So Much Wisdom. So Many Books.
Throughout this website, we curate and distill some of the best books out there on living well.
The 21st century is a unique time; now that access to information is almost universal, the deficit that stands in our way is our own time, attention, and discernment.
That’s one reason why projects like this are so important. We do much of the reading for you. We cut through the fluff and bring you the value.
And, we recommend the books that we feel are most valuable.
Curated and Categorized
Throughout the many chapters of the site, you may run across some of our curated book lists. And we’re adding more all the time.
Here are a few highlights for now.
In the Realm of Positive Psychology
Flourishing: Positive Psychology and the Life Well-Lived
Distinguished scholars apply scientific analyses to study the good life, expanding the scope of social and psychological research to include happiness, well-being, courage, citizenship, play, and the satisfactions of healthy work and healthy relationships. This book reads like a decent synopsis of positive psychology research, written by some of the foremost leaders in the field.
Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living
The enduring question of what it means to be human has become inextricable from the challenge of who we are to one another. Krista Tippert insists on the possibility of personal depth and common life for this century, nurtured by science and “spiritual technologies,” with civility and love as muscular public practice.
Man’s Search for Meaning
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.
A follow-up and clarifying revision to Authentic Happiness, the book that “started it all” for the field of positive psychology. Martin Seligman, former chair of the American Psychological Association shares some of the most crucial research findings in his field and presents a new holistic (PERMA) model for well-being.
The How of Happiness
Sonja Lyubomirsky does an excellent job of cutting through the fluff. This book shows, based on her and her colleague’s research, how much of our happiness is under our influence. She offers some of the most effective methods for improving one’s joy and well being. And her writing is fantastic!
Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization
When psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman first discovered Maslow’s unfinished theory of transcendence, sprinkled throughout a cache of unpublished journals, lectures, and essays, he felt a deep resonance with his own work and life. In this groundbreaking book, Kaufman picks up where Maslow left off, unraveling the mysteries of his unfinished theory, and integrating these ideas with the latest research on attachment, connection, creativity, love, purpose and other building blocks of a life well lived.
The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom
The Happiness Hypothesis is a book about ten Great Ideas. Each chapter is an attempt to savor one idea that has been discovered by several of the world’s civilizations — to question it in light of what we now know from scientific research, and to extract from it the lessons that still apply to our modern lives and illuminate the causes of human flourishing.
The Power of Meaning
The author puts an elegant journalistic lens on the power of meaning, and in many ways parallels what we are communicating here. Her model of meaning is similar, also being a “4 pillars” framework: belonging, purpose, storytelling, and transcendence.
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness’s eightieth 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?
Other Life-Sized Books
The Little Prince
Few stories are as widely read and as universally cherished by children and adults alike as The Little Prince. We love this book for how it elegantly and artistically captures some of the core virtues of life.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
When our embarrassments and fears lie, we often listen to them anyway. They thwart our gratitude, acceptance, and compassion—our goodness. They insist, “I am not worthy.” But we are worthy—of self-discovery, personal growth, and boundless love.
Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations.
To understand who you are, understand what you are and where you came from. This book is the best we’ve read for a bird’s eye view on humanity, culture, and the past, present, and future of us.
The Book of Forgiving
After reading this book, you’ll wonder how you ever thought of forgiveness the way you used to. Desmond Tutu and his daughter write a masterpiece teaching readers how to see forgiveness as a gift we give ourselves, and a key to unlocking joy amidst suffering in life.
I like this book for the diversity of methods offered within it. Nothing is simple – happiness least of all – and this books doesn’t champion any single perspective as “the” key to happiness. With a slightly mystical and conversational setting and tone, this story uses one vibrant metaphor to impart a wealth of different methods for living optimally.
The World’s Religious Texts
The vast majority of the world is religious. While this site does not condone any particular spiritual practice, it seems fitting to mention what are undoubtedly the world’s most influential texts.
- The Essential Rumi – A collection of the ecstatic, spiritual poetry of thirteenth-century Sufi Mystic Rumi.
- The Moviegoer – A modern classic (1961) with a unique, phenomenological take on Happiness as a Hindrance. A man, feeling alienated from his own life, breaks from the ‘boxes’ of his identity, traveling around the American South with an urge to remain vague and open to possibility. The loose plot is sprinkled with philosophical insight:
“What is the nature of the search?’ you ask. Really it is very simple; at least for a fellow like me. So simple that it is easily overlooked. The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life.”
- The Healthy Mind Toolkit – If we were to frame our own challenge of well-being as a competition, we’d be competing with ourselves. Alice Boyles gives the reader some of the most tried, true, and tested methods for getting out of our own way and building a mind that works FOR us.
- Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life – Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite. What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as “falling upward.”
- How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer – This book is a fascinated biography of Michel Eyquem de Montaine, a man far ahead of his time who was constantly asking ‘how do I live?’ Both a summary of his life/work, and an ironic presentation of his ideological context, the book offers companionship, wisdom, and charm from a life over 400 years ago.
- Enlightenment Now – “My new favorite book of all time.” –Bill GatesIf you think the world is coming to an end, think again: people are living longer, healthier, freer, and happier lives, and while our problems are formidable, the solutions lie in the Enlightenment ideal of using reason and science.