Reading List

This is a list of books and articles that I've found useful and interesting in terms of personal philosophy and becoming a better person.

William Irvine: A Guide to the Good Life

This is a modern, well paced introduction to Stoicism. I think Irvine overthinks things sometimes, but it's as good a starting place as any.

Epictetus: Discourses incl The Enchiridion

This is a link to the George Long translation, which is the one I like the most. It can be a challenging read at times, as much for the concepts as phrasing. It's a very concise and hardline approach to Stoicism, and I love it.

Seneca: Letters from a Stoic

Letters from a Stoic is interesting both for the concepts and the voyeristic look at the private conversations of one of the most influential Stoic thinkers. Because these are private letters, at times they meander along and get side tracked, but there is some pure gold here.

Marcus Aurelius: Meditations - A New Translation

For a long time I had trouble getting into Meditations, despite people rating it highly. It was the first ancient Stoic text I tried, and I put it down fairly quickly and moved to the much more enjoyable Enchiridion. Then I tried the Gregory Hays translation, and everything changed.

Marcus, obviously heavily influenced by Epictetus, is an interesting study in the workings of a practicing Stoic: someone writing to himself, to keep himself on track. At times he (with Hays' assistance) manages to sum up some of Epictetus' teachings in an even more poetic way.

Much more so than with Epictetus, you can see Marcus failing, castigating himself, battling his fears. Even if you're not interested in Stoicism, it's a valuable read.

Russ Roberts How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life

I'm about 20% into Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments. It's an intriguing book, but it's not an easy read. This distillation by Russ Roberts is very well done, and immensely readable.

Smith was a fan of the Stoics, particularly Epictetus, so a lot of his ideas align nicely. He builds upon the Stoic base in an interesting way: whereas the Stoics are more concerned about mastering our desires, Smith looks as ways that they are harnessed, for our own benefit and that of society.

I still plan on reading the original text, but I'm grateful that Russ took the time to do so much of the heavy lifting here.

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