10 Books Every Stoic Should Read

Books for beginner and intermediate Stoics

Welcome to The Stoa Letter, the newsletter on Stoic theory and practice.

Every week we share two emails to help you build resilience and virtue with ancient philosophy.

Today’s letter is all about books for beginning and intermediate Stoics.

🏛️ Reading Stoic Theory

If you don’t know where to start or are thinking about your next read, check these out.

📚️ The Classic Works

Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations

The Gregory Hays translation of Meditations is brilliant. Robin Waterfield’s translation includes many educational annotations. I’m partial to the Dover Thrift version as it’s the first one I ever read.

Epictetus’s Handbook and Discourses

Robin Hard is the author of the classic Penguin translation of Epictetus’s Handbook and Discourses. If you’re just starting out, read The Handbook first. In fact, Michael Tremblay argues that The Handbook is the best ancient work on Stoicism to start with. Scott Aikin and William O Stephen’s new translation of that work with commentary is solid too.

Seneca’s Letters to Lucilius

Robin Campbell’s Letters from a Stoic is excellent. There’s also a free translation available on Wikisource that isn’t too bad.


Ward Farnsworth’s The Practicing Stoic collects several of the quotes of the Stoics and organizes them by theme. It’s a great resource for leafing through the ancient Stoic’s greatest hits without losing the context of the greater philosophy.

📚️ The People Behind The Works

The lives of the ancient Stoics provide models of who we should strive to be. That’s why it’s important to know more about the people behind the philosophy. Several excellent books have been written about them.

Donald Robertson’s How To Think Like A Roman Emperor is the key book for understanding the life and philosophy of the man.

David Fideler’s work Breakfast With Seneca explains Seneca from a practical and philosophically sophisticated standpoint. James Romm’s Dying Every Day captures Seneca’s contradictions. On one hand, Seneca was a striver – seeking to win the game of Roman politics, but on the other, he was a thoughtful Stoic. Romm does his best to make sense of these two aspects of him.

Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman wrote the best biography I know of Cato the Younger, Rome’s Last Citizena model for all Stoics.

Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman’s Lives of the Stoics is a fast-paced work covering the lives of many ancient philosophers. It includes many less popular names, including Aristo of Chios, Musonius Rufus, and Porcia Cato.

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🎯 Action

Take a moment to reflect on whether your life includes the right balance of study and practice. Some lives require more practice, others more study. Take one concrete action to move in the right direction.

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

Yogi Berra

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