifesto is filled with information on how to unleash the greatness that already lies within you.

 

TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS: ADVICE ON LOVE AND LIFE FROM DEAR SUGAR BY CHERYL STRAYED

What started as an anonymous online column on The Rumpus transformed into Tiny Beautiful Things. In Tiny Beautiful Things, the Wild author offers advice on everything from love and sex and everything else life throws at you.

 

JUST MERCY: A STORY OF JUSTICE AND REDEMPTION BY BRYAN STEVENSON

As a young lawyer, Bryan Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative a practice designed to defend those who need it the most: the poor, women, and those who are wrongfully accused. The first case Stevenson covers is the case of Walter McMillian, a man who was sentenced to death for a murder he swears he did not commit. Just Mercy is a coming-of-age story as much as it is a story of the pursuit of justice.

 

Stunt Memoirs - Year of YesYEAR OF YES BY SHONDA RHIMES

For years, ScandalGrey’s Anatomy, and How to Get Away with Murder creator Shonda Rhimes had a hard time saying yes. With three hit TV shows and three kids, saying “no” was way easier. However, something her younger sister says makes her rethink her life and she starts saying “yes.” Shonda Rhimes’s hilarious and heartfelt account talks about how her life changed when she started to say yes and how you can too.

 

THE ANATOMY OF HOPE: HOW PEOPLE PREVAIL IN THE FACE OF ILLNESS BY JEROME GROOPMAN

Since Ancient Greece, hope has been an essential part of human life. Harvard medical professor Jerome Groopman explains how hope can change the course of an illness. This book offers a new way of thinking about hope and how it is critical to life.

 

THE ART OF ASKING: HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LET PEOPLE HELP BY AMANDA PALMER

Asking for help is, for many, easier said than done. This part-manifesto, part-revelation talks about how musician Amanda Palmer starting asking the people around her for help. This book will inspire readers to challenge their ideas about asking and how it can help them.

 

THIS IS GOING TO HURT: SECRET DIARIES OF A JUNIOR DOCTOR BY ADAM KAY

From 2004 to 2010, Adam Kay kept a journal documenting his experience as a junior doctor. As a result, This is Going to Hurt tells Kay’s story about his firsthand experience and all the joy and pain that came with it.

 

BORED AND BRILLIANT: HOW SPACING OUT CAN UNLOCK YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE AND CREATIVE SELF BY MANOUSH ZOMORODI

Ever wonder how you could turn your daydreams into new projects? Bored and Brilliant connects boredom with original and creative ideas. The book is written in a series of challenges for readers that helps them rethink the way people see their devices and the the digital world.

 

big magicBIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR BY ELIZABETH GILBERT

This Eat, Pray, Love author digs deep into her creative process and offers a unique perspective about inspiration. Gilbert offers advice on empathy, fear, and everything else that generates inspiration.

 

THE POWER OF NOW: A GUIDE TO SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT BY ECKHART TOLLE

In today’s fast-paced world, a lot of people have trouble staying in the present. The Power of Now helps readers focus on who they are right now and what it means to be in the present.

 

MASTERY BY ROBERT GREENE

Becoming a “master” isn’t done over night. Greene analyzes the traits of Charles Darwin, Henry Ford, Mozart, and more, and discusses what made them successful and how you can be successful too.

 

You Can't Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson book coverYOU CAN’T TOUCH MY HAIR BY PHOEBE ROBINSON

People have called Phoebe Robinson’s taste in music “white,” she’s been followed by security officers in grocery stores, and, of course, people have asked to touch her hair. In You Can’t Touch My Hair, Robinson explains her experience with everyday micro-aggressions.

 

THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY BY RYAN HOLIDAY

Holiday compiles a list of true stories about the how successful people have overcome obstacles. From Amelia Earhart to LL Cool J, Holiday talks about how these national names have made it past the seemingly impossible.

 

BROKEN OPEN: HOW DIFFICULT TIMES CAN HELP US GROW BY ELIZABETH LESSER

Sometimes we find ourselves at rock bottom and have trouble climbing back up. Broken Open discusses how we can manage grief and turn it into happiness.

 

BETTER THAN BEFORE BY GRETCHEN RUBIN

Want to quit sugar? Want to start eating healthier? Quit procrastinating? Better Than Before is here to help. This book is designed to help readers through their everyday challenges.

 

ATOMIC HABIT BY JAMES CLEAR

Are you struggling with a habit you just can’t seem to break? Habit formation expert James Clear offers practical strategies on how to break your bad habits and create good ones.

 

BORN A CRIME: STORIES FROM A SOUTH AFRICAN CHILDHOOD BY TREVOR NOAH

Comedian and Daily Show host Trevor Noah was literally born out of a crime. Noah comes from a white Swiss father and a Black Xhosa mother during a time when such a union was illegal. As a result, Noah spent the majority of his early years indoors with his mother hiding him from the government. Born a Crime is perfect for people who are searching for their place in the world.

 

A SUCKY LOVE STORY: OVERCOMING UNHAPPILY EVER AFTER BY BRITTANI LOUISE TAYLOR

Internet star Brittani Louise Taylor tried every online dating site before she finally met Milos. For Milos, it was love at first site, but something inside Taylor was telling her to run.

“This isn’t a love story,” Taylor writes. “It’s my story about survival.”

 

THE WITCH’S BOOK OF SELF-CARE BY ARIN MURPHY-HISCOCK

Take care of yourself the witchy way. The Witch’s Book of Self-Careoffers spells, medications, and mantras on ways to release stress, sadness, and strength.

By , January 1

10 CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND OUR ENVIRONMENT

In case you haven’t heard, a climate disaster is looming. The effects of climate change—like rising seas and intensifying weather patterns—are already here. Even though the worst is yet to come, there are still things that we can do to fight for our planet. One thing you can do right now is to educate yourself by reading climate change books.

10 Climate Change Books to Help You Understand Our Environment

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT SCIENCE

HOT, HUNGRY PLANET: THE FIGHT TO STOP A GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS IN THE FACE OF CLIMATE CHANGE BY LISA PALMER

By the year 2050, Earth’s population will be closing in on 10 billion people. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Journalist Lisa Palmer’s book Hot Hungry Planet digs into the possibilities of famine and food scarcity and the innovations that might save us all from hunger.

sixth-extinction-coverTHE SIXTH EXTINCTION: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY BY ELIZABETH KOLBERT

What will the future look like? The past may have a clue. Over the ages of our planet’s history, there have been five mass extinction events, one of which all but wiped out the dinosaurs. In the Anthropocene period, the next casualty may be us. In The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert takes a closer look at the past to tell us more about our future.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT HEALTH

FEVERED: WHY A HOTTER PLANET WILL HURT OUR HEALTH—AND HOW WE CAN SAVE OURSELVES BY LINDA MARSA

We’re getting more used seeing images of stranded polar bears and hearing about our dwindling bee population, but most reporting on climate change leaves out what it can do to our own health. Linda Marsa’s Fevered delves into the increasing rate of illnesses associated with global warming, like asthma, allergies, and mosquito-borne diseases, just to name a few.

THE GREAT DERANGEMENT: CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE UNTHINKABLE BY AMITAV GHOSH

The past few generations have taken advantage of the planet, polluting the oceans, ravaging the land, and filling our skies with smoke. What were we thinking? In The Great Derangement, Amitav Ghosh argues that we weren’t, we have been deliberately blind to the disasters looming in our future—until now.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT PEOPLE

PLASTIC: A TOXIC LOVE STORY BY SUSAN FREINKEL

One of the scariest things about plastic is that it’s kind of immortal. It can churn in the ocean for hundreds of years before it finally breaks down. Humans fell in love with this toxic material in 1950s, and since then, it has managed to work its way into almost everything we touch. Susan Freinkel recounts this love story in Plastic by digging deeper into the ways plastic affects our lives and the life of the planet.

STAYING ALIVE: WOMEN, ECOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENTStaying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development book cover BY VANDANA SHIVA

Originally published in 1988, activist Vandana Shiva’s seminal work, Staying Alive, explores the relationship between women and our natural world. In many places, the freedom of the women is directly related to a country’s outlook. More recent research has shown that women’s rights directly impacts sustainability. You could say that Shiva is the mother of that idea.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT POLITICS

THE MADHOUSE EFFECT: HOW CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL IS THREATENING OUR PLANET, DESTROYING OUR POLITICS, AND DRIVING US CRAZY BY MICHAEL E. MANN AND TOM TOLES

Research has shown that climate denialists do, in fact, have brains. It’s just that they haven’t been using them. We have been manipulated, and logic has been twisted to distort the truth. In The Madhouse Effect, climate scientist Michael E. Mann comes together with cartoonist Tom Toles to create a funny, sad portrait of the mad world we’re living in.

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: CAPITALISM VS. THE CLIMATE BY NAOMI KLEIN

From the author of The Shock Doctrine, this book delves into the war between capitalism and the planet. In This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein argues something that many of us already know: we have to change our destructive habits that are rooted in capitalism. It may be the only way we can save our environment before it’s too late.

 

CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT RACISM

DUMPING IN DIXIE: RACE, CLASS, AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY BY ROBERT D. BULLARD

Not everyone will experience climate change equally. The poor and working class are already disproportionately affected by the problems of climate change. In Dumping in Dixie, Robert D. Bullard, a professor and environmental justice activist, asserts that living in a healthy environment is a right for all Americans, regardless of their race, class, or social standing.

Toxic Communities: Environmental Racism, Industrial Pollution, and Residential MobilityTOXIC COMMUNITIES: ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM, INDUSTRIAL POLLUTION, AND RESIDENTIAL MOBILITY BY DORCETA E. TAYLOR

For years, poor and minority communities have found themselves becoming the dumping ground for businesses hoping to get rid of waste on the path of least resistance. Shockingly, entrenched segregation and zoning laws have paved the way to make this possible, making communities of color sick for years—literally.

By , January 

8 Books That Honor History’s Unsung Female Heroes

Cover Detail from Jefferson’s Daughters by Catherine Kerrison

To be a woman is to be a history maker. Although countless names and stories have been omitted, under-celebrated, or redacted from the official record due to the patriarchy’s dominance, the contributions that women have made to the world are impossible to overlook. From the persistence of Ida B. Wells and Ona Judge to the bravery of Harriet Muse and Harriet Jacobs and the intellectual prowess of Brittney C. Cooper and Isabel Wilkerson, history is filled with the accounts of women whose vision and rejection of convention serve as a timeless reminder of how radical living life on your own terms can be.

Take the time to celebrate the history of women whose names you don’t already know. Take the time to honor their truths.

The cover of the book Jefferson's DaughtersJefferson’s Daughters
Catherine Kerrison
Through Catherine Kerrison’s earnest exploration of the lives of Thomas Jefferson’s three daughters—Harriet Hemings and Martha and Maria Jefferson—readers are given an immersive look at the way race, class, and gender shaped colonial womanhood. Comprised of previously unseen correspondence between the Jefferson sisters, vivid illustrations, and captivating anecdotes informed by extensive archival research, Jefferson’s Daughters captures the complexity of one our nation’s most controversial figures and the family that called him father. With each page, Kerrison excavates Harriet, Martha, and Maria from the margins of history with tangible empathy and urgency. An illuminating title for any reader, Jefferson’s Daughters is a celebration of American womanhood.

 

The cover of the book TruevineTruevine
Beth Macy
Beth Macy’s Truevine unveils the often overlooked and unbelievable tale of the Muse brothers. Born on the edge of the 19th century to sharecropper parents in Virginia, George and Willie Muse were kidnapped as children by a sideshow runner who lured the boys away from their home with the promise of candy. Billed in circuses and showcases across America and overseas as “Ambassadors from Mars,” “cannibals,” and “freaks,” the Muse brothers, who were African American albinos quickly became celebrities in the eyes the public. Macy’s profoundly moving investigation of the Muse brother’s kidnapping and their mother Harriet Muse’s relentless struggle to get them back shines a spotlight on an underexplored chapter in American history. A story about family, race, and reclamation, Truevine is a stunning example of why freedom and love is worth fighting for.

 

The cover of the book Never CaughtNever Caught
Erica Armstrong Dunbar
National Book Award finalist Erica Armstrong Dunbar resurrects the captivating story of Ona Judge in the pages ofNever Caught. From beginning to end, Dunbar’s prose sheds unflinching light on America’s first president and how his unrelenting pursuit of Judge and refusal to follow the laws of his own nation led to an obsessive manhunt. Never Caught is a revealing portrayal of Washington and a stunning depiction of Judge’s resilience. A page-turner in the truest sense, Dunbar’s award-winning account dispels the myth of Washington’s morality, exposes the corrupt origins of the American patriarchy, and exalts the ingenious strength of Black womanhood.

 

The cover of the book The Warmth of Other SunsThe Warmth of Other Suns
Isabel Wilkerson
With heart and dignity, Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson uplifts the pioneering spirit and legacy of Black Americans whose desire for true freedom sparked the Great Migration. Enriched by extensive research and a marrow-deep sense of empathy, Wilkerson’s widely celebrated title pays homage to those whose search for a better life could not be stopped by the scars of segregation, the weight of racism, or even the onslaught of redlining. Far too often highlighted solely by a handful of paragraphs in the history textbooks of American schools or reduced to an anecdote during Black History Month, the full scope of the Great Migration rightfully takes center stage in Wilkerson’s necessary and inspiring masterpiece.

 

The cover of the book Beyond RespectabilityBeyond Respectability
Brittney C. Cooper
In Beyond Respectability: The Intellectual Thought of Race Women, Brittney C. Cooper writes, “In order to take… Black women seriously as intellectuals we must be willing to trust them. By trust I don’t mean always agree. I mean acknowledge, appreciate, struggle with, disagree with, sit with, and question. I mean take Black women seriously.” Throughout the pages of her book, Cooper celebrates Black women thinkers, educators, activists, and innovators whose contributions have remained relatively unsung—within and outside of the Black community—in comparison to the accomplishments of their male counterparts. Beyond Respectability is an invigorating testament to the pivotal legacies of changemakers like Pauli Murray, Anna Julia Cooper, and Mary Church Terrell and why the intellectual work of Black women cannot and will not be forgotten.

 

The cover of the book Too Heavy a LoadToo Heavy a Load
Deborah Gray White
Although originally published in the late ’90s, Deborah White Gray’s Too Heavy a Load: Black Women in Defense of Themselves, 1894-1994 remains unarguably timely. Tracing a century worth of trials and triumphs through the biographies of trailblazers from Ida B. Wells to Anita Hill, Gray maps the way solidarity and community building among Black women challenged the sexism and racism of synonymous with American culture. An informative and invigorating read, Too Heavy a Load is a refreshing chronicle of perseverance, the transformative power of sisterhood, and the limitlessness of communal vision. A quintessential title for feminists and historians alike, Gray’s well-researched and heartfelt book is one to be read with vigor and revisited often.

 

The cover of the book Incidents in the Life of a Slave GirlIncidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Harriet Jacobs
Penned during the 1850s, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girlby Harriet Jacobs is one of the earliest autobiographical accounts of American slavery. Published after her death in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent, Jacobs’ heart wrenching yet crucial narrative gives readers an eye-opening portrait of her life on a plantation in North Carolina, the inhumane brutality of her owner, and the way motherhood inspired her to seek freedom for herself and her family. One of America’s first Black feminist texts, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl is an invaluable addition to the literary canon.

 

The cover of the book BelleBelle
Paula Byrne
Paula Byrne’s fascinating biography examines the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the biracial daughter of Sir John Lindsay and an enslaved African woman. Best known as she’s depicted in a double portrait with her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, Belle was educated and raised by her great uncle William Murray who served as Britain’s Lord Chief Justice. Murray, who served as Belle’s surrogate father, was instrumental in multiple judicial rulings during the 1770s that ultimately led to the end of slavery in England. Through Byrne’s enlightening prose and thorough research, Belle and her family’s story reveals how revolutionary it is to be a Black woman during a turning point in history.

Best Sellers Update: Read a New Book Month Edition!

December is Read a New Book Month (unless you find a website that says it is September, but just go with us here).

The weather outside is… let’s say sub-optimal. Still, there is no better time to curl up with a new book. How can you make the most of Read a New Book Month?

Well, reading a new book would be a good place to start.

‘When you say ‘new,’ do you mean ‘new‘ as in recently published or ‘new‘ as in we’ve never read it before?’ you ask.

Yes.

Also, for those of you feeling adventurous, you can read something new AND different. Safe bet books, that you know you’ll love are, of course, a wonderful thing, but sometimes it is exciting to mix things up.

Regardless of what you choose to do, here are the current NYT Best Sellers (Fiction and Non-Fiction) to give you some inspiration.

NYT Best Sellers: Combined Print & E-Book Fiction

  1. FIRE AND BLOOD by George R.R. Martin (NEW)

39943621Centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones, House Targaryen—the only family of dragonlords to survive the Doom of Valyria—took up residence on Dragonstone. Fire and Blood begins their tale with the legendary Aegon the Conqueror, creator of the Iron Throne, and goes on to recount the generations of Targaryens who fought to hold that iconic seat, all the way up to the civil war that nearly tore their dynasty apart.

  1. TARGET: ALEX CROSS by James Patterson (NEW)
  2. THE RECKONING by John Grisham
  3. DARK SACRED NIGHT by Michael Connelly
  4. LOOK ALIVE TWENTY-FIVE by Janet Evanovich
  5. PAST TENSE by Lee Child
  6. EVERY BREATH by Nicholas Sparks
  7. LONG ROAD TO MERCY by David Baldacci
  8. BEAUCHAMP HALL by Danielle Steel (NEW)
  9. NINE PERFECT STRANGERS by Liane Moriarty
  10. THE OTHER MISS BRIDGERTON by Julia Quinn (NEW)
  11. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING by Delia Owens
  12. ELEVATION by Stephen King
  13. THE NEXT PERSON YOU MEET IN HEAVEN by Mitch Albom
  14. THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ by Heather Morris

 

NYT Best Sellers: Combined Print & E-Book Non-Fiction

  1. BECOMING by Michelle Obama

BecomingIn a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African-American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

  1. KILLING THE SS by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard
  2. EDUCATED by Tara Westover
  3. SHIP OF FOOLS by Tucker Carlson
  4. FACTFULNESS by Hans Rosling with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Ronnlund
  5. SAPIENS by Yuval Noah Harari
  6. FEAR by Bob Woodward
  7. CHURCHILL: WALKING WITH DESTINY by Andrew Roberts (NEW)
  8. LEADERSHIP by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  9. IN PIECES by Sally Field
  10. SHADE by Pete Souza
  11. THE FIFTH RISK by Michael Lewis
  12. THE LIBRARY BOOK by Susan Orlean
  13. BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS by Stephen Hawking
  14. BEASTIE BOYS BOOK by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz