52 Book Challenge: Read 52 Philosophy Books in a Year

Lennox Johnson Books

The 52 book challenge is simple: try to read 52 book in a year. One of the main benefits of the challenge is to provide motivation for people who want to read more but can’t seem to find the time. Reading 52 books in a year is a pretty impressive achievement and gives you a sense of accomplishment if you make it. It also gives you a specific goal to work towards each week. I thought it would be fun to create a philosophical version of the challenge, for anyone interested in philosophy but struggling to find the time and motivation to read each week.

Completing the 52 book challenge is not easy, especially if you choose the wrong books. Books that are too long, too difficult, or too boring can easily sap your motivation and derail the entire challenge. These books have been specifically chosen because they are short, relatively easy, and clearly explain an important philosophical topic. They’ve also been carefully organized to build on one another as you go through the year. Starting with ancient philosophers like Socrates and Plato, progressing through to enlightenment philosophers like Hume and Kant, and ending with 20th century philosophers like Sartre and Foucault. This may seem like an intimidating reading list, but the majority of the books are beginner-friendly introductions like the ones found in Oxford’s Very Short Introductions series. In fact, the average length of the books on this list is just 172 pages. That means you could finish the entire list within a year by reading as little as 25 pages per day.

If you do complete the list, you’ll learn an incredible amount about what it means to be human, what it means to live a good life, what a just society would look like, and how we should think about the fundamental nature of reality. I think it’s safe to say that reading these books will profoundly change the way you think about the world. The first book is by renowned philosopher Thomas Nagel and gives an very short overview of some of the key themes that are explored in the rest of this reading list. It’s an ideal starting place for anyone new to philosophy.

The full list is below. See how many you can read in a year.

The Full List

1. What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy
Author: Thomas Nagel
Length: 112 pages
Published: 1987

2. Eastern Philosophy: The Basics
Author: Victoria S. Harrison
Length: 224 pages
Published: 2012

3. Presocratic Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Catherine Osborne
Length: 168 pages
Published: 2004

4. Daodejing
Author: Laozi
Length: 160 pages
Published: ∼4th Century BC

5. Socrates: A Guide for the Perplexed
Author: Sara Ahbel-Rappe
Length: 200 pages
Published: 2009

6. The Elements of Moral Philosophy
Author: James Rachels & Stuart Rachels
Length: 224 pages
Published: 2014 (8ed.)

7. What The Buddha Taught
Author: Walpola Rahula
Length: 151 pages
Published: 1974

8. Plato: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Julia Annas
Length: 120 pages
Published: 2003

9. A Rulebook For Arguments
Author: Anthony Weston
Length: 118 pages
Published: 2018 (5 ed.)

10. The Trial and Death of Socrates
Author: Plato
Length: 58 pages
Published: ∼370 BC

11. Aristotle: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Jonathan Barnes
Length: 176 pages
Published: 2001

12. Riddles of Existence: A Guided Tour of Metaphysics
Author: Earl Conee & Theodore Sider
Length: 272 pages
Published: 2015 (2ed.)

13. Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Brad Inwood
Length: 136 pages
Published: 2018

14. Meditations
Author: Marcus Aurelius
Length: 256 pages
Published: 167 AD

15. Free Will: The Basics
Author: Meghan Griffith
Length: 162 pages
Published: 2013

16. Medieval Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction
Author: John Marenbon
Length: 160 pages
Published: 2016

17. What Is This Thing Called Philosophy of Religion?
Author: Elizabeth Burns
Length: 240 pages
Published: 2017

18. Descartes: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Tom Sorell
Length: 128 pages
Published: 2001

19. Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Jennifer Nagel
Length: 152 pages
Published: 2014

20. Meditations on First Philosophy
Author: René Descartes
Length: 72 pages
Published: 1641

21. Introducing Consciousness
Author: David Papineau
Length: 176 pages
Published: 2010

22. Hobbes: A Guide for the Perplexed
Author: Stephen J. Finn
Length: 160 pages
Published: 2007

23. An Introduction to Political Philosophy
Author: Jonathan Wolff
Length: 250 pages
Published: 2016 (3 ed.)

24. Hume: A Very Short Introduction
Author: A. J. Ayer
Length: 142 pages
Published: 2000

25. An Introduction to Feminist Philosophy
Author: Alison Stone
Length: 248 pages
Published: 2007

26. Kant: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Roger Scruton
Length: 164 pages
Published: 2001

27. But Is It Art?
Author: Cynthia Freeland
Length: 256 pages
Published: 2002

28. Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Simon Critchley
Length: 168 pages
Published: 2001

29. Hegel: A Guide for the Perplexed
David James
Length: 172 pages
Published: 2007

30. Schopenhauer: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Christopher Janaway
Length: 160 pages
Published: 2002

31. Happiness: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Daniel M. Haybron
Length: 169 pages
Published: 2013

32. Kierkegaard: A Guide for the Perplexed
Author: Clare Carlisle
Length: 192 pages
Published: 2007

33. Why Read Marx Today?
Author: Jonathan Wolff
Length: 145 pages
Published: 2003

34. The Communist Manifesto
Author: Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels
Length: 48 pages
Published: 1848

35. Why Read Mill Today?
Author: John Skorupski
Length: 136 pages
Published: 2006

36. On Liberty
Author: John Stuart Mill
Length: 112 pages
Published: 1859

37. Nietzsche: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Michael Tanner
Length: 124 pages
Published: 2000

38. Pragmatism: A Guide for the Perplexed
Author: Robert B. Talisse & Scott Aikin
Length: 200 pages
Published: 2008

39. Logic: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Graham Priest
Length: 184 pages
Published: 2017 (2 ed.)

40. Russell: A Guide for the Perplexed
Author: John Ongley & Rosalind Carey
Length: 226 pages
Published: 2013

41. Philosophy of Language: The Classics Explained
Author: Colin McGinn
Length: 240 pages
Published: 2016

42. How to Read Wittgenstein
Author: Ray Monk
Length: 128 pages
Published: 2005

43. Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Samir Okasha
Length: 154 pages
Published: 2002

44. Existentialism: A Very Short Introduction
Author: Thomas Flynn
Length: 160 pages
Published: 2006

45. Existentialism Is a Humanism
Author: Jean-Paul Sartre
Length: 128 pages
Published: 1946

46. Introducing Critical Theory
Author: Stuart Sim
Length: 175 pages
Published: 2014

47. Metaethics: An Introduction
Author: Andrew Fisher
Length: 197 pages
Published: 2014

48. How to Read Foucault
Author: Johanna Oksala
Length: 128 pages
Published: 2008

49. Animal Ethics: The Basics
Author: Tony Milligan
Length: 194 pages
Published: 2015

50. The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia
Author: Bernard Suits
Length: 264 pages
Published: 2014 (3 ed.)

51. What’s It All About?: Philosophy and the Meaning of Life
Author: Julian Baggini
Length: 224 pages
Published: 2007

52. The Most Good You Can Do
Author: Peter Singer
Length: 232 pages
Published: 2015

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