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7 Best Philosophy Books to Read for Beginners

Posted on July 20 2021

7 Best Philosophy Books to Read for Beginners

Creating a list of the best philosophy books to read for beginners can be tricky. Mostly because many people are immediately intimidated by the very concept of philosophy. For many, it’s up there with rocket science.

The indefinite theories and abstract subject matter can leave people unsure of where or how to even start learning. Yet it’s an essential part of being human to question our existence, our purpose, and the meaning of the world around us.
For centuries, the study of philosophy has explored and attempted to answer these existentialist questions in ways that give us understanding and a better worldview. Beginning to learn this ancient discipline is, of course, intimidating. That’s why it’s best to start at the beginning.

Whether you took an entry level philosophy class in school or just enjoy watching The Good Place, there’s a philosophy book out there for you. From classic philosophy texts to religious devotionals to ancient eastern books, get started on your journey of wisdom and knowledge with this helpful list of the 7 best philosophy books to read for beginners.

Our Top Recommendations for The Best Philosophy Books For Beginners

#1 - What More Do You Want? By Albert Low

What More Do You Want book

We've all had moments in our lives when we've thought, "something is missing, there must be more to life than this." This great philosophy read for both beginners and novices seeks to answer these eternal questions through Zen practice.

The art of Zen acknowledges that this "something" lies not in externals, but rather in seeking to transcend desire and attachment. The journey toward that transcendence begins with questioning, and questions will be part of the path until awakening is attained.

This fascinating book by renowned Zen master Albert Low, addresses some of the questions his students have posed about the practice of Zen: Why do we practice? What is awakening?

Filled with helpful guidance on enhancing meditation practice and buddhist ideology, this is a great book to start understanding the fundamentals of Eastern philosophy.

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#2 - Think Differently: Open Your Mind. Philosophy for Modern Life: 20 Thought-Provoking Lessons By Adam Ferner

Think Differently Book

Philosophy is about our lives and how we live them. Using a unique, visual approach to explore philosophical concepts, this book shows how philosophy is one of our best tools for responding to the challenges of the modern world.
From philosophical 'people skills' to ethical and moral questions about our lifestyle choices, philosophy teaches us to ask the right questions, even if it doesn't necessarily hold all the answers. Utilizing theories from history's greatest philosophers plus some of today's most pioneering thinkers, this book will guide you to think deeply and differently.

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#3 - The Pocket Chögyam Trungpa

Pocket Book

Anyone at any knowledge level can benefit from ancient wisdom. This book features 108 short teachings from Chogyam Trungpa, one of the most influential Buddhist teachers of our time.

This timeless guidance addresses a range of topics, including fear and fearlessness, accepting our imperfections, developing confidence, helping others, appreciating our basic goodness, and seeing everyday life as a spiritual path.

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#4 - The Infinite Tortoise: The Curious Thought Experiments of History's Great Thinkers By Joel Levy

Infinite Tortoise Book

This clear, concise, and fascinating guide to famous philosophical thought experiments explores how they’ve helped shape our understanding of the world. From Plato’s Cave to Descartes' Demon, great thinkers have used thought experiments and paradoxes to try and work out complex ideas in the simplest way possible.

Among the most famous thought experiments is Zeno’s Achilles and the Tortoise: if Achilles is faster than the tortoise, why will Achilles never catch up with the tortoise when it starts ahead of him?

Starting in Ancient Greece, author Joel Levy guides us through the mind-bending world of thought experiments and their role in revealing the complexity of morality, exploring the limitations and the infinite possibilities of the human mind.

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#5 - Why We Think the Things We Think: Philosophy in a Nutshell By Alain Stephen

Why We Think book

The perfect read for philosophy beginners, this helpful book breaks down some of the world’s most central questions of philosophy. For example, have you ever been asked if the glass is half full or half empty? Do you wonder what true happiness is or how to attain it? Or maybe nothing really matters if everything is just an illusion or a dream?

These philosophical inquiries have engaged, troubled and exasperated some of the greatest minds throughout the history of human civilization, provoking argument and debate in an attempt to broaden the horizons of human thought.

Author Alain Stephen attempts to demystify some of these key questions by tracing their origins in the writings of prominent thinkers through the ages, from the colonnades of ancient Greece to the intellectual salons of twentieth-century France, and show how these ideas and concepts developed over time.

Why We Think the Things We Think provides plenty of food for thought for both the amateur philosopher and enlightened thinker to digest.

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#6 - Philosophy Hacks: Shortcuts to 100 ideas

Philosophy Hacks Book

The perfect introduction to philosophy, this book marks a great new way to learn about the most important philosophical ideas and concepts that makes them easy to recall even months after reading the book.

From Kant's categorical imperative to Derrida's deconstruction, this book explains 100 philosophical ideas using ingenious hacks to make even the most complex philosophical theories easy to understand.

By breaking down each idea into three stages; the overview/introduction, the shortcut theory, and the one-liner hack to help you remember, you’ll be amazed at how simple it can be to understand and remember the most groundbreaking concepts in 3,000 years of philosophical thought.

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#7 - Heads Up Philosophy

Heads Up Philosophy Book

The best book for both philosophy beginners and curious teenagers, Heads Up Philosophy is a part of an exciting new series for young adults which explains and explores life’s big ideas like: What is philosophy? Who am I? What is the meaning of life?

It's the issues and theories that are most intriguing and relevant to curious teen minds (or anyone with a basic curiosity) questions like: what is knowledge, identity, human nature, right and wrong, faith, freedom, and justice? Combining lively text with cool, graphic illustrations, this book is designed to provoke, entertain, and stimulate young minds.

Buy Heads Up Philosophy >

Enjoy More Essential Philosophy Reads

At Marissa’s Books, we pride ourselves on curating an extensive collection of philosophy books for every type of reader and skill level. From classic philosophy books and inspiring christian devotionals to books on ancient mysticism and eastern philosophy, discover our range of the best philosophical books for adults and teens online today.

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