12 Books for Wisdom: Helping You Answer Life’s Big Questions

Discover the best books for wisdom in our guide; from meditation and mindfulness to religious techniques, learn how to grow your insight and calm your mind.

Searching for answers on how to live your best life can be hard to figure out where to start. From religious options to a Stoic perspective, everyone else has it figured out. Spoiler alert: they don’t. Finding your path is key when it comes to developing a meaningful life. Our list of books for wisdom will help you nail down what matters to you and can help you find a perspective that’s meaningful and provides purpose for your life.

Whether you’re going through an existential crisis or are simply looking to live purposefully, check out our books below to help guide you toward gaining the wisdom you need to live well. If you’re interested in this topic, check out our round-up of the best books to read for mental health.

Best Books For Wisdom

1. Bible Stories for Grown-Ups by Josh Scott

Best Books for Wisdom: Bible Stories for Grown-Ups
In Bible Stories for Grown-Ups, Josh Scott looks at parables and everyday moral practices

Whether you grew up in the Christian religion or you’re looking for help understanding the Old and New Testament, Bible Stories for Grown-Ups takes the stories you may have heard as a child and helps you apply these lessons to daily life. In addition to providing insight on how to use Biblical principles daily, Scott also does an excellent job of assisting readers to get past their cynicism by offering context and real-life explanations for parts of the Bible that can be tough to believe.

“The Bible wasn’t written in a vacuum; it was written in a context that contained many voices telling many stories that were trying to make sense of the world and their place in it.”

Josh Scott, Bible Stories for Grown-Ups
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11/26/2023 10:56 am GMT

2. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four Agreements
The Four Agreements allows readers to implement ancient wisdom into daily life

The Four Agreements spell out clear rules for living your best life. Ruiz tells readers that living according to four ideals: being impeccable with your word, not taking things personally, not making assumptions, and doing your best, can help lead you to peace and happiness.

Ruiz’s teachings are based on the ancient wisdom of the Toltec people, an indigenous tribe with a bustling society in Mexico long before the Aztec people. While these rules have been passed down in most cultures in some form over time, hearing them spelled out by Ruiz can provide new encouragement to apply them to life today

“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”

Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
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11/27/2023 02:26 pm GMT

3. Confucius from the Heart by Yu Dan

Confucius from the Heart
Yu Dan perfectly breaks down ancient teachings in Confucius from the Heart

Confucius from the Heart is one of China’s bestselling books. Life can seem so stressful that it’s hard to bear sometimes, and the wisdom of Confucius can serve as a reminder that happiness and harmony aren’t just lofty goals. They’re ideals that can be achieved by applying some basic principles of living.

Reading Confucius’s works can be overwhelming for some, and Dan breaks down the sage’s teachings in a way anyone can understand. While the book does not follow the standard format of a self-help book, you’ll find yourself hanging on Dan’s words as each chapter builds upon the last, helping you create a solid foundation for personal growth.

“We are working hard to create a harmonious society, but what is true harmony? It is more than just harmony within a small housing estate, or mere cordial relations between people. It must also include the entire natural world, harmoniously and happily living and growing together on this earth. People should feel reverence for the natural world and a willingness to follow its rhythms.”

Yu Dan, Confucius from the Heart
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11/26/2023 10:56 am GMT

4. God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life by Timothy Keller

God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life
God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life is a daily devotional reading for Christians

God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life provides readers with a full year of Christian daily devotionals to help them get to know God and put his teachings into practice. Each daily lesson comes from the Book of Proverbs and can help readers discover what living a morally fulfilling life means. Keller is known for his ability to guide religious skeptics toward faith, making this book the perfect way to grow in your spirituality, even if you’re agnostic or questioning your beliefs.

“Most of us are either temperamentally direct, bold, and persistent or gentle, calm, and deferential—but never both. Yet the wise learn to be both. They follow the one who always showed boldness without harshness, humility without uncertainty, who spoke truth but always bathed in love.”

Timothy J. Keller, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life
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11/26/2023 11:00 am GMT

5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist
Coelho’s masterpiece The Alchemist can provide a renewed sense of inspiration

You’ve likely heard of the new-age hit The Secret, and if you’re a fan of how the Law of Attraction can work in your life, you’ll also love The Alchemist. The international bestseller follows Santiago, a young shepherd, as he makes his way through a journey to the Egyptian pyramids. Throughout his trials and tribulations, Santiago realizes he has the answers he seeks, including where to find treasure. If you’re struggling with negative life events and wondering how to get back on track, The Alchemist is perfect for aligning your thinking and helping you return to a positive attitude.

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
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11/27/2023 02:29 pm GMT

6. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Sapiens helps us understand where we came from and how we can change where we’re going

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind doesn’t just help you understand how humans came to be. It also helps to explain how the changes in the human race over time influence human existence and behavior today. The book remained on The New York Times bestseller list for 96 consecutive weeks and was recommended on best book lists by both Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Sapiens doesn’t just provide a detailed history of the changes that have shaped humanity. It also helps explain how we’re all connected and can make the world smaller.

“You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.”

Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
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11/26/2023 11:00 am GMT

7. The Wisdom of Proverbs by Derek Kidner

The Wisdom of Proverbs
Applying Biblical principles to life is made more accessible with The Wisdom of Proverbs

Struggling to understand how to apply the concepts in the Bible to your life? Wanting to get a deeper understanding of Biblical principles but finding your mind wandering each time you open the paper-thin pages of your Bible? The Wisdom of Proverbs was written with you in mind. Throughout this excellent book, Kidner doesn’t just break down the messages found in Proverbs. He also explains the modern criticism that Biblical passages receive and discusses the validity of such complaints. This deep dive into the Old Testament is perfect for those who want to deepen their faith or explore whether they have faith at all. 

“In other words, in the Wisdom books the tone of voice and even the speakers have changed. The blunt ‘Thou shalt’ or ‘shall not’ of the Law, and the urgent ‘Thus saith the Lord” of the Prophets, are joined now by the cooler comments of the teacher and the often anguished questions of the learner.”

Derek Kidner, The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes
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11/26/2023 11:00 am GMT

8. The Little Book of Stoicism by Jonas Salzgeber

The Little Book of Stoicism
In The Little Book of Stoicism, Jonas Salzgeber explains that Stoicism is about finding peace

There’s no way around it: life is chaotic, stressful, and can get the best of you if you don’t have a solid foundation to fall back on when things get tough. The Little Book of Stoicism helps readers develop ideas about living well. Salzgeber breaks down standard criticisms of stoicism, explaining how philosophy has nothing to do with being emotionless and everything to do with accepting hard truths while striving to live your best life. As you read or listen to the audiobook, you’ll be taken through the history of Stoicism and how you can immediately apply Stoic principles to improve your life.

“No tree becomes deep-rooted and sturdy unless strong winds blow against it. This shaking and pulling is what makes the tree tighten its grip and plant its roots more securely; the fragile trees are those grown in a sunny valley.”

Jonas Salzgeber, The Little Book of Stoicism
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11/26/2023 11:00 am GMT

9. A Manual for Living by Epictetus

A Manual for Living
In A Manual for Living, readers learn how the teachings of Epictetus have stood the test of time

A Manual for Living is another great resource for those interested in living a Stoic life. The instructions offered by the ancient philosopher Epictetus are as applicable today as they were thousands of years ago. The author’s commitment to brevity can make this text ideal for completing a short study each morning, dedicating a few moments to creating an intention and mindset that will serve you throughout the day ahead. While some philosophers have brushed aside the teachings of Epictetus as not applying them to daily life, more and more people are beginning to appreciate the author’s simple techniques for living a life filled with serenity and purpose.

“It is the act of an ill-instructed man to blame others for his own bad condition.”

Epictetus, A Manual for Living
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10. Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Fooled by Randomness
Fooled by Randomness helps explain how luck, skill, and change intertwine in our lives

Fooled by Randomness takes readers through the relationship between luck and skill and how we perceive the two. Readers appreciate Taleb’s conversational style as he tackles tough topics and introduces real-world figures to illustrate his points. Discussing figures ranging from Greek adventurer Odysseus to Yogi Berra, the author explains how randomness and skill interact to create outcomes that the human mind works to justify. Taleb also discusses the phenomenon of being in the right place at the right time and how it can be impossible to replicate advantages gained by chance.

“Heroes are heroes because they are heroic in behavior, not because they won or lost.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness
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11. The Wisdom of Your Body by Hillary L. McBride

The Wisdom of Your Body
McBride’s The Wisdom of Your Body helps readers overcome a lifetime of negative messaging

Many of us have been fed conflicting messages about our bodies, leading to a tough and complicated relationship that can be hard to reconcile. The Wisdom of Your Body works to help readers create a positive relationship with the body. If you’ve ever felt like you’re not at home in your own skin or that you’re disconnected from those around you, McBride’s work will help you begin to apply the principles of embodiment, allowing you to get to know yourself beyond the destructive societal constructs that have interfered with your ability to live a fulfilling life in the body you’ve been given. 

“If I could sum up all my years of clinical training and research in one statement, it would be this: We heal when we can be with what we feel.”

Hillary L. McBride, The Wisdom of Your Body
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11/26/2023 11:01 am GMT

12. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

The Power of Now
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle takes readers to a place of peace and serenity

Number one New York Times bestseller The Power of Now can help shift perspective to the present moment, especially for those who are caught up in worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Without going too far into esoteric principles, Tolle offers real-life tips that can help to reduce suffering in day-to-day life, help with tough decision-making, and help you understand how to use meditation and other techniques to bring your awareness to the present moment.

“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”

Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
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11/26/2023 11:01 am GMT

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Author

  • Amanda has an M.S.Ed degree from the University of Pennsylvania in School and Mental Health Counseling and is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer. She has experience writing magazine articles, newspaper articles, SEO-friendly web copy, and blog posts.