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Best Philosophy Books for Beginners

books on philosophy for beginners

Want to know about books on philosophy for beginners? Well you have landed on the right article.

Enter you Have you ever randomly thought to yourself - what if you weren’t here?

What if you were a butterfly dreaming to be human? You still might be a butterfly and reading this article in your dreams.

 Well, this is what the great Daoist philosopher Chuang Tzu once thought.

Philosophy, or as it translates to “love for wisdom”, intends to answer fundamental questions like 'what is a person?

What is the nature of reality?' 'What is even the truth?' But why should one read philosophy, to begin with?

Philosophy contributes significantly to the educational enterprise by requiring intellectual activity. Since the topics philosophy aims to solve are abstract, it usually necessitates more reflection than action.

Also, because logic and reason are the foundations of philosophy, reading literature on the subject can help you become a better thinker and improve your reasoning ability.

Here is a collection of the best philosophy books for beginners:

Books On Philosophy For Beginners

1. The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained

The Philosophy Book delves into the history and concepts of philosophy, demystifying a subject that can be intimidating.

 Are René Descartes', Mary Wollstonecraft's, John Locke's, and Thomas Hobbes' theories still valid today?

The Philosophy Book delves into the works and thoughts of over a hundred of history's most influential thinkers, bringing you on a trip from Ancient Greece to the present day.

Examine feminism, rationalism, idealism, existentialism, and other major philosophical movements.

The Philosophy Book uses innovative pictures that burst off the page alongside imaginative typography to break down complex concepts from Socrates to Confucius and Julia Kristeva.

It cuts through the fog of academics and unravels complex theories to demonstrate how our social, political, and ethical beliefs are formed.

The information in The Philosophy Book is organized by periods, innovative thinkers, methods, and philosophical approaches. And it is one of the best philosophy books to read.


  • Author: DK (Dorling Kindersley)
  • Publisher and year published: Dorling Kindersley, 2015nt
  • Length: 352 page sent
  • Copies Sold: 7,000,000
  • Buy it on Amazon, Flipkartent
  • Price: 850-2000
  • Audiobook: here
  • Goodreads rating: 4.3/5
  • Audible rating: 3.9/5
  • Youtube link: here

2. A Very Short Introduction series

Through readings from Plato, Hume, Descartes, Hegel, Darwin, and Buddhist literature, Philosophy:

A Very Short Introduction examines essential ideas in ethics, knowledge, and the self.

We are all philosophers to some extent. Almost everyone spends their lives according to some set of values.

 The majority of us like a broad image of the world.

Philosophy – which is primarily thought of as an academic subject – simply implies being reflective. It's difficult to avoid philosophy.

Is philosophy even worthwhile? What is the relationship between the many branches of philosophy? How should we live? What exactly is there? What evidence do we have?

These are a few of the many questions that one would come across while reading this book.

  • Author: Edward Craig
  • Publisher and year published: OUP Oxford, 2002
  • Length: 132 pages
  • Copies Sold: 7,000,000
  • Buy it on Amazon, Flipkart
  • Price: 850-2000
  • Audiobook: here
  • Goodreads rating: 4.0/5
  • Audible rating: 3.9/5
  • Youtube link: here

3. Sophie’s world

Sophie Amundsen is fourteen years old and lives in Norway.

She enrols in an odd philosophy correspondence course.

Every day, a letter with a few questions arrives in the inbox, followed by a package containing written pages outlining the ideas of a philosopher who dealt with the issues posed by the inquiries.

Sophie discovers later that the philosopher who is instructing her is Alberto Knox, despite her initial ignorance.

His dog Hermes delivers her packages. Alberto first tells Sophie that philosophy is highly important in life and that we are not truly alive unless we question and analyze our basic existence.

Along with Sophie, the readers get to learn many important philosophical values as well. 

  • Author: Jostein Gaarder
  • Publisher and year published: Hachette UK, 2010
  • Length: 448 pages
  • Copies Sold: 40,000,000+
  • Awards: Deutscher Jugendliteraturpries, 1994
  • Buy it on Amazon, Flipkart
  • Price: 275-2000
  • Audiobook: here
  • Goodreads rating: 4/5
  • Audible rating: 4.7/5
  • Youtube link: here

4. Philosophy 101

Too often, textbooks reduce important philosophical theories, principles, and figures to dull language that even Plato would scorn. 

Instead of dry technicalities and tiresome philosophical methods, 

Philosophy 101 delivers you an engaging study in philosophy that explores the intriguing history of human thought and inquisition. 

Philosophy 101 is jam-packed with hundreds of amusing philosophical tidbits, images, and thought problems that you won't find anywhere else, from 

Aristotle and Heidegger to free will and metaphysics.

So, whether you're trying to figure out what makes existentialism click or what makes Voltaire tick, Philosophy 101 provides all the answers—even the ones you didn't know you needed.

  • Author: Paul Kleinman
  • Publisher and year published: Simon and Schuster, 2013
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Copies sold: 7,000,000
  • Buy it on Amazon, Flipkart
  • Price: 450-650
  • Goodreads rating: 3.7/5
  • Audible rating: 4.6/5
  • Youtube link: here

5. The problems of philosophy

The Problems of Philosophy develops an epistemological framework and a debate on truth.

Bertrand Russell employs an analytical method to distinguish between our perceptions of reality.

 In the beginning, he uses Cartesian radical doubt to focus on our understanding of the physical universe.

He claims to have specific views about the table in his room and wants to know if his beliefs are true and, if so, what kind of object the table is. 

He reasoned that the table is made up of matter and that there is a way for him to learn about it. When you look at the table, you'll notice something: an oval spot of brown.

He refers to this as a "sense-datum." The book talks about philosophy in a very interesting way and deserves a read.

  • Author: Bertrand Russel
  • Publisher and year published: Oxford University Press, 1997
  • Length: 167 pages
  • Copies sold: 100,000+
  • Buy it on Amazon, Flipkart
  • Price: 30-2000
  • Audiobook: here
  • Goodreads rating: 3.9/5
  • Audible rating: 4.3/5
  • Youtube link: here

6. How Philosophy works: the concepts visually explained

This book is the ultimate introduction to the history of philosophy.

By demystifying the fundamental ideas of the world's greatest philosophers and studying all of the most important disciplines of philosophical thinking,
the book has been written with a unique visual style.

To clarify essential concepts regarding the nature of reality, How Philosophy Works uses vivid infographics and jargon-free prose. 

The book offers the ideas and theories of significant philosophical traditions and philosophers - from Plato and Socrates to Nietzsche and Wittgenstein to Kant. 

In a fresh, easy-to-understand approach this book covers everything - ethics, epistemology and phenomenology.

  • Author: DK
  • Publisher and year published: DK publishing, 2019

  • Length: 256 pages
  • Copies sold: 250,000+
  • Buy it on Amazon, Flipkart
  • Price: 600-2000
  • Goodreads rating: 3.8/5Price: 600-2000
  • Audible rating: 4.7/5
  • Youtube link: here

7. Meditations on first philosophy by Descartes

René Descartes' philosophical essay was first published in Latin in the year 1641.

Méditations Métaphysiques was published in 1647 as a French translation (supervised by Descartes) by the Duke of Luynes.

The book is divided into six meditations in which Descartes rejects any belief in things that are not certain and then attempts to establish what may be known with certainty.

He composed the meditations as though he had meditated for six days, referring to the previous one as "yesterday" in each one.

(Descartes started working on the Meditations in 1639.) It is widely read today and is one of the most significant philosophical writings ever written.

  • Author: Rene Descartes
  • Publisher and year published: Cambridge University Press, 1996
  • Length: 120 pages
  • Copies sold: 1,000,000+
  • Buy it on Amazon, Flipkart
  • Price: 500-2000
  • Goodreads rating: 3.7/5
  • Audible rating: 4.6/5
  • Audiobook: here
  • Youtube link: here

8. Think - a compelling introduction to philosophy

Think is a solid framework for investigating the most basic ideas in philosophy.

It comprehends how famous philosophers have approached the questions that have forced themselves most powerfully on human consciousness.

The author of the best-selling Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy - Simon Blackburn - starts by establishing a compelling case for philosophy's relevance,

and then goes on to show how major historical thinkers like Plato, Hume, Kant, Descartes, and others handled its central subjects. 

Blackburn explores the essence of human reflection and how we think or can think about knowledge, fate, ethics, and other topics in a lively and accessible manner.

God, reason, and truth are all aspects of one's identity. Each chapter delves into a key topic and provides the reader with a self-contained tour of the philosophers' research.

  • Author: Simon Blackburn
  • Publisher and year published: OUP Oxford, 1999
  • Length: 320 pages
  • Copies sold: 30,000+ (hardcover)
  • Buy it on Amazon, Flipkart
  • Price: 200-2000
  • Goodreads rating: 3.8/5
  • Audible rating: 4.4/5
  • Audiobook: here
  • Youtube link: here

9. A little history of philosophy

Questions regarding the nature of reality and how we should live are at the heart of philosophy.

These were Socrates' concerns - as he spent his days in the old Athenian marketplace - asking difficult questions and alarming the people he encountered by demonstrating how little they truly understood.

Nigel Warburton introduces the main philosophers in Western philosophy and analyses their most compelling ideas about the world and how to live in it in this fascinating book.

Susannah Willcox would have benefited from a wider range of ideas outside of the dead-white-male Western philosophical canon.

  • Author: Nigel Warburton
  • Publisher and year published: Yale University Press, 2011
  • Length: 260 pages
  • Copies sold: 120,000+
  • Buy it on Amazon, Flipkart
  • Price: 650-7000
  • Goodreads rating: 4.1/5
  • Audible rating: 4.7/5
  • Audiobook: here
  • Youtube link: here

10. Morality: An Introduction to Ethics

Bernard Williams's outstanding essay on morality tackles the challenges of writing moral philosophy and provides a lively alternative to more systematic interpretations that appear to leave all the vital concerns off the page.

Williams explores the essence of 'goodness' in connection to responsibilities and choice, roles, norms, and human nature, explaining, analyzing,

And distinguishing several significant perspectives from the completely amoral to ideas of subjective or relative morality, examining their consistency.

The final chapters explore what morality is all about, going beyond happiness to other human goals and aspirations.

 This is a reprint of a moral philosophy classic with a fresh foreword by the author.

  • Author: Bernard Williams
  • Publisher and year published: Cambridge University Press, 2012
  • Length: 97 pages
  • Copies sold: approximately 630,000
  • Buy it on Amazon,
  • Price: 23,000
  • Goodreads rating: 3.6/5
  • Audible rating: 4.5/5

11. Beyond good and evil

Beyond Good and Evil provides a thorough examination of Nietzsche's mature philosophy.

There are 296 aphorisms in the book, ranging in length from a few sentences to a few pages.

The aphorisms are divided into nine chapters, each of which is bookended by a preface and a poem.

While each aphorism can be read independently, there is a linear flow between aphorisms inside chapters and from one chapter to the next.

Nonetheless, each aphorism expresses a unique point of view, and even the chapter summaries leave a lot out.

Their dogmatism is contrasted by Nietzsche with the "free spirit" who is not bound by any one point of view.

He expects that future philosophers would be distinguished by an experimental approach, eager to test any hypothesis and follow any argument to its conclusion.

  • Author: Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Publisher and year published: Cambridge University Press, 2002
  • Length: 193 pages
  • Copies sold: 15,000+
  • Buy it on Amazon, Flipkart
  • Price: 250-500
  • Goodreads rating: 4/5
  • Audible rating: 4.8/5
  • Audiobook: here
  • Youtube link: here

12. At the Existentialist Café

Sarah Bakewell's book At the Existentialist Café:

Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails was published in 2016 and discusses the philosophy and history of the twentieth-century movement existentialism.

Bakewell's non-fiction work is divided into fourteen chapters that recount the lives of important existentialists.

She mostly writes in the third person, but she does occasionally move to the first person to express her personal existentialism experience.

It's a collaboration between Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Albert Camus, Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, and a half-dozen other European writers and philosophers.

They epitomized the existentialist and phenomenology movements in twentieth-century philosophy.

  • Author: Sarah Bakewell
  • Publisher and year published: Other Press, 2016
  • Length: 439 pages
  • Copies sold: approximately 70,000
  • Buy it on Amazon, Flipkart
  • Price: 250-500
  • Goodreads rating: 4.2/5
  • Audible rating: 4.7/5
  • Audiobook: here
  • Youtube link: here

13. Plato: Five dialogues

Enter your text Based on what we know about Socrates, we can conclude that he had a lasting influence on a small group of his followers who were closely involved with his life and teachings.

Socrates' name has been respected for generations, and he is considered to be one of the greatest instructors of all time.

Five dialogues are particularly crucial to the trial and death of Socrates.

They are the Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Critocracy, and the Phaedo.

An attempt is made in the Euthyphro to answer the question - "What is piety?" It is especially relevant to Socrates' trial because he had been accused of impiety and was about to be prosecuted for a crime that no one seemed to comprehend.

  • Author: Plato
  • Publisher and year published: Unforgotten Classics, 2015
  • Length: 168 pages
  • Copies sold: approximately 880,000
  • Buy it on Amazon, Flipkart
  • Price: 350-1200
  • Goodreads rating: 4.2/5
  • Audible rating: 4.8/5
  • Audiobook: here
  • Youtube link: here

14. Paradoxes by Mark Sainsbury

A paradox is an unsatisfactory result produced from apparently acceptable premises by seemingly acceptable logic.

Many paradoxes present major philosophical issues and are linked to philosophical crises and revolutionary developments. 

The third edition of this fascinating book has been expanded and reworked to include Zeno's paradoxical argument that the runner can never overtake the tortoise,

A new chapter on moral paradoxes, belief paradoxes, and - most difficult of all - truth paradoxes. 

The discussion is straightforward, but it tackles complex and challenging issues. It is supported by helpful questions that assist the reader to interact with the points.

The end product is not only a solution to paradoxes but also a great introduction to philosophical thinking.

  • Author: Richard Mark Sainsbury
  • Publisher and year published: Cambridge University Press, 2009
  • Length: 182 pages
  • Copies sold: 550,000+
  • Buy it on Amazon, Flipkart
  • Price: 1500-30000
  • Goodreads rating: 3.7/5
  • Youtube link: here

15. Mortal Questions

Mortal Questions by Thomas Nagel delves into some fundamental questions about the meaning, nature, and value of human existence.

 Personal identity, consciousness, freedom, and value are discussed about mortality, sexual behaviour, social inequality, war, and political power.

  • Author: Thomas Nagel
  • Publisher and year published: Cambridge University press, 2012
  • Length: 168 pages
  • Copies sold: 277,000+
  • Buy it on Amazon
  • Price: 400-4500
  • Goodreads rating: 4.1/5
  • Youtube link: here


The philosophical study improves a person's problem-solving abilities. It aids in the examination of concepts, definitions, arguments, and issues.

 It also improves our ability to organize thoughts and issues, deal with value questions, and extract the most important information from enormous amounts of data.

With the overall goal of challenging our assumptions about our lives and delving into the nuances of why we believe the way we do and how we choose to act.

From Plato to Nietzsche, the above-mentioned list of books on philosophy is the ones that a beginner should look at.

I hope you liked our article on books on philosophy for beginners, if you have any comments or suggestions do share them in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Who are the easiest philosophers to read?

Ans. Plato, Bertrand Russell, and Epictetus are considered some of the easiest philosophers in terms of grasping what they have said. This is partly because Plato can be considered an experience that would last a lifetime. The well-written History of philosophy by Russell is often considered a go-to for beginner philosophers or philosophy enthusiasts.

Q. Best philosophy books 21 Century?

Ans. Free will by Sam Harris, Against Empathy by Paul Bloom, and Nudities by Giorgio Agamben can easily be considered the top three 21st-century philosophy books.


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Currently working as an Editor in Chief with Ankuraggarwal.in, he is managing all the ins and outs of the content management process and editorial operations. Having an experience of 8 years in the publishing/ e-solution industry, he manages a small freelancing team of fellow editors and has worked with several domains including academics, healthcare, lifestyle and technical writings. He is a stickler for accuracy and loves to read noir-fiction and binge-watch anthologies.

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