Crime and Punishment (1866) is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Russian literature. It follows a young man called Rodion Raskolnikov – first as he plots to kill an elderly pawnbroker, then as he commits the deed, and finally as he confronts the many consequences of his actions. Emotionally poignant as well as philosophically and psychologically complex, the novel has left a visible mark on generations of writers, thinkers, and artists ever since its publication.
Everything is F*cked (2019) is a no-holds-barred look at the state of the modern human condition and why so many feel like the world is a lot worse off than it really is. Author Mark Manson looks to pillars of human philosophy, including Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Nietzsche, to reveal how both the trappings of modern society and concepts such as hope have people focused on the wrong things in life.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) is one of the most influential American novels ever written. Set in a small town in Alabama in the 1930s, it follows the Finch family over three tumultuous years as a trial divides a community. Covering themes of love and hate, innocence and experience, and kindness and cruelty, Harper Lee’s book goes to the heart of human behavior.
These blinks will teach you the ancient wisdom that inspired the modern science of well-being. Your teachers are the greatest ancient philosophers, and each lesson reveals questions and techniques that can help you on your path to leading a good life. Philosophy for Life has been published in 19 countries and was selected as a Times book of the year 2013.
The Analects is a collection of twenty “books” that contain valuable quotes and sayings from the Chinese philosopher Confucius, as well as his disciples. These words of wisdom date back thousands of years, but they have remained remarkably relevant throughout the ages.
Macbeth (1606) is the Shakespearean tragedy of Scottish general Macbeth and his doomed attempt to seize his country’s throne. His ambitions ignited by a prophecy spoken to him by three witches, Macbeth’s path to power begins with anxiety and reticence and ends with callousness and cruelty. His story is a timeless exploration of guilt, paranoia, madness, prophecy, and the evils of ambition.
On War (1832) is widely considered to be a landmark book on the subject of war. In its serious and thoughtful consideration of why and how states engage in warfare, it continues to be an influential piece of writing centuries later.
Courage is Calling (2021) is both a meditation on bravery and a guide to courageousness. From how to dispel your fears to the benefits of taking small steps first, it gives concrete advice for building courage, and lays out, in writing rich with anecdotes, the simple ways that each of us can become a little bit braver.
A Brief History of Thought (1996) chronicles the big moments in the history of Western philosophy in a lucid and accessible way – from the Stoicism of classical Greece right through to twentieth-century postmodernism. Not simply a description of abstract ideals, it shows how we can apply the wisdom of the world’s best thinkers to live happier and more meaningful lives.
How to Live a Good Life (2020), edited by Massimo Pigliucci, Skye Cleary, and Daniel Kaufman, is an introduction to 15 philosophies for living our lives. Ranging from ancient ideologies, through the major religions, to contemporary schools of thought, 15 leading scholars enlighten us with the philosophies that guide their lives.
The Ethics of Ambiguity (1947) is one of the foundational texts of existentialist philosophy. It's both a succinct summary of existentialist thought and a thorough interrogation of its ethical ramifications in the real world. By reflecting on what it means to be human, this book is a call to recognize and act upon one fundamental truth of our existence: that we are free.
That One Should Disdain Hardships (2020) is a collection of lectures delivered in imperial Rome in the first century CE by the Stoic Gaius Musonius Rufus. Heralded as the “Roman Socrates,” Musonius’s philosophy is anything but academic. Designed to help listeners lead the best possible lives, his lectures hone in on practical, everyday questions. The result? A doctrine that you really can live by.
The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1647) is a timeless self-help classic. Comprising 300 short but brilliant maxims, it sheds light on how to live your life, achieve success, and win respect. It has remained consistently relevant throughout its nearly 400-year publication history, inspiring the likes of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche.
Verity (2018) is the breakout thriller leaving mystery fans breathless. Taut and tense, with a final plot twist delivered like a sucker-punch, the novel leaves readers questioning everything in the end — especially the truth.
Ethics: A Very Short Introduction (2001) does exactly what it says on the tin: it’s a clear and accessible introduction to the branch of philosophy that’s concerned with how we ought to treat each other. By exploring key challenges and theories within ethics, Simon Blackburn cuts through philosophical jargon so we can learn to think clearly about how we ought to behave.
The Virtue of Selfishness (1964) is an argument in favor of self-interest and capitalist economics. At the time of its publication, it was a bold and original assertion of a new moral creed. This daring work is sure to challenge many deeply held ideals.
Human Hacking (2021) is a guide to the art of ethical social engineering. Using the same tools of psychology and influence deployed by security hackers, it demonstrates how to boost social interactions in daily life. It covers a range of tips on how to adjust your natural communication tendencies to steer encounters to your advantage, with practical tools on how to influence others using empathy and compassion.
What We Owe the Future (2022) makes the case for longtermism – the idea that people today have an obligation to create a good future for successive generations. Using philosophical reasoning, historical anecdotes, and social science research, it argues that the current moment could decide whether future people will live happy, flourishing lives or extraordinarily miserable ones. By carefully considering our actions with respect to issues like AI safety, biotechnology, and value lock-in, we increase the chances that future people will thrive – just as many of us do, now, thanks to people from the past.
A Force For Good (2015) reveals how you can swap your negative thoughts for positive actions. By taking a closer look at the Dalai Lama’s wisdom and vision, these blinks explain how individuals acting positively can together form a global force of good, driving change in our world through mutual compassion.
Discipline & Punish (1975) is a celebrated work of renowned French philosopher and sociologist Michel Foucault. Foucault studies the history of forms of power, punishment, discipline and surveillance from the French Ancien Régime through to more modern times, seeing it as a reflection of a changing society.
Radical Honesty (first published 1993, this edition 2004) is a guide to help you tell the truth. We all lie, all the time, and it’s only through extreme honesty that we can escape from the moralism that surrounds us and truly be ourselves.
The Life You Can Save (2019) is a philosophical exploration of the moral implications of poverty. This provocative treatise asks us to consider if we’re truly doing our part to end human suffering.
The iconic political text On Liberty delves into questions of how to balance authority, society and individuality. Combining abstract philosophical reasoning and concrete examples, On Liberty provides a thoughtful and vivid defense of personal liberty and self-determination that has made a huge impact on our liberal societies and political thought today.
What is justice? How can we act in a just and morally correct way? Drawing on various examples from everyday life, Michael J. Sandel illustrates how differently the idea of justice can be interpreted, for example, by philosophers like Aristotle and Kant. Over the course of Justice (2009), he urges us to critically question our own convictions and societal conventions.
Morality (2020) is a detailed deconstruction of our current social climate and a lucid account of how we got here. Part intellectual history and part manifesto of moral truths, this thoughtful work uncovers the roots of the rifts in contemporary society and points out a path toward a more just future.
The blinks to What Money Can´t Buy (2013) explain how market-driven thinking – like the introduction of incentives and making everything available for a price – has snuck into almost every sphere of our lives. This means we are often suddenly confronted by serious moral concerns when market morality manifests itself in an area where it doesn’t belong.