Dive into the literary world of Jordan Peterson, Psychologist.

Jordan Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic, and professor of psychology, widely known for his influence on modern discussions of psychology, philosophy, and society. He gained prominence through his now-famous YouTube channel, which features his university lectures, interviews, and a variety of personal and professional advice sessions. Peterson's bestselling book, "12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos," synthesizes his personal, clinical, and scholarly insights into practical advice, drawing on a range of influences from ancient texts to modern literature.

The purpose of life is finding the largest burden that you can bear and bearing it.❞ — Jordan Peterson

Peterson is an avid reader and often emphasizes the importance of literature and writing in understanding human psychology and societal structures. His lectures and writings are steeped in references to classic literature, religious texts, and philosophical works, demonstrating his deep engagement with various sources of wisdom throughout his career. This breadth of reading underpins his controversial but often insightful commentary on life, responsibility, and personal development.

Jordan Peterson's Favorite Books

Last Updated: June 2024

The Brothers Karamazov

This profound novel delves into the lives of the Karamazov family, focusing on their internal moral struggles, profound philosophical dialogues, and the search for faith and meaning amidst personal tragedy.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values

Pirsig's philosophical novel combines a cross-country motorcycle trip with a deep exploration of the nature of quality, the conflict between classical and romantic modes of thought, and the pursuit of a meaningful life.
Also recommended by:
Tupac Shakur 

Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None

Nietzsche's philosophical novel follows the prophet Zarathustra as he shares his teachings on the Übermensch, the eternal recurrence, and the death of God, challenging readers to rethink traditional values.

A History of Religious Ideas, Vol. 3: From Muhammad to the Age of Reforms

Eliade traces the development of major religious traditions from the rise of Islam to the modern era, highlighting significant transformations and reforms.

War and Peace

Leo Tolstoy's epic novel set against the backdrop of Napoleon's invasion of Russia explores the impact of the Napoleonic era on Tsarist society through the interconnected lives of four aristocratic families, blending a meticulous historical study with deeper philosophical issues.
Also recommended by:
Ernest Hemingway  Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Play, Dreams And Imitation In Childhood

Piaget's seminal work delves into the cognitive development of children, analyzing how play, dreams, and imitation contribute to their understanding of the world and intellectual growth.

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation

Heaney's award-winning translation brings new life and accessibility to the ancient epic poem, telling the heroic tale of Beowulf's battles against the monster Grendel and other foes.

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Notes from Underground

In this seminal existentialist novel, Dostoevsky delves into the thoughts and musings of a bitter, isolated man living in St. Petersburg, whose ramblings address his criticisms of society and insights into the human condition.
Also recommended by:
Pope Francis  Keanu Reeves 

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Stone Angel

Laurence's novel tells the story of Hagar Shipley, a fiercely independent elderly woman reflecting on her life and struggles as she faces her final days, highlighting themes of pride, resilience, and redemption.

Grapes of Wrath

Steinbeck's classic novel chronicles the struggles of the Joad family as they journey from the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma to California in search of a better life during the Great Depression.

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think

Rosling encourages a more fact-based world view by challenging common misconceptions and biases about global development, revealing data that shows how much the world has improved in terms of health, wealth, and education.
Also recommended by:
Bill Gates 

Farewell to Arms

Hemingway's classic novel follows the passionate love affair between an American ambulance driver and a British nurse during World War I, set against the backdrop of the Italian front.

The Hobbit

This beloved fantasy novel follows the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who embarks on an epic quest with a group of dwarves to reclaim their homeland from the dragon Smaug, discovering courage and friendship along the way.

Tolstoy

Troyat's comprehensive biography of Leo Tolstoy delves into the life, works, and complex personality of the Russian author, exploring his literary achievements and philosophical evolution.

The First Circle

Solzhenitsyn's novel depicts the lives of scientists and engineers imprisoned in a Soviet labor camp, exploring themes of freedom, integrity, and the human spirit under oppression.

The Horse's Mouth

Cary's novel follows the life of Gulley Jimson, an eccentric and rebellious artist, as he pursues his creative vision with relentless determination and often disastrous consequences.

Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses

Dalrymple critiques contemporary Western culture, arguing that the erosion of traditional values and intellectual standards has led to social and moral decline.

Man's Search for Meaning

Frankl's memoir and psychological exploration discusses his experiences in Nazi concentration camps and introduces logotherapy, a therapeutic approach centered on finding purpose in life.
Also recommended by:
Lex Fridman 

The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living since the Civil War

This comprehensive analysis examines the unparalleled economic growth in America from 1870 to 1970 and explores why this rapid growth was a unique episode unlikely to be repeated, assessing the challenges facing the U.S. economy today.
Also recommended by:
Ben Shapiro  Bill Gates  Lex Fridman 

Crime and Punishment

Fyodor Dostoevsky's intense psychological novel follows the mental anguish and moral dilemmas of Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished ex-student in St. Petersburg who formulates and executes a plan to kill an unscrupulous pawnbroker.
Also recommended by:
Tom Hanks  Woody Harrelson 

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The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II

Chang provides a harrowing account of the atrocities committed by Japanese forces in Nanking in 1937, shedding light on this often-overlooked episode of World War II history.

Hamlet

Shakespeare's tragedy follows Prince Hamlet as he seeks revenge against his uncle, who has murdered his father, taken the throne, and married his mother, exploring themes of madness, revenge, and existential angst.

The Gay Science: or The Joyful Wisdom

Nietzsche's philosophical work celebrates the power of creativity and joyful wisdom, famously declaring the death of God and exploring themes of nihilism and the will to power.

Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass

Dalrymple's collection of essays examines the attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate poverty and social decay, drawing on his experiences as a psychiatrist working in impoverished communities.

Man's Search For Meaning

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl's memoir has transcended its own genre by describing his experiences in Nazi death camps, all the while explaining his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positive about, and then immersively imagining that outcome.
Also recommended by:
Sam Altman 

The World's Religions

Smith offers an accessible and insightful overview of the major world religions, exploring their beliefs, practices, and historical development while highlighting their common spiritual themes.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Thompson's gonzo journalism classic recounts a drug-fueled journey to Las Vegas, blending surreal narrative and social critique to explore the dark side of the American Dream.
Also recommended by:
Johnny Depp 

Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason

Foucault explores the history of how Western society has perceived and treated mental illness, examining the shifting boundaries between sanity and madness.

The Road to Character

This book explores how some of the world's greatest thinkers and leaders have built strong inner character through the conquest of their own vices and the struggle against adversity, urging modern readers to focus more on developing virtues rather than personal success.
Also recommended by:
Bill Gates 

Brave New World

Set in a dystopian future where individuals are systematically controlled and conditioned for roles in a totalitarian society, Huxley’s novel critiques the dangers of sacrificing individuality for technological and governmental control.

The Ticket That Exploded

Burroughs' experimental novel continues the narrative of "The Nova Trilogy," using cut-up techniques to explore themes of control, addiction, and the fragmentation of reality.

Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy

Eliade provides a comprehensive study of shamanism, examining its practices, rituals, and the role of shamans in various cultures as intermediaries between the human and spiritual worlds.

Modern Man in Search of a Soul

Jung's seminal work delves into the spiritual and psychological challenges of modern life, addressing topics such as dream analysis, the role of spirituality, and the integration of the unconscious.

Animal Farm

Orwell's allegorical novella critiques totalitarianism through the story of a group of farm animals who overthrow their human owner, only to see their new government become equally oppressive.
Also recommended by:
Lex Fridman 

Awakenings

Sacks recounts his experiences treating patients who survived encephalitis lethargica but remained in a frozen, non-responsive state, detailing their miraculous awakenings and subsequent struggles with reality.

The Great Code: The Bible and Literature

Frye analyzes the Bible's literary and symbolic significance, exploring its profound influence on Western literature and culture through a detailed examination of its narratives and themes.

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

Matt Ridley argues that economic prosperity is a product of social evolution, demonstrating how human progress depends on the exchange of ideas and goods.
Also recommended by:
Naval Ravikant 

Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World

Russell traces the evolution of the figure of the devil in Western culture, examining its role and significance from the medieval period to modern times.

On Becoming a Person: A Therapist's View of Psychotherapy

Rogers presents his groundbreaking approach to psychotherapy, emphasizing empathy, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard as central to the therapeutic process.

The Moral Judgment of the Child

Piaget's groundbreaking study examines the development of moral reasoning in children, exploring how they evolve from a rigid adherence to rules to a more nuanced understanding of morality.

How to Spend $75 Billion to Make the World a Better Place

Lomborg presents research-based proposals on how to effectively allocate resources to address global challenges such as poverty, health, and education, aiming to maximize the impact of philanthropic efforts.

The Master and Margarita

Mikhail Bulgakov's fantastical, satirical novel features the Devil visiting Soviet Russia, intertwining the lives of Margarita, her beloved Master who is an oppressed writer, and historical figures, ultimately exploring themes of good and evil, love, and redemption.
Also recommended by:
David Bowie  Johnny Depp 

An Anthropologist On Mars: Seven Paradoxical Tales

Sacks presents seven case studies of patients with unique neurological conditions, offering insights into the complexities of the human brain and the resilience of the human spirit.

Myth and Reality

Eliade delves into the nature and function of myths across different cultures, exploring how they shape human perception of reality and provide meaning to life.

Interpretation of Dreams: The Complete and Definitive Text

Freud's seminal work introduces his theory of the unconscious and the significance of dreams, laying the foundation for psychoanalysis and exploring the hidden meanings behind dream imagery.

A Way of Being

Rogers reflects on his experiences and developments in humanistic psychology, discussing the principles of client-centered therapy and the importance of authenticity and empathy in therapeutic relationships.

Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future

Norberg presents a compelling case for optimism, highlighting advancements in health, wealth, safety, and freedom to argue that the world is steadily improving.

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress

Pinker argues that the ideals of the Enlightenment have led to progress in every aspect of human development and advocates for reason, science, and humanism as the foundational principles to further improve the human condition.
Also recommended by:
Bill Gates 

The Gulag Archipelago

Solzhenitsyn's monumental work exposes the brutal realities of the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system, drawing on personal experiences and historical documents to chronicle the suffering and resilience of prisoners.

The Madness of Crowds: Gender, Race and Identity

Murray critically examines contemporary social justice movements, discussing the complexities and controversies surrounding gender, race, and identity politics.

Symbols of Transformation

Jung delves into the symbolic and mythological underpinnings of human psychology, exploring how transformative symbols influence personal and collective unconscious processes.

Psychology and Religion: West and East

This collection of Jung's essays examines the intersection of psychology and religion, comparing Western religious traditions with Eastern spiritual practices and their psychological implications.

Sometimes a Great Notion

Kesey's novel tells the story of the Stamper family, who run a logging business in Oregon, highlighting themes of individuality, family loyalty, and resistance against collective pressures.

The New Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes in a Complex World

Goldberg examines the role of the frontal lobes in human cognition and behavior, discussing their importance in decision-making, creativity, and adapting to complex environments.

Zorba the Greek

This novel follows the life-changing friendship between a young Greek intellectual and the exuberant, larger-than-life Alexis Zorba, who teaches him to embrace the joys and sorrows of life.

Words With Power: Being a Second Study of The Bible and Literature

Frye explores the profound influence of the Bible on Western literature, examining its archetypal structures and symbolic power across various literary traditions.

Genius: The Natural History of Creativity

Eysenck explores the nature of creativity and genius, examining the psychological and biological factors that contribute to extraordinary creative achievements.

The Rise of Statistical Thinking

Porter explores the historical development of statistical methods and their impact on scientific inquiry, public policy, and modern thought.

Systemantics: How Systems Work and Especially How They Fail

Gall humorously and insightfully examines the nature of complex systems, exploring their inherent flaws and the often unpredictable ways they operate and fail.

An Outline of Psycho-analysis

Freud provides a comprehensive overview of his psychoanalytic theories, including the structure of the mind, the role of the unconscious, and the mechanisms of defense.

The Big Sleep

Chandler's classic hardboiled detective novel introduces private investigator Philip Marlowe, who navigates a labyrinth of crime and corruption while solving a complex case in Los Angeles.
Also recommended by:
Adam Savage 

The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Jung explores the concept of archetypes and the collective unconscious, proposing that universal, primordial images and themes shape human experiences and cultural expressions.

The Will to Power

Nietzsche's posthumously published work compiles his thoughts on power dynamics, philosophy, and morality, emphasizing the drive for dominance and mastery inherent in human nature.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee's beloved novel, set in the racially charged South of the 1930s, follows young Scout Finch as her father, lawyer Atticus Finch, defends a black man unjustly accused of rape, teaching profound lessons about morality and justice.
Also recommended by:
Tupac Shakur  Oprah Winfrey 

Demons

Dostoevsky's novel delves into the political and social turmoil of 19th-century Russia, examining the destructive impact of radical ideologies on individuals and communities.
Also recommended by:
Ben Shapiro 

The Neuropsychology of Anxiety: An Enquiry into the Functions of the Septo-Hippocampal System

Gray investigates the neural mechanisms underlying anxiety, focusing on the role of the septo-hippocampal system and its interaction with other brain structures.

The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception

Gibson's influential work introduces the theory of ecological perception, arguing that visual perception is a direct process shaped by the environment and our interactions with it.

The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror

Lewis explores the historical and cultural roots of Islamic extremism, providing context for understanding contemporary conflicts and the motivations behind jihadist movements.

The Greatest Works of John Milton

This collection compiles Milton's most influential works, including "Paradise Lost," "Paradise Regained," and "Samson Agonistes," showcasing his mastery of epic poetry and profound theological and philosophical insights.

The Great Escape: Health, Wealth, and the Origins of Inequality

Nobel laureate Angus Deaton explores the historical and current disparities in health and wealth among nations, discussing how some countries have made dramatic progress, while others remain mired in poverty, and the complex factors that drive these inequalities.
Also recommended by:
Bill Gates 

The Old Man And The Sea

This novella tells the story of Santiago, an aging fisherman who engages in an epic struggle to catch a giant marlin, symbolizing themes of perseverance, pride, and the human condition.
Also recommended by:
Jimmy Buffett  Lex Fridman 

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Hemingway's novel follows Robert Jordan, an American dynamiter fighting in the Spanish Civil War, as he grapples with love, duty, and the brutal realities of war.

Painted Bird

Kosinski's harrowing novel follows the journey of a young boy abandoned during World War II, as he encounters brutality and inhumanity in the Eastern European countryside, exploring themes of survival and the loss of innocence.

Don't Burn This Book: Thinking for Yourself in an Age of Unreason

Rubin encourages readers to embrace free thought and open dialogue, challenging prevailing cultural narratives and promoting intellectual independence.

Myths Dreams and Mysteries

Eliade delves into the symbolic and psychological significance of myths, dreams, and religious experiences, examining their roles in shaping human consciousness and cultural identity.

The Denial of Death

Becker's Pulitzer Prize-winning work examines the role of death in human psychology, arguing that much of human behavior is driven by an unconscious fear of mortality and the desire to achieve symbolic immortality.

Earth in Human Hands: Shaping Our Planet's Future

Grinspoon explores humanity's role as a planetary force, examining our impact on Earth and advocating for a conscious and responsible approach to shaping the planet's future.

The Long Goodbye

Chandler's classic noir novel follows private detective Philip Marlowe as he unravels a complex web of deception, betrayal, and murder in 1950s Los Angeles.
Also recommended by:
Adam Savage 

I, Claudius

Graves' historical novel presents the autobiography of Roman Emperor Claudius, offering a vivid and dramatic portrayal of the intrigues, scandals, and power struggles of the Roman imperial family.

Point Counter Point

Huxley's satirical novel weaves together the lives of multiple characters, reflecting on the intellectual, political, and social conflicts of the interwar period.

Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief

Peterson examines the psychological foundations of belief systems, integrating insights from mythology, religion, and neuroscience to explore how humans construct meaning.

The Charterhouse of Parma

This novel tells the adventures of the young Italian nobleman Fabrizio del Dongo as he navigates the intrigues of the Napoleonic Wars and the Restoration period, seeking love and fortune, and ultimately retreating to the monastery of Parma.
Also recommended by:
Ernest Hemingway 

The Antichrist

Nietzsche's provocative work critiques Christianity and its moral framework, advocating for a reevaluation of values and the embrace of a more life-affirming philosophy.

The Adventures of Pinocchio (Mint Editions (The Children's Library))

Collodi's timeless children's novel follows the adventures of Pinocchio, a wooden puppet who longs to become a real boy, learning valuable life lessons along the way.

Aion

Jung delves into the concept of the self and the process of individuation, examining archetypal symbols and the collective unconscious, with a particular focus on the Christian era and its psychological impact.

The EMOTIONAL BRAIN: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life

Ledoux explores the neural mechanisms behind emotions, revealing how the brain processes and regulates emotional experiences and their impact on behavior.

Beyond Good and Evil: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche critiques traditional morality and explores the concepts of power, individualism, and the nature of truth in this seminal work of philosophy.
Also recommended by:
Lex Fridman 

History of Religious Ideas, Volume 1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries

Eliade traces the development of religious ideas from prehistoric times to the ancient Greek mysteries, examining the evolution of spiritual beliefs and practices across cultures.

The Maltese Falcon

Hammett's classic noir novel follows private detective Sam Spade as he becomes entangled in a dangerous quest for a priceless statuette, navigating a web of deceit and betrayal.

1984

George Orwell's dystopian novel depicts a totalitarian regime under the omnipresent surveillance of Big Brother, where individuality and free thought are crushed, warning of the dire consequences of political authoritarianism.
Also recommended by:
Winston Churchill  David Bowie  Tupac Shakur 

East of Eden

John Steinbeck's sweeping saga of the Trask and Hamilton families in the Salinas Valley of California, exploring themes of sin and redemption with biblical parallels, particularly the rivalry of brothers, mirroring the story of Cain and Abel.
Also recommended by:
Oprah Winfrey 

Fratricides

Kazantzakis' novel portrays the brutal realities of the Greek Civil War, depicting the internal and external conflicts faced by individuals torn between ideological loyalties and familial bonds.
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