The best 23 Existentialism books

Get ready to dive deep into the existentialist philosophy with this carefully curated book list. From the works of Søren Kierkegaard to Jean-Paul Sartre, we explore the meaning of existence, freedom, and choice. Prepare to challenge your beliefs and uncover the complexities of the human condition.
Whether you're a seasoned philosophy enthusiast or simply curious about existentialism, this collection offers a thought-provoking journey into the realm of life's biggest questions.

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Existentialism Books: Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard

Fear and Trembling

Soren Kierkegaard

What's Fear and Trembling about?

Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard delves into the story of Abraham and Isaac from the Bible, exploring the concept of faith and the ethical implications of religious belief. Through philosophical reflections and thought-provoking analysis, Kierkegaard challenges conventional ideas and invites readers to ponder the complexities of faith and morality.

Who should read Fear and Trembling?

  • Those seeking a deeper understanding of faith and the nature of religious belief
  • Philosophy enthusiasts interested in exploring existential dilemmas and moral paradoxes
  • Readers looking for thought-provoking insights into the complexities of human existence and the pursuit of truth

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Existentialism Books: Essays in Existentialism by Jean-Paul Sartre

Essays in Existentialism

Jean-Paul Sartre

What's Essays in Existentialism about?

is a collection of thought-provoking essays that delve into the philosophical concept of existentialism. Sartre explores the idea that individuals have the freedom to make choices and create their own meaning in life, despite the inherent absurdity and lack of inherent meaning in the world. Through a blend of personal reflection and rigorous analysis, Sartre challenges readers to confront their own existence and take responsibility for their actions. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in delving into the complexities of human existence.

Who should read Essays in Existentialism?

  • Philosophy enthusiasts who want to explore existentialist ideas
  • People who are curious about the meaning of life and their place in the world
  • Individuals who enjoy thought-provoking and introspective reading

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What's No Exit and Three Other Plays about?

No Exit and Three Other Plays is a collection of thought-provoking plays by Jean-Paul Sartre. In the titular play, three characters find themselves in a mysterious room in hell, forced to confront their own actions and the consequences of their choices. The other plays in the collection, The Flies, Dirty Hands, and The Respectful Prostitute, also delve into existential themes and moral dilemmas, making this book a compelling exploration of human nature.

Who should read No Exit and Three Other Plays?

  • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking and philosophical plays
  • Those interested in existentialism and the human condition
  • People looking for deep and introspective literature

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Existentialism Books: Existential Psychotherapy by Irvin D. Yalom

What's Existential Psychotherapy about?

Existential Psychotherapy (1980) by Irvin D. Yalom delves into the philosophical and psychological concepts of existentialism and how they can be applied to therapy. Yalom explores themes such as freedom, isolation, and meaninglessness, offering insights and techniques for therapists to help their clients confront their existential anxieties and live more authentically.

Who should read Existential Psychotherapy?

  • Individuals seeking a deeper understanding of existential psychology
  • Psychotherapists looking to integrate existential concepts into their practice
  • People interested in exploring the fundamental questions of human existence

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Existentialism Books: The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, Richard Zenith

The Book of Disquiet

Fernando Pessoa, Richard Zenith

What's The Book of Disquiet about?

The Book of Disquiet (1982) by Fernando Pessoa, translated by Richard Zenith, is a thought-provoking collection of fragmentary writings that delves into the inner musings and reflections of a solitary bookkeeper named Bernardo Soares. Throughout the book, Soares grapples with themes of existentialism, identity, and the complexities of the human experience, offering profound insights and challenging the reader to contemplate the nature of life itself.

Who should read The Book of Disquiet?

  • Readers who enjoy reflective and introspective literature
  • Those curious about the inner thoughts and musings of a sensitive and observant individual
  • People who appreciate philosophical insights and existential ponderings

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Existentialism Books: Basic Writings of Nietzsche by Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Arnold Kaufmann

Basic Writings of Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Arnold Kaufmann

What's Basic Writings of Nietzsche about?

Basic Writings of Nietzsche is a comprehensive collection of Friedrich Nietzsche's most important works. Translated and edited by Walter Kaufmann, this book includes key texts such as 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra' and 'Beyond Good and Evil', providing a deep insight into Nietzsche's philosophical ideas and challenging perspectives on morality, religion, and the nature of existence.

Who should read Basic Writings of Nietzsche?

  • Philosophy enthusiasts seeking to explore Nietzsche's influential writings
  • Students or scholars studying existentialism, nihilism, or the history of philosophy
  • Readers interested in thought-provoking and challenging perspectives on life, morality, and society

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Existentialism Books: No Longer Human by Juliet Winters Carpenter, Osamu Dazai

No Longer Human

Juliet Winters Carpenter, Osamu Dazai

What's No Longer Human about?

No Longer Human is a novel by Osamu Dazai that delves into the dark and introspective journey of a young man named Yozo. Through a series of confessional notes, Yozo reveals his struggles with alienation, self-destructive behavior, and the inability to connect with others. The book offers a raw and unflinching exploration of the human condition and the search for identity.

Who should read No Longer Human?

  • Readers who are interested in exploring the complexities of the human condition
  • Those who enjoy introspective and thought-provoking narratives
  • Individuals looking for insight into mental health and existential struggles

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Existentialism Books: Demian by Hermann Hesse

Demian

Hermann Hesse

What's Demian about?

Demian is a thought-provoking novel by Hermann Hesse that delves into the complexities of human existence and the search for self-discovery. Through the story of a young boy named Emil Sinclair, the book explores themes of duality, spirituality, and the struggle to break free from societal norms. It challenges readers to question their own beliefs and perceptions of the world.

Who should read Demian?

  • Explorers of the human psyche and spirituality
  • Readers interested in coming-of-age stories and self-discovery
  • Individuals seeking deeper understanding of their own inner struggles and conflicts

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Existentialism Books: The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus, Justin O'Brien

The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

Albert Camus, Justin O'Brien

What's The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays about?

The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus explores the concept of the absurd and the human search for meaning in a seemingly indifferent universe. Through philosophical essays and reflections, Camus challenges traditional beliefs and offers a unique perspective on the nature of existence and the pursuit of happiness.

Who should read The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays?

  • Readers seeking a deeper understanding of the human condition and the absurdity of life
  • Those interested in existentialist philosophy and questioning traditional beliefs
  • Individuals who enjoy thought-provoking essays that challenge their perspectives

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Existentialism Books: Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Fight Club

Chuck Palahniuk

What's Fight Club about?

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk delves into the disillusionment and frustration of the modern man. Through the story of an unnamed protagonist and his alter ego, Tyler Durden, the book explores themes of consumerism, identity, and the desire to break free from societal constraints. It challenges the norms of society and encourages readers to question their own beliefs and values.

Who should read Fight Club?

  • Readers who enjoy dark and subversive narratives
  • Individuals interested in exploring themes of consumerism and societal alienation
  • Those who appreciate unconventional storytelling and non-linear narratives

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Existentialism Books: The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy, Leo Nikolayevich…

The Death of Ivan Ilych

Leo Tolstoy, Leo Nikolayevich…

What's The Death of Ivan Ilych about?

The Death of Ivan Ilych is a powerful novella by Leo Tolstoy that delves into the themes of mortality and the meaning of life. It tells the story of a high-ranking judge who is forced to confront his own impending death and reflects on the emptiness of his life. Through Ivan Ilych's journey, Tolstoy prompts readers to contemplate the choices they make and the way they live their lives.

Who should read The Death of Ivan Ilych?

  • Readers who are curious about exploring the meaning of life and death
  • Individuals interested in philosophical and existential literature
  • Those who enjoy thought-provoking narratives that challenge conventional beliefs

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Existentialism Books: The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

The Denial of Death

Ernest Becker

What's The Denial of Death about?

The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker delves into the complex relationship between human behavior and our fear of mortality. Drawing from psychology, philosophy, and anthropology, Becker explores how our unconscious denial of death influences our actions, beliefs, and the pursuit of immortality through various means. A thought-provoking and profound examination of the human condition.

Who should read The Denial of Death?

  • Existentialists and those questioning the meaning of life
  • Psychology enthusiasts looking for a deep exploration of human behavior
  • Individuals interested in understanding the role of death in shaping human actions and beliefs

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Existentialism Books: The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir

The Mandarins

Simone de Beauvoir

What's The Mandarins about?

The Mandarins is a novel written by Simone de Beauvoir that delves into the lives of a group of intellectuals in post-World War II Paris. It explores their personal and political struggles, as well as their attempts to reconcile their ideals with the harsh realities of the world around them. With rich character development and thought-provoking themes, this book offers a compelling portrait of a pivotal moment in history.

Who should read The Mandarins?

  • Readers who are interested in post-war existentialist philosophy
  • Individuals curious about the lives and relationships of prominent intellectual figures
  • People who enjoy nuanced and character-driven narratives

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Existentialism Books: The Portable Nietzsche by Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Kaufmann

The Portable Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche, Walter Kaufmann

What's The Portable Nietzsche about?

The Portable Nietzsche by Friedrich Nietzsche, translated and edited by Walter Kaufmann, compiles a comprehensive selection of the philosopher's works. From famous aphorisms to deep reflections on morality, religion, and human nature, this book offers a portable and accessible insight into Nietzsche's thought-provoking ideas.

Who should read The Portable Nietzsche?

  • Readers who are interested in exploring the philosophical ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche
  • People who want to gain a deeper understanding of existentialism and the human condition
  • Individuals who enjoy thought-provoking and challenging literature

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Existentialism Books: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison

What's Invisible Man about?

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison tells the story of a nameless African American man who navigates through a world where he feels unseen and unheard. The novel explores themes of identity, race, and societal expectations, offering a powerful commentary on the realities of life for black Americans in the early 20th century.

Who should read Invisible Man?

  • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking and introspective narratives
  • Individuals interested in exploring themes of identity, race, and social invisibility
  • Those who appreciate rich and symbolic storytelling

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Existentialism Books: The Fault in Our Stars by Nicola Winstanley, John Green

The Fault in Our Stars

Nicola Winstanley, John Green

What's The Fault in Our Stars about?

The Fault in Our Stars is actually written by John Green and tells the story of two teenagers, Hazel and Gus, who meet at a cancer support group. As they bond over their favorite books and share their fears and dreams, they embark on a journey that challenges their perspectives on life and love. It is a poignant and beautifully written novel that explores the complexities of living with illness and the power of human connection.

Who should read The Fault in Our Stars?

  • Readers who enjoy emotionally impactful and thought-provoking stories
  • Those who appreciate authentic and relatable characters
  • Anyone interested in exploring themes of love, loss, and the meaning of life

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Existentialism Books: Irrational Man by William Barrett

Irrational Man

William Barrett

What's Irrational Man about?

Irrational Man by William Barrett delves into the philosophy of existentialism and its impact on modern thought. Through examination of key existential thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Sartre, Barrett explores the concept of individual freedom, the search for meaning in a seemingly meaningless world, and the idea of "authenticity" in human existence.

Who should read Irrational Man?

  • Individuals seeking a deeper understanding of existentialist philosophy
  • Those questioning the meaning of life and their place in the world
  • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking exploration of human existence

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Existentialism Books: Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

Waiting for Godot

Samuel Beckett

What's Waiting for Godot about?

'Waiting for Godot' by Samuel Beckett is a timeless classic that delves into the themes of existentialism, the meaning of life, and the concept of waiting. Through the absurd and thought-provoking conversations between its main characters, Estragon and Vladimir, the play challenges our perceptions and invites us to reflect on the human condition.

Who should read Waiting for Godot?

  • Curious individuals who enjoy exploring the meaning of life and existence
  • Open-minded readers who appreciate thought-provoking and unconventional narratives
  • Those interested in the theater of the absurd and unconventional forms of storytelling

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Existentialism Books: A Happy Death by Richard Howard, Albert Camus

A Happy Death

Richard Howard, Albert Camus

What's A Happy Death about?

A Happy Death is a thought-provoking novel by Albert Camus that delves into themes of existentialism, the pursuit of happiness, and the acceptance of mortality. It tells the story of a young man named Patrice who seeks to live life on his own terms, ultimately leading him to confront the meaning of existence and the choices we make. This introspective and philosophical book challenges readers to examine their own beliefs and values.

Who should read A Happy Death?

  • Individuals who are curious about the human experience and the nature of happiness
  • Readers interested in existentialist philosophy and its exploration through fiction
  • Those who appreciate thought-provoking literature that challenges conventional beliefs

What's Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? about?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick is a thought-provoking science fiction novel that delves into the nature of humanity and empathy. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the story follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter tasked with 'retiring' rogue androids. As Deckard questions his own morality and reality, the book raises profound questions about what it means to be human.

Who should read Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep??

  • Science fiction enthusiasts who enjoy thought-provoking stories
  • Readers interested in exploring the theme of artificial intelligence and its impact on society
  • People who appreciate complex characters and philosophical explorations within a narrative

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Existentialism Books: When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin D. Yalom

When Nietzsche Wept

Irvin D. Yalom

What's When Nietzsche Wept about?

When Nietzsche Wept is a novel by Irvin D. Yalom that delves into the existential and psychological struggles of the famed philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Set in the 19th century, the book revolves around a fictional encounter between Nietzsche and a brilliant young doctor named Josef Breuer, as they explore the nature of love, suffering, and the human condition. It offers a thought-provoking exploration of philosophy and therapy, intertwining fiction with real historical figures and ideas.

Who should read When Nietzsche Wept?

  • Individuals who are interested in the intersection of psychology and philosophy
  • Readers who enjoy exploring the inner struggles and depth of human emotions
  • Those who appreciate historical fiction with well-researched characters and settings

What's The Woman in the Dunes about?

The Woman in the Dunes is a thought-provoking novel by Kobo Abe that delves into themes of identity, isolation, and the struggle for freedom. Set in a remote village, it tells the story of a man who becomes trapped in a sand pit with a mysterious woman, forced to shovel sand to prevent being buried alive. As the days pass, the novel explores the complex relationship between the two characters and the existential questions it raises.

Who should read The Woman in the Dunes?

  • Readers who enjoy thought-provoking and philosophical literature
  • Those interested in exploring the human condition and existential themes
  • Individuals looking for a unique and atmospheric story set in a remote and haunting environment

What's Basic Writings of Existentialism about?

Basic Writings of Existentialism is an essential collection of philosophical texts that explore the fundamental concepts of existentialism. Edited by Gordon Marino, this book features writings from renowned thinkers such as Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and others, offering insights into the human condition, freedom, individuality, and the search for meaning in a seemingly indifferent world.

Who should read Basic Writings of Existentialism?

  • Individuals curious about the nature of existence and human freedom
  • Readers who enjoy exploring philosophical ideas and questioning traditional beliefs
  • Those seeking to understand the complexities of the human condition and the search for meaning

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