Book List

Book List

Many people have written to me asking what they should read to properly educate themselves. Here is a list of books that I found particularly influential in my intellectual development. I wrote number thirteen, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. It was published in 1999. It was heavily influenced by the authors of all the books listed below.

Trigger warning: These are the most terrifying books I have encountered.

In the lecture I included with this post (see below) I discuss the suffering inextricably associated with life, attributing some of it to tragedy, a necessary consequence of human limitation, and the remainder to evil, the conscious and malevolent attempt to worsen Being. I suggest that human beings can tolerate tragedy — even triumph over it, if they are guided by truth — but that evil is a far more insidious, subtle and damaging force.

  • The Oatmeal Savage

    Everything by Theodore Dalrymple is good, same with everything by Thomas Sowell.

  • Skolkraft Silas

    What books or journals do you recommend for the hierarchies of compentancies and social dominance?

  • Thank you Dr. Peterson for all that you are! BLOODY BRILLIANT!

  • autoskp

    Another terrifying, unknown book: Hanna Krall – “Shielding the flame”

    >>But on the upper floor of his hospital a mother was giving birth just as the Germans cleared people out of the lower floors, in the “liquidation action”. The doctor handed the newborn baby to the nurse, who immediately smothered it with a pillow. The nurse was nineteen years old. “The doctor didn’t say a thing to her. Not a word. And this woman knew herself what she was supposed to do.” Elsewhere on the upper floor there were several rooms with sick children. As the Germans were entering the ground floor, a woman doctor managed to poison them all. “You see, Hanna,” says Edelman, “You don’t understand anything. She saved those children from the gas chamber. People thought she was a hero.”<<

  • Donald McKay

    I’m a student in high school, I’ve recently become a huge fan of Jordan Peterson. His teachings lead me to believe that in order to function in a world were more than 50% of the workforce is powered by AI we must implement a few things into the education system. Jordan Peterson has done an incredible job at taking abstract problems we share on as humans, and providing an objective solution. More specifically, Jordan Peterson has found a way to explain the rules we must follow as humans in order to live a fulfilled life. I think that is amazing, I also think we could take what he has given us and start educating children in a better way. I want to be an activist for this change because the age of automation is coming quickly. How can we work together to make this happen?

  • Sylwia Wrona

    Great books. I would add „Another World” by Gustaw Herling Grudziński to the list. Greetings from Poland dr Peterson!

  • Christopher Tomlin

    I am about halfway through Age of Anger by Pankaj Mishra. You were talking about how we have gotten away from the social lessons accumulated by thousands of years in your Biblical Series lectures. One of Mishra’s main points is that the rationalism of the Enlightenment replaced traditional roles of community and church, which left a void of moral guidance and overall social direction. The instigators of the Enlightenment were merchants, so their economic value system replaced established social systems. So, as capitalism is an amoral system which has spread worldwide in the time since, societies are left figuring new systems for identity and moral guidance.

  • Avery S

    The Brothers Karamazov is incredible as well. It’s heart wrenching at times and academically intriguing at others. Anyone who loves Dostoevsky, Turgenev, Gogol, or any of the books on the list above should definitely read it.


    are the books on this list in any particular order?


    Dr. Peterson, first and foremost, I must say thank you. I just recently listened to your podcast with Jocko Willink which led me to your podcast with Joe Rogan which led me to your podcast with Camille Paglia. I feel like I have a new lease on life. Still attempting to digest all the information I was enlightened with from you and the others. I look forward to listening to more podcast and lectures of yours but really just want to thank you for what you do and the knowledge you freely share. Extremely grateful, Julie K.

  • Alkis Narbutas

    must read: Varlam Shalamov “Kolyma tales”. more times better than Solzhenitsyn

  • Vlad Pintea

    Hello professor, out of curriosity, what exactly did you find terrifying in Eliade’s History, what part? I read it as a teenager, as I am from Romania and we studied Eliade at highschool, but I don’t recall a feeling of that sort.
    Million thanks for your fight for Truth!


  • Are these books in a recommended reading order? Or are they in an arbitrary order? I would have thought

    11. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
    12. Modern Man in Search of A Soul – Carl Jung

    … would be among the first to read, as they seem useful in the interpretation and understanding of the rest.

  • Shaun C

    I am very interested in learning the art of rhetoric and the formulation of logical arguments in order to engage in debates and effectively convey my point in a well articulated manner. Any book recommendations ?!!

  • I’ve created a Goodreads group for these texts:

    We will also be studying the texts in the Jordan B Peterson Study Group:

  • Hi everyone. I’ve created a Goodreads group for these texts:

    We will also be studying the texts in the Jordan B Peterson Study Group:

  • Daniel Herrera Gonzalez

    I’d love to hear someday what Jordan Peterson thinks about Albert Camus, and specifically his book “The Plague” and his essay “The Myth of Sisyphus”. The second one relates more to his work and how feeling responsible for something can make a life meaning (He who has a why can bear any how), but it would still be interesting to see what he thinks of “The Plague”.

  • Michael Bibby

    ‘Madness and Civilization’ (Michel Foucault)
    ‘Madness and Modernism’ (Louis Sass)
    ‘Decline of the West’ (Oswald Spengler)
    ‘Civilization on Trial’ (Arnold Toynbee)
    ‘Technics and Civilization’ (Lewis Mumford)
    ‘Modern Man in Search of a Soul’ (Carl Jung)
    ‘Geneology of Morals’ (Frederich Nietzsche)
    ‘Birth of Tragedy’ (Frederich Nietzsche)
    ‘Fantasia of the Unconscious’ (D.H. Lawerence)
    ‘Wisdom of the Heart’ (Henry Miller)
    ‘The New Science of Politics’ (Eric Voegelin)
    ‘Letters to a Young Poet’ (Rilke)

  • Danny Doran

    Intriguing set of questions Christian. I have one for you as you are a Physicist, if you wouldn’t mind… I tweeted this question to JP some months ago but as you alluded in your recent post, he must be very busy indeed.
    My question is: Does energy exist anywhere but in the present moment?

  • Christian Smith

    I doubt you will see this, but I just wanted to say thank you. Your talks are always enlightening and challenge my previously held beliefs daily. It is unbelievably refreshing in a time of gossip news, echo chamber messaging boards, and tribal political warfare.

    On the off chance you do read this, I have just completed my degree in physics. Most people do not know time flows at different rates for different people or that they exist really only probabilistically at the most fundamental level. These revelations are both astounding and terrifying, at least to me, I was wondering if you had any thoughts on how modern physics is affecting our minds, both as a species and the individual? Indeed, do you think it has any effect on our psyche at all in comparison to other scientific or technological advances? I would love to see you do a YouTube lecture on it, if you thought it was important enough to warrant such a response.

    • Danny Doran

      Very intriguing set of questions Christian. I have one for you as you are a Physicist, if you wouldn’t mind… I tweeted this question to JP some months ago but as you alluded in your recent post, he must be very busy indeed.
      My question is: Does energy exist anywhere but in the present moment?

  • RafM

    Could you recommend a book that outlines the history of postmodernist political doctrine? thanks.

  • OkiefromMuskogee

    Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, and We The Living……. or Anthem (for a short powerful read). Ayn Rand was my “red pill”, but I have to admit Dr. Peterson has mitigated some of her stridency for me.

  • J C

    Will you be speaking in NYC anytime in the near future? Please consider doing mini- weekend or 1 week course. Where do you list where you will be speaking, do not see it on your website. Best, Jean

  • Daniel Dos Anjos

    Dr. Peterson, I was wondering if your links above happen to also be your preferred editions. I am about to buy my first batch of your recommendations; 5, 6, 7, 10.2, 11, 12, 13, and 15. I prefer books to ebooks, so I am going to grab physical copies and I would like to grab the best versions the first time around. I’ve tried finding this answer already but have been unsuccessful.

  • Winston Todd

    Arthur Koestler’s ‘Darkness at Noon’ was, for me, the glaring omission from this list. A fictionalised account of the Soviet show-trials of the early 1930s, it advances a compelling thesis on the psycho-social nature of Marxist totalitarianism and the role and notion of the individual under such a system. Orwell raved about it, and drew heavily from it both for ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Nineteen Eight-Four’, and was close to Koestler. Much of Prof. Peterson’s thesis seems to orbit this work with out ever mentioning it. The most important novel no-one reads any more. I think its disappearance from reading lists in the Anglosphere over the last few decades may be more than mere happenstance…

    • Chuck Glenn

      Oh, yeah. Darkness at Noon was absolutely nerve-racking for me. But a great book.

  • Rosco

    Listening to his podcasts is like going to the college I imagined I would be going to 45 years ago. What I found back then was a huge disappointment till I realized i could just go to the library.

  • Maria Aldred

    CALIFORNIA POLITICIANS WANT YOUR GUNS – In the beginning Hitler was like an American politician. She is not talking about trump.
    Some of these books are on youtube. I am listening to The road to Wigan Pier.

  • AnotherLover

    I’m glad we share the opinion on the first two books and in the same order! Only, I’m not so glad because if those two books are the most important books for today, that means we’re in a pretty dismal state, and heading for a much, much worse one.

    I want to propose the addition of The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli. I’m studying that book right now and, let me tell you, I sure could have benefited from it if I’d read it in high school. Although, I gotta admit, I don’t think I’d have put the time and energy into it then that I am now, and I would have taken less from it, without a doubt.

    Crime and Punishment and Beyond Good and Evil are on the shelf, but Solzhenitsyn’s barely gotten started with me, and my notebook’s almost full with my not-yet-completed study of The Prince.

    The book list you’ve mentioned a few times is a great idea. The Western canon. Yes. Long overdue, for me.

    Thanks for all you’re doing. It’s really impacting people’s lives in a GOOD way. Thank you.

  • Jennifer

    I am trying to purchase a few of these books but I notice the reviews on amazon talking about the paperback copies having poor translations and basically no editing/formatting. For example – all of the one star reviews on Brave New World. Has anyone purchased any of these books from amazon? Where’s the best place to buy the books with the most authentic translations? Thanks.

    • Jeremy David Stevens

      Jennifer, pay attention to the version of the paperback you’re buying. When you buy something that’s in the public domain, anybody can replicate it and sell it. So somebody with a fifth grade education can throw up a manuscript (with thousands of typographical errors or even pages missing), and then use Amazon’s print-on-demand feature to sell it to you on Amazon. Look at the date of publication and make sure it’s published by a mass-market publisher if you want to be certain that it’s not junk. All of the same rules apply to Kindle. The only way I’ll buy a book independently published through Amazon is if it’s by the author himself/herself. Otherwise, no thanks.

  • RepublicOfKekistan

    If you want to understand Nazism, you also must read Mein Kampf (Adolf Hitler), Nietzsche (for ethical foundation), and regarding anti-semitism, German books going as far back to the middle ages such as Luther’s “On the Jews & their lies”, Wagner’s “Jewishness in Music”, etc. Also several books are good too, like Oswald Spengler’s “decline of the West”, and Ernst Juenger’s “storm of steel”.

    • Nonyo Business

      I recently read Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power Hardcover – March 13, 2012
      by Andrew Nagorski (Author). What some very intelligent people wrote as it happened, not 20-20 hindsight. Mesmerizing.

  • Andrzej Gajos Gajewski

    Nice list, but I wouldn’t include “The painted Bird”. Author not only made up whole story (I believe he admitted it in the end), but he was also lacking some very basic human traits.

  • Thylbanus

    Dr. Peterson. Don’t know if you ever check this, but have you thought of partnering with Amazon to diversify your funding? With these reading lists you have put together, you may find it worthwhile.

  • Jinks Munroe

    My heart truly bleeds when I see Children worshipping false idols in TV land. Jordan you are a much needed breath of fresh air!

  • Daniel “The Munt” Hall

    Yes I must be honest it was the Joe Rogan experience that hooked me also. Great speech! I have just purchased the first 3 books on the list and Brave New World arrived yesterday. Half way through it and already pretty amazed at the similarities to modern life. I was just wondering if your list was in any kind of order? Was this the logical progression to introduce people to the subject matter, as I can’t quite think of how else they are ordered. Thanks Jordan, you’ve opened up some new ways of looking at things for me.

  • somebodystolemynamefatboy

    I would nominate for your list:
    “The True Believer”, Eric Hoffer

    • OkiefromMuskogee

      Yes, yes, and yes!

  • Xiaoshan Xia

    Big fan of Peterson but have to disagree with the selection of Chang’s book, a work born of understandable yet overwhelming resentment and desire for a scapegoat. Peterson’s use of the Cain and Abel parable seems to have a lot of relevance to the quagmire of East Asian history.

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  • John Webster

    Dr. Peterson, the thoughts and recommendations you’ve articulated are impressive. As they relate to the cultural shifting sands – I think in terms of polarization in the Western influences and regional actualizing over emerging political spheres, it has a rational tone. Please indulge me, an uneducated man, to put script to my opinion formed over half a century of fraternity in the vanishing working class. There seems to be a connection to resources, resource aggression, and suffering. All have the appearance of currency – with individual time, the life span, being the ultimate worldly currency.
    Each of us are trapped, forever alone inside the incarnation we occupy, the subjective experience never fully understanding others, or understood by fellow solo travelers. Try as we do to connect, and we have distinct biological imperatives to do so, we can not burst forth beyond the physical expressions of affection; or sadly for some, aggression. The popularity and incorporation of digital technology by individuals has the appearance of evolution; or perhaps acceptance of this state of being – a reflection of a state of lonely freedom found within where the outside collective can only afford liberty at best, oppression in worse situations, and in the extreme repressive environments incarceration; or death.

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  • Luis Magina

    amazing work, helping me a lot

  • Burke Peters

    Jordan, I love your list and I loved your recent Joe Rogan podcast. I am frustrated that you have not spoken about French Author Rene Girard who has deeply analyzed many things very similar to yours and would love to see a dialogue. Please bring this author to American audiences in some small way!!!

  • Philippe de Charmoy

    Hi Jordan
    I just needed to express my gratitude for all that you are sharing with the world. The words “Thank you” are inadequate but lacking anything that can even start to come close, I THANK YOU.
    Be well
    Warm wishes

  • Andre Engelsen Milje

    Peterson recommends 15 books (above) to better understand your human mind and the world we live in. These books deal with different themes in different genres, from different epochs. Any suggestions where to start, and
    in what order?

  • Austin

    kermit the frog’s reading list

  • Chris Pacyga

    I could not believe my eyes when on the list of recommended books I saw
    “The painted bird”. When I red it, over thirty years ago, I could picture the author, painstakingly looking up words in the Polish-English dictionary,
    translating his schlock. Even then (three years after immigrating) I was struck
    by paucity of his English, direct translation of polish phrases and ineptness of
    expressions. (The boy looked into a narrow hole of the bunker and saw a “sea
    of rats”.)
    But then came the insane brutality of Jerzy “de Sade” Kosinski, all made up as
    a cursory glance at his biography will prove. The real people who cared his
    whole family through the war, risking their lives, were nothing like the ogres
    described in the book. Autobiography of Roman Polanski, who actually lived the
    fate of “the boy” shows quite a different picture.
    Are we going to learn about human nature from the ravings of an upstart
    grapho-maniac, revelling in fantasies of sadism, thrilling himself with visions of
    absurd horrors? Were you you really shaken by the scene where
    the platoon of frenzied Kalamuks is copulating with their horses? Did you ever
    see a horse? Did you note the height of its orifices? How did you picture that scene?

    What a shocking contrast between man’s wisdom and his literary taste.

    • Martel

      So you recommend Hollywood’s celebrated pedophile/rapist Roman Polanski instead.

  • Brandon Nichols

    Thanks very much for your reading list. I’ve just begun the Gulag Archipelago, really terrifying and eye opening. Have you considered making an audiobook version of your book? I think it would help spread your message to an even bigger audience. Thanks for your work!

  • ronin

    Mr. Peterson, while watching your videos I was thinking, “this guy reminds me of Theodore Dalyrmyple”. Sure enough, he’s on your reading list. I’m a math teacher and am impressed by not only your ideas, but also your energy and strength of will. You, sir, are a force of nature.

  • Michael Ritzema

    Yes I’m with James on this one…you Rock big time! I too discovered your work via Joe Rogan and it blew me away. I’ve since been listening to your lectures and started on the reading list. Such valuable, generous, important work. I’ll be spreading the word and trying to get people to support what you are doing. Once again Thank you.

  • Michal Nancy Karni

    Dostoevsky: what translators are most easily readable/understood? there is a debate which version is easiest for modern readers to appreciate. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky are recommended by reviewers on Amazon. thanks

  • The Ancient Mariner

    “Revenge against the conditions of existence itself” wow…..!

  • The Ancient Mariner

    Thanks Jordan.

  • Kun Yu

    Dear Prof. Peterson,
    Hi. This is a great list, except that I want to point out that Chang’s The Rape of Nanking has received some criticism from historians. Chang was trained as a journalist but not a historian. So it is a good introductory book but academically may not be the best choice on the topic of Nanking Massacre.

    • Georgiaboy61

      Re: “This is a great list, except that I want to point out that Chang’s The Rape of Nanking has received some criticism from historians. Chang was trained as a journalist but not a historian.”
      Can you be more specific? I am asking because I am a professional historian, read the Iris Chang’s book on the terrible atrocities in Nanking – and found it to be superbly done. One does not have to be “professionally trained” as a historian to do effective historical scholarship – although some individuals certainly benefit from such training. Chang’s instincts struck me as being very sound, and she was a careful researcher. Much of the criticism of her book came from certain quarters of Japanese society; relations between Japan and China are still very touchy even all of these years later over the Nanking incident and unfortunately, Ms. Chang received a few death threats.

      • Kun Yu

        Wikipedia cited some criticism on this book. In addition, the story I heard is that Chang’s book contains so many factual errors that even Japanese *left-wing* intellectuals who support Chang (in particular Akira Fujiwara) wanted to publish another book pointing out the errors in Chang’s book when they publish it. Chang refused and that’s why her book never gets published in Japan.

        • Georgiaboy61

          Wikipedia is not considered a valid reference by a professional historian. You are going to have to do better than that. Chang’s book isn’t published in Japan for the simple reason that it has been blacklisted. Answer this question: if her book is so inaccurate and poorly done, why are there so many powerful and influential people in the Land of the Rising Sun who do want it read?
          It is germane to note that I consider myself a friend of Japan and of Japanese interests for the most part. However, Japan’s stubborn refusal to admit her culpability in this atrocity is both counterproductive and simply wrong.

          • Kun Yu

            Wikipedia is not a valid reference you can cite in your paper, but it does not mean you should not use this tool in your research (don’t tell me you never use Google or Wikipedia in your research). It is usually a start that allows you to dig deeper. Some articles in the Wikipedia page I gave above are written by serious researchers. You should actually take a look.

            The fact that powerful and influential people recommend it is not a good criterion for whether or not it is inaccurate. Academia has a different criterion, isn’t it? A lot of work professionals find great has little influence outside academia. It’s a different world.

            But I never said right-wing Japanese are correct in denying Nanking Massacre, not did I say the book does not have its value in other aspects like popularizing the existence of Nanking Massacre. The idea that Japanese should face its history and that this book has some flaws are not mutually exclusive. And while Japanese right-wingers are definitely wrong in denying Nanking Massacre, you can’t really say they are wrong for some errors they catch in Chang’s book, since they have sound evidence in these cases. That being said, an unfortunate effect of Chang’s book in Japan is that right-wingers are able to use the errors in Chang’s book as examples to convince people the whole thing was made up.

          • Georgiaboy61

            I believe what we here is one of those classic “glass half full/empty” dilemmas. I believe Chang’s book to be a worthwhile work of historical scholarship, regardless of its errors (it should be noted that the “errors” themselves are often debatable, since the historical record is not always conclusive, clear or complete). You apparently believe the opposite. My question then becomes – if you regard Chang’s history of Nanking as inadequate or flawed, whose historical account would you use instead?

      • Kun Yu

        And here is an article by Hata Ikuhiko that has some comments on Chang’s book:

  • Andrew M Gilmour

    What about Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault by Stephen Hicks?

  • Jon

    Brave New World and 1984 are good for teenagers. Adults who go back and read them will likely find them a bit empty, boring, and simplistic.

  • Dan

    Last night, I listened to the Joe Rogan Podcast with Dr. Peterson… I did not sleep because I listened to it again. Now I’m all over the Youtube vids… When this new book comes out, JUST TAKE MY MONEY. 12 Most Valuable Things Everyone Should Know… I can’t imagine a more enticing title… Hurry up and publish it already!

  • Bryan

    Dr Peterson,

    Is there any books out there that you’d or your community would recommend on Pol Pot? I’ve seen a meme on Facebook with pictures of Mao, Stalin, and a few others. You can google “The experts agree gun control works” to see it. I’ve been going through your list. I just received Ordinary Men. I was just wondering if something on Pol Pot would further in the the depths of what humans can do to other humans.

    Thank you for you

  • Mihail Iordanov

    Dear Dr. Peterson,
    Could you, please, provide the specific translation that you use when quoting from the Tao Te Ching (Daode Jing)?
    Many Thanks,

  • Mike Moore

    How would someone who is simply watching the lectures online purchase a copy of Personality and Its Transformations?

  • Paul Weeks

    Dr. Peterson: Thank you for your contributions to Western thought, and philosophy. I am very grateful to have discovered you, and your work. As a history major from UC Davis, and former high school history teacher, I particularly appreciate your point about knowing history as the key to knowing one’s self. Your suggested reading list is outstanding. I read the first 4 on your list in high school, and taught 1984, and Brave New World to my 11th graders a few years ago. I’m presently in the middle of Demons. Would you consider adding The Idiot to your list? Thank you for your outstanding contributions to the discussion of morality, virtue, truth, and for your stance against SJW fascists. Please keep up the good fight. Best Regards, Paul Weeks

  • janet

    I listened to the Joe Rogan podcast as well. It was great. The main problem with professors being nice about these issues and trying to reason with SJWs is that the left is insane and can not be reasoned with. The fact is the left is an anti-human, anti-male, anti-woman, anti-family anti-white death cult that must be eradicated from society. We can not coexist or much less survive with these people given any sort of power. It’s time for real action.

  • Drew Schneck

    I just finished reading Crime and Punishment, it was incredible.
    Next up will be Brave New World, then likely another classic.
    I have been watching your interviews and lectures for a few weeks now, they have had a serious positive impact on me. Thank you

  • superpanda

    I would add Master and Margret by Bulgakov. Funny story how the Satan faces off dogmatic Soviet rule over a writer who wrote a story about Jesus

  • Jim

    I wonder what views Jordan Peterson has on Veganism.

    • Raz Chamber

      he thinks that vegans r silly freaks, like any sane person does.

      • Valerie Searles Delgado

        He doesn’t hold us in high regard, but that is probably because he is not immune from cognitive dissonance and stereotyping… I have met many vegans with whom veganism was one of the very few things we had in common – Peterson paints us with a very broad brush – oh well, nobody’s 100 % on the mark – I still respect him and deeply value his insights!

        • jimbo jones


    • Jay

      I’d also like to hear his take on Veganism. It seems to me that the animal agriculture industry is not only highly destructive to the planet but also causes unnecessary pain and suffering on mass. In my experience, most people will acknowledge that the practice of enslaving and killing animals for their benefit makes them feel uncomfortable, and will admit that they don’t support it – yet they continue to consume the products regardless. This cognitive dissonance is fascinating, and I’d like to know what Dr. Peterson’s thoughts are on it.

      • Jim

        Or even on the biblical level since Dr.Peterson is so knowledgeable in that topic. Did God love animals? Do animals have free will? In the bible they did not always have free will.

        There was a psychology professor in New York who was a vegan advocate (can’t recall his name) but he hasn’t made any videos or articles on the topic..

        • ben

          A christian: Yes God loves animals. He put their care in our hands. We rule over them and they can serve us. What about farming practices from a christian perspective? We do see a higher level of quality in meat from animals cared for respectfully in good conditions. Ask a high end butcher and you’ll find they take this very seriously. The Japanese Kobe steak is so unique in part because of how intensely the animals are cared for. So treating animals with greed will affect their quality even from the point of view of a selfish meat eater. Organic is more highly priced because it’s higher quality and harder to produce at scale. Christians are supposed to do everything for the glory of God. Personally, that means that low quality is unacceptable. Now. For affirmation about vegans check out the Daniel story. They didn’t eat meat and ended up healthier than those who did. There are stories of Jesus eating fish, bread, figs, pom and wine. As far as I recall—no other meat is specified. It doesn’t mean he didn’t eat it, he may have been too poor to. Who knows. Jesus would have likely been kosher as well. So no shellfish, pigs, sick animals etc. Hope that helps!

      • ARB

        There is, of course, a middle ground between full-on veganism and a hearty endorsement of factory farms. I’m slightly off-put by factory farms, have essentially no problem with more humane farms (a decent, well-fed life out of the viciousness of nature for a limited lifespan and a humane slaughter, or even just milk, seems like a good deal for an animal), but consider hunting for wild creatures (especially as conducted by the hunters I know) a highly honorable participation in the process of nature. Veganism, in contrast, seems unnatural and unreal.

        But, of course, it wasn’t my opinion you wanted to hear. I just wanted to emphasize that there are other practices violating veganism which are not of the factory farm variety.

      • smallpotato

        Actually, animal husbandry (as long as it’s on pasture) is HEALING for the planet since it creates topsoil. It’s agriculture, especially of monocrops, which erodes topsoil. Veganism is destructive to human health AND that of the planet. I suggest reading ‘The vegetarian myth’ by Lierre Keith.

  • Martti O Suomivuori

    Started to write self authoring stuff yesterday. At 3 a.m. I noticed that it was late. There are patterns I had not seen before that became evident as I progressed. Loose ends were tied up. Now reading the “Maps of Meaning” in parallel I felt that an important journey has started. There is a profound human voice in Jordan Peterson’s writing. I had thought that I had “grown out” of Jung but now at this moment it seems that I only have shifted sideways, not really advanced. After “Maps” I’ll go back to Jung.
    The reading list presented here has lots of parallels to what I have in my bookshelf. I feel pieces clicking in new places. My readings get activated as thought tools while I write. I should have met Dr. Peterson long time ago, there have been lots of things “happening” –things that I have done without knowing why or how to do otherwise– that might have gone differently, causing less collateral damage. Time is running out, I am getting old.

    • Raz Chamber

      us sound completely lost. seek god before its too late.

      • Martti O Suomivuori

        That’s what this is about, only not in your terms

  • JohnPedant

    Today is the birthday of John Milton (b. 9 December 1608), so it seems fit to quote his sentence from Areopagitica (1644) that is the best ever answer to “safe space”: “I cannot praise a fugitive and cloistered virtue that never sallies and sees her adversary, but slinks out of the race for that immortal garland that is to be run for, not without dust and heat”. Professor Jordan Peterson is a John Milton for our times. Bless him.

  • Daniel

    I personally feel that Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 should be in the list too. I think it’s up there with Orwell and Huxley really, but doesn’t get much of a mention. This passage especially shows the dangerous train of thought behind censorship and ‘offensive’ works:

    “Coloured people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Bum the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag. Take your fight outside. Better yet, into the incinerator. Funerals are unhappy and pagan? Eliminate them, too. Five minutes after a person is dead he’s on his way to the Big Flue, the Incinerators serviced by helicopters all over the country. Ten minutes after death a man’s a speck of black dust. Let’s not quibble over individuals with memoriams. Forget them. Burn them all, burn everything. Fire is bright and fire is clean.”

    • Noah Ahmed

      I agree. Fahrenheit 451 holds a special place in my heart as the first dystopian novel I ever read and, as a result, the one that sparked (heh heh) my interest in the genre and everything that flowed from that interest, which has had a profound impact on my life.

    • Jeremy David Stevens

      I love Fahrenheit 451 and just Ray Bradbury in general. If you’ve never read The Martial Chronicles, I recommend that as well. Some people think it seems a bit dated/quaint today, but I love it.

  • Jordan

    While watching the “Tragedy vs. Evil” lecture, it occurred to me that Jesus was alluding to Cain when he instructed Peter to forgive “seventy time seven” times. Is there a book, by you or another, which discusses Genesis in the manner you did in this lecture? Of the books listed here, I’ve only read Orwell’s.

    • JohnPedant

      Two great books, both by the same author (John Milton 1608-1674, and his birthday is tomorrow):

      Areopagitica (1644), the noblest defence of free speech ever written
      Paradise Lost (1667, and it “discusses Genesis”)

  • Jono Scott Staly

    I was due to read Brave New world in the summer, it must be good if it is better than 1984 which is my personal favourite. Nietzsche sounds like more of an exercise in thought itself. Can anyone recommend a good book on Pyscology to do with personality, Jung is the only person ive read that I agree with so far but I know next to nothing about academic (spell it wrong again) Psychology. I need something short I don’t have much time. Cheers.

  • Kurt Tooley

    Does anyone have any recommendations for English translations of Nietzsche?

    Also, further non-fiction reading suggestions:
    Hans Blumenberg, Work on Myth, the Legitimacy of the Modern Age, and The Genesis of the Copernican World.
    In these three works, Blumenberg provides a fairly compact and comprehensive historical and philosophical description and discussion of the development of many of the ideas discussed by Dr. Peterson.
    Hans Jonas, Chapter 13: Epilogue: Gnosticism, Existentialism, and Nihilism, in the Gnostic Religion, ISBN 0-8070-5799-1.
    In my opinion, this comparative of two seemingly very different movements is incredible.
    Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom.
    I’m somewhat surprised that Dr. Peterson doesn’t recommend The Road to Serfdom as one of the most terrifying books.

    • Paul Lacey

      “Does anyone have any recommendations for English translations of Nietzsche?”

      Yes, Walter Kaufmann.

      • Kurt Tooley


        From your response, I can’t tell if you are endorsing the quality of Kaufmann’s translation or not. Have you compared Nietzsche’s text with Kaufmann’s translation(s)?

        For what it’s worth, In my opinion, Kaufmann is an unreliable translator of Nietzsche: There are places where he just leaves Nietzsche’s text and goes off for pages on his own, which is obvious in a page by page comparison–which I did way back when my German was good enough for at least a basic comparison. Even allowing for translation being an inherently creative endeavor and not a simple mechanical matter like encryption/decryption, Kaufmann takes way too free a hand and makes a completely inadequate effort to separate what Kaufmann thinks of Nietzsche and what Nietzsche actually writes. So, Kaufmann is not adequate in my opinion.

        Oddly, it is often hard to get a translation of anything that is not obviously twisted by the translator, and that’s even allowing reasonably for the many recognized difficulties of translation. Like everyone else, translators seem overwhelmingly inclined to see what they want to see and nothing else. (Now might be a good time to get into a discussion of cognitive biases for anyone competent in the subject…) Take, for example, Steppenwolf. Steppenwolf, like much of Hesse’s writing, is relatively simple in it’s language, but is nonetheless difficult to translate, especially in it’s poetics. However, until the publication of the Thomas Wayne translation, the most common translation by far was that of Basil Creighton. Unfortunately, the Creighton translation entirely suppresses an entire aspect of the text that makes Hesse seem less modern or “New Age” (regarding Eastern mysticism). For sure, there is an element of Der Steppenwolf that is influenced by and alludes to Eastern mysticism–or even shamanism–but there is a definite strand in the German text where Hesse suggests a far darker interpretation full of magic and monsters of a determinedly pre-modern sort: How much difference does it make to the interpretation of a scene to know that Hermine’s lips were “blutroten” and not merely “bright red” as the translator would have you believe? The translation of “blutroten” as “bright red” is not legitimate; the better translation is the literal “blood red”.

        Only very rarely can a translator be trusted, which makes me think that the emphasis on reading in the original is justified whenever you can manage it.

        • Trevor Gower

          Interesting comment regarding Kaufmann’s translations. In his original works, including the “Existentialism” and “Discovering the Mind” series he takes quite a few individuals to task for poor interpretations and failures to refer to the original German. His attack on Popper’s view of Hegel, in particular, appears devastating.

          Brian Leiter, the most heavily-cited Nietzsche scholar in English, condemned Kaufmann’s “Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist” quite strongly, but also recommended his translations on the whole. Sanitized but serviceable has been my impression, but my German isn’t up to a line-by-line comparison at a pace beyond a crawl.

          I love assessing translations, but I’m just too slow to work through an appreciable amount of text. So I’d greatly appreciate it if you might point out some examples of the more glaring/difficult passages.

  • Ignacio S

    Thank you so much professor! I will be soon talking all your self authoring courses! Also a special thanks to Joe Rogan. You have all my support professor! Best of luck and greetings from Monterrey, México.

  • James Parker

    I have just listened to your podcast with Joe Rogan – twice. Simply put, it was a few hours that changed the way I view the world. Thank you.

    • Ignacio S

      Dude! Listened to it twice as well! It was like a movie. I just got the book oridinary men!

      • Gabriel Stanier

        I downloaded it (and nearly every other JP video) on my phone and watch it on the subway instead of a TV show; Education at its core

    • Blake McCowan

      Same! I’ve been listening to his lectures every day since last Thursday. Incredible information.

      • EJ

        Share with your friends and family. His work is cavalry in the culture war.

        • Shane Patrick Kennedy

          I am taking his video/podcast to two local churches this weekend. I am very excited to do my own little part of being Peter.

          • Danny Doran

            That sounds interesting Shane. I would like to know how that goes down. When you say “local” churches… Whereabouts? Denomination?

    • Libertas bellum

      I watched the episode and then immediately downloaded the podcast and am listening to it. I am interested if any of you know the title of the Plos One study?

    • Mike Kofman

      I also listened to it twice!

  • Atena Bishka

    Top of the list: The Divine Comedy, The Iliad and the Odyssey
    Greek Tragedies
    Shakespeare’s works, especially Macbeth, King Lear and Hamlet
    Pretty much every mighty Russian writer… more specifically The Brothers Karamazov and Notes from the Underground (anything penned by Dostoyevsky), Lev Tolstoy’s A Confession (I take it back: everything from him), everything from Tchekhov
    Goethe – Faust
    Kafka – The Trial, Metamorphosis, everything
    Three Ks: Kundera, Klima and Kadare (Chronicle in stone, Palace of Dreams, The Concert) – Note: Kafka should be classified as one single K category.
    Heinrich Boll – The Clown, The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum: Or, How Violence Develops and Where It Can Lead, Group Portrait with Lady
    Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Plays
    Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters To a Young Poet, Duino Elegies
    Thomas Mann – The Magic Mountain
    Henri F. Ellenberger – The Discovery of the Unconscious (discovered thanks to JBP)
    Erich Neumann – Amor and Psyche, The Origins and History of Consciousness (discovered thanks to JBP)
    C. G. Yung – The Red Book
    Freud – The Interpretation of Dreams
    Maps of Meaning (of course!)

  • Julian

    Dear Jordan Peterson:

    A few weeks ago I started to follow your videos and lectures on Youtube, and I find your concepts extremely attractive, enlightening and fundamentally brave.

    I am not surprised by the popularity you are achieving with your efforts to protect free expression. As you pointed out, this is not only about the use of certain pronouns, but because some fundamental values ​​of our civilization are being affected, and I would say also because a certain spiritual search latent in all of us that feels deeply attracted to your original concepts, in terms of science, religion, and the seek for truth and spiritual identity.

    I want to recommend to you, from my modest position as an amateur reader in subjects related to psychology and metaphysics, and especially since you have placed yourself in a religious place (I listened to your almost 3 hour podcast with Joe Rogan and I am still studying it), the reading of the books of Carlos González Pecotche, creator of logosophy (not to be confused with logotherapy; more info in Wikipedia). I think that you will find them extremely stimulating and intellectually challenging.

    I especially recommend his work ‘The mechanism of conscious life’ as a starting point. From there ‘Logosophy: Science and Method’ and ‘The spirit’, works comparatively short and simple to read, but which I am sure you will find at least of interest. These books can be downloaded free from

    Thank you for your commitment to truth and freedom of expression. You really have an admirer in South America.

  • Debra Blouin

    Do you have a preferred order for this reading list? I was able to find 10 of these on Audible. Demons, Maps of Meaning, and Ordinary Men I will have to source elsewhere.

  • Marlon Frost

    A necessity for your list, Dr. Peterson:

    Political Ponerology by Andrew M. Lobaczewski

    “During World War II, Łobaczewski worked for the Polish Home Army, an underground Polish resistance organization. After the war, he studied at Jagiellonian University under professor of psychiatry Edward Brzezicki.[2] Łobaczewski’s class was the last to receive an education uninfluenced by Soviet ideology and censorship, after which psychiatry was restricted to Pavlovian concepts. The study of genetics and psychopathy was forbidden.

    The original theory and research was conducted by a research group of psychologists and psychiatrists from Poland, Czechoslovakia, and pre-communist Hungary. The group was brought together by Łobaczewski and included Kazimierz Dąbrowski, Stefan Szuman, and Stefan Błachowski, and many other anonymous contributors.”

    “The original manuscript of this book went into the furnace minutes before a secret police raid in Communist Poland. The second copy, painfully reassembled by scientists working under impossible conditions of violence and repression, was sent via courier to the Vatican. Its receipt was never acknowledged – the manuscript and all valuable data lost. In 1984, the third and final copy was written from memory by the last survivor of the original researchers: Andrew Lobaczewski. Zbigniew Brzezinski blocked its publication.

    After half a century of suppression, this book is finally available.

    Political Ponerology is shocking in its clinically spare descriptions of the true nature of evil. It is poignant in its more literary passages revealing the immense suffering experienced by the researchers contaminated or destroyed by the disease they were studying.

    Political Ponerology is a study of the founders and supporters of oppressive political regimes. Lobaczewski’s approach analyzes the common factors that lead to the propagation of man’s inhumanity to man. Morality and humanism cannot long withstand the predations of this evil. Knowledge of its nature – and its insidious effect on both individuals and groups – is the only antidote.”

    [Best supplemented with ‘Without Conscience’ by Dr. Robert Hare, Phd]

    • Brandy

      @Marion Frost, thanks for recommending that book, I am interested in reading it, and immediately found a free pdf version available here for anyone interested in reading the book:

      • Dwight Dunker

        The pdf file in your link only has 58 pages.

    • Bren Dowell

      heck yes! I got this book recently. It’s a bit tough to get through due to the way it’s written, and i mean that in a technical sense, the wording is uncomfortable and oddly structured. i’m still not done with it. I wish someone would re-translate it.

    • Georgiaboy61

      Re: “In 1984, the third and final copy was written from memory by the last survivor of the original researchers: Andrew Lobaczewski. Zbigniew Brzezinski blocked its publication.”

      I hope I do not appear naïve – but I have not read the book, and therefore do not understand why Zbigniew Brzezinski would block the publication of this book – “Political Ponerology” – or how he could block its publication in the first place. It may be germane to say that I am not what one would call a fan of Dr. Brzezinski.

    • Marianne Lelieveld

      Marlon, I wholly agree about ‘Political Ponerology’ being necessary reading. Dr. Robert Hare’s books are a good addition, as are Martha Stout’s ‘The Sociopath Nextdoor’, ‘The Myth of Sanity’ etc.

  • Hi Dr Peterson.
    I’d like to add two books that are terrifying, in their demonstration of the banality and insidiousness of evil.

    The first is – Defying Hitler: A Memoir
    It offers some fascinating personal first hand insight into the change in society and how to survive it.

    From the blub:
    “Sebastian Haffner was a non-Jewish German who emigrated to England in 1938. This memoir (written in 1939 but only published now for the first time) begins in 1914 when the family summer holiday is cut short by the outbreak of war, and ends with Hitler’s assumption of power in 1933. It is a portrait of himself and his own generation in Germany, those born between 1900 and 1910, and brilliantly explains through his own experiences and those of his friends how that generation came to be seduced by Hitler and Nazism.
    The Germans lacked an outlet for self-expression: where the French had amour, food and wine, and the British their gardens and their pets, the Germans had nothing, leading to a tendency towards mass psychosis. The upheaval of post-WWI revolution, factionalism and inflation left the Germans addicted to excitement and action: Hitler provided this, and more.”

    The second is – Political Ponerology: A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes

    I think you would really enjoy this one! It is, in my opinion, a very important book from the point of view of tying together scientific observation on the rise of evil through political systems and its effects on society and personal psychology. The principles can be seen at work in organisations and businesses too, when you know what to look for.

    From the blub:
    “The original manuscript of this book went into the furnace minutes before a secret police raid in Communist Poland. The second copy, painfully reassembled by scientists working under impossible conditions of violence and repression, was sent via courier to the Vatican. Its receipt was never acknowledged – the manuscript and all valuable data lost. In 1984, the third and final copy was written from memory by the last survivor of the original researchers: Andrew Lobaczewski. Zbigniew Brzezinski blocked its publication. After half a century of suppression, this book is finally available. Political Ponerology is shocking in its clinically spare descriptions of the true nature of evil. It is poignant in its more literary passages revealing the immense suffering experienced by the researchers contaminated or destroyed by the disease they were studying. Political Ponerology is a study of the founders and supporters of oppressive political regimes. Lobaczewski’s approach analyzes the common factors that lead to the propagation of man’s inhumanity to man. Morality and humanism cannot long withstand the predations of this evil. Knowledge of its nature and its insidious effect on both individuals and groups – is the only antidote.”

    • Dannielle Richins

      My library system did not have Political Ponerology, so I recommended it as a title. Thank you for the inspiration.

  • Richard

    Dear Prof. Peterson!
    I live in Hungary, just learned about your defense of free speech and that you’re taking a stand, which makes me feel grateful. I too love the works of Dostoevsky, each of his main works raised disturbing questions in me, and that’s something I value in books, so I’m looking forward to your recommendations, and I just started to watch your lectures on youtube as well, and the fact that you are willing to educate people for free as well, while you yourself seem a dedicated student of life makes me even more grateful that I’ve heard about you. I’d like to say, that I work in a hostel, as a receptionist in Budapest, so if you ever plan to visit Hungary, there’s a good chance I can provide you with accommodation, possibly a private room for a few nights, which I would only consider fair, since you helped me to educate myself without the necessity of going to a university for it. I would also like to recommend you a Hungarian writer, called Sándor Szathmári and two of his works, one called Kazohinia, and the other Hiába (or: In vain). Kazohinia was the latter one, it is a Swiftian story with linguistic experiments, but basically guides us through the hell of a society which is perfectly in order and is extremely efficient but has no use for sentiments, and when the hero of the story cannot take it anymore, we’ll learn to know a community that seem to be governed by irrationality and chaos. His other work: “In vain” (I’m not sure if it’s translated to English) was written in 1932, it successfully predicts the exact year of when WW II. started, the dictatorship of socialism (it’s even highly and darkly satirical, because they see the story of Tom Sawyer manipulating other kids to paint the fence instead of him as a positive propaganda, something like: the joy of work is good when shared or something) and he predicted bugs to spy on people, so basically he preceded Orwell’s 1984, and came out about the Brave New World, which he couldn’t have possible been influenced by at the time. So anyway, in “In vain” the protagonist is trying to escape this Marxist system by building an independent, self-supplying community, which he intends to make a livable place for everybody, but things are not going well. You’ve probably heard of most other books I could recommend, so basically that’s it. Except you probably love the films of Andrei Tarkovsky or if you don’t know them yet, you probably will, all 7 feature films of his have incredible philosophical depths and even the book written about his films (by Kovács András Bálint and Szilágyi Ákos) is an intellectually stimulating, heavy study of his art and you won’t regret reading or watching any of these, associated with him. Thank you.

    • Barbara

      Richard, you speak for this Hungarian as well with your words of appreciation 🙂

  • mb

    The only book that I would recommend (and I’d read four on your list by the time I was 16 two others later after I quit school at grade 10) is:

    The Handmaid’s Tale.

  • Jake Johnston

    Hello Peterson & Son :

    I have a TERRIFYING book for the dr! The Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII, by Jack el-Hai. Absolutely phenomenal book about the psychiatrist who was in charge of finding the Nazi war criminals psychologically fit for execution. dr kelly expects to find monsters, but finds men that were just like the men back home in the USA, and is particularly disturbed by his own ability to relate with hermann goring. it is a profound and terrifying book… dr kelly ended up killing himself. I heard jordan say something the other day about wanting to scare his students into realizing that they would have been one of the nazi if they had lived in hitler’s germany, and i immediately found myself incredibly jealous of his students

    i was trying to find a way to write dr peterson, but did not see his email anywhere handy. thank you so much for everything you have been doing lately, you are truly a hero of free speech. thank you so much for explaining things so well and being so patient with the people who would deny you the “platform” to disagree with them. i am absolutely grateful for taking on these dragons, i only wish there was something i could do to help.

    God Bless Jordan Peterson, a brilliant and much needed voice in 2016. One of the only people ive seen who is smart enough to see through the BS and has the patience to try to help the craziest people do the same, with nothing but good nature in his heart. It is absolutely amazing watching people accuse this man of hate, when he is the only person who cares enough about these people to help them understand, at his own expense.

    Warm Regards,

  • Peter Loewen, PhD

    Dear Jordan,

    A story to add to your list, perhaps – Graham Greene’s “The Destructors”

    Bored, nihilistic boys with love or hate for nothing, who destroy a house just because it’s there. And then the laughing driver who has no sense of just how awful it is what he’s just seen and how he was made the unwilling accomplice to the final act of destruction.


  • Ants Torim

    A wonderful list!

    I would also recommend:

    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. The devil and his retinue visit Stalinist Moscow. A writer is obsessed with the story of Pilate and Jesus.
    The Compromise by Sergei Dovlatov. A semi-autobiographical novel about authors work in a Brezhnev era Soviet newspaper. As his criminal cousin observes: “I only killed a man and tried to burn his body. But you?!”

    • Ceci Woodard

      I agree, The Master and Margarita was phenomenal.

  • Just heard about you from a random comment on CBC and this book list absolutely sold me on finding out some more about your work. Very interested in number 13.

    Wondering if you’ve ever read Bellah’s Religion in Human Evolution and if so if you have any brief thoughts.

  • Peter White

    Luckily I read Gulag Archepelago when I was 19. I could not remain the armchair Marxist I was becoming after that. The scales had been lifted.

  • Christopher Elliott

    God bless you, Prof. Peterson.

    I would also recommend to your readers Ji Xianlin’s “The Cowshed: Memories of the Chinese Cultural Revolution,” as an apposite work.

  • sarina singh

    Dr. Peterson, you really would love Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writing , especially Letters and Papers from Prison. As you may know, he was sentenced to death by the Nazi’s, while in prison he wrote his letters that explore how to live a life of meaning, purpose and truth. He speaks of faith in the face of uncertainity and doubt. A man who knew all too well this reality first hand. I know a lot of your students would truly enjoy his writings.

    • Evan Austin

      In a similar vein, Paul Tillich was the first university professor to be dismissed from his post by the Nazis at the beginning of their regime. He writes a lot about faith and courage as an antidote to the existential anxieties that every man faces.

  • SD

    Hi Dr. Peterson,

    I am a student who is interested in your arguments, however I am having trouble understanding the logical consistencies of them. Upon close inspection, I do not see how they hold up.

    First — I think you undermine your argument by relying on pejoratives (SJW, The Radical Left, etc.) for a vague group of people that you have not clearly defined or substantiated. I do not mind the labels, but I find the obvious emotional element of their use to be highly suspect, especially when many of your arguments denigrate the emotional reactions of your opponents.

    Second — you claim to be against ‘idealogues’ for various reasons found in your videos; however, you fail to acknowledge or even suppose that your views may constitute an ideology as well. Given that you may, yourself, be considered an ideologue, are you not self-defeating by invalidating yourself? How can you truly — and logically — believe your argument, then? Yet again, you partake in similar tactics as your opponents — with the only difference being that you are on the opposite side of the argument. Are you truly any different from them? Furthermore, are your views nothing more than mere preferences? How is this defendable and different from your opposition?

    Third — you claim to value the truth over many things (kindness, safety, etc.), however you’ve done a poor job at standing up for your own claim. If truth is what you are after, how exactly does disregarding the unique transgender categorizations favour a ‘truthful’ exploration? The categorizations will implicitly exist, whether you like them or not. How are you contributing to an academic exploration of this concept by ignoring this? I will remind you that Anatomists of the Renaissance began labelling internal structures (against moral claims), but this act was undoubtedly beneficial to society — it also added hundreds of more new terms to the lexicon, many of which are now common-place. The act of defining is, by virtue, an academic pursuit. How can you defend your viewpoint, except on the basis of your own personal preference — which, is something you have, yet again, argued against in your opposition?

    If your arguments distill to what you prefer versus what you don’t prefer, I truly don’t think they are grounds for good academic debate; not because you shouldn’t have them, but instead because they are of poor quality. It is, essentially, an argument of aesthetics.To effectively continue this debate, I would hope that you more specifically define the issue and eliminate the incongruencies to provide clarity. Further, I would also hope that you would provide solutions to your own problem, rather than resenting a group or feeling morally superior to your opposition — you have made these requests for your opposition in you Youtube videos, but you do not follow it yourself. How can this be taken seriously, especially if cross-examined judiciously?

    I cannot agree with your arguments as they are not internally consistent, or even factual. Consequently, they are opinion — which is often relegated to newspaper editorials, rather than academia. Truth does not bend to opinion — but people do, and that is perhaps the most telling part of your whole campaign.

    I sincerely hope to hear your response to my claims. Since you have expressed the desire for debate from the other side, I truly hope you will live up to your word and reply to my post directly. I really do think that we can bring people together on the issue and work toward a more comprehensive solution for all. I await your response!

    With very best regards,

    • John Leonard

      Dear SD,

      As I understand it, Professor Peterson’s objection to Bill C-16 is not that the supporters of the bill have an ideology while he does not, but that he does not want to become a puppet mouthpiece for his opponents’ ideology (which he would be, if he were required by law to use their vocabulary). That seems a valid objection to me. If one side of a debate tries to force its ideological vocabulary in and through the protesting mouths of the opposition, there is no debate but only totalitarianism. Bill C-16 does threaten to force people to speak words they do not wish to speak (an even more intrusive form of censorship than the milder but still controversial censorship of merely prohibiting speech).

      That said, Professor Peterson’s moral position would be weakened if he tried to impose his own vocabulary (gendered pronouns) on people who did not want to be designated in traditional terms. I have asked Professor Peterson (on this list) for clarification of his position and am awaiting a reply. Even if he does insist on imposing undesired pronouns (and I have no evidence that he does), he would still have the right not to speak words or express ideas that he deplores.

      It seems to me that a compromise is possible. Gendered pronouns exist only in the third person singular. Gender never arises (at least not in pronouns) when you are speaking face to face, for then you use ‘you’ or a proper name. It has always been considered bad manners to refer to someone as ‘he’ or ‘she’ when that person is present. The British have a colloquial expression ‘she is the cat’s mother’ for this kind of rudeness. ‘Ze’ would also be the cat’s mother (father?) for the same reason. But of course Professor Peterson is not just concerned with pronouns. He is defending the right of the individual not to be forced to voice hollow (because insincere) words imposed from without by a totalitarian government. HIs opponents are not defending this freedom. On the contrary, they are trying to take it away. That is why so many of us support him, including those (like myself) who would be happy to accommodate transgender students, though I would accommodate them with gender neutral pronouns (‘you’) or proper names, not ugly neologisms. As a Professor of English, I would also hold a grammatical line by insisting that ‘their’ is a plural, not a singular.

      John Leonard

      • SD

        Hi Dr. Leonard,

        Thank you for your thoughtful response — it gave me pause to think, and I do appreciate hearing from you. I also agree with you that compromise is possible and I hope that future debate and conversation steers towards this, rather than towards general polarization.

        I think my final response to this thread would be that I agree with you about Dr. Peterson’s ambiguity of imposing traditional pronouns on transgender students. I do think this is vital not just morally, but to the consistency of his own argument. Also, thank you for clarifying that the emphasis of his argument is against legislating language — I agree with this at first, but cannot advocate a firm stance on yet. (My initial thoughts tend towards an empirical approach, where we can measure the effect of language on an individual — Google ‘stereotype threat’, which is very interesting. However, even this has its shortcomings.) It would seem important, then, to examine the usefulness of legislating language in general, and also to separately examine the proposed model of transgender pronouns WITH the transgender community — not against, or separate, from it. I would hope that we view the issue more accurately to resolve it.

        Sincerest regards,

        P.S. This is my final post, as I do not want to clutter Dr. Peterson’s website. Thank you for your debate! It clarified the arguments for me.

    • Max Zogheib

      -> “an argument of aesthetics”

      This is the most crucial part of your statement. It’s precisely because it is an argument in aesthetics that it has no business being legislated. And that is both the strongest position and essential solution to the whole debate. It is also the simplest explanation to Dr. Peterson’s position in my interpretation.

      You have to understand – history teaches us, that forced social development never works. Throughout history we see minority groups attempting to establish morality systems and social structures, pushing exclusive value systems onto major populations; and it always backfires. It can take decades to degrade (like the USSR), or lead to a massive explosion of violence (Nazism), however it always causes untold extraneous suffering along the way. Granted, these are extreme cases, but the mechanisms and consequences are essentially the same. Such structures always ultimately fail. Even China, the most successful attempt at establishing a forced social structure, is experiencing a massive shift towards natural social regulation.

      Furthermore, social change is inevitable. If the adoption of non gender binary constructs is crucial to a functioning society going forward – they will be adopted naturally. Yes, the ideas will be challenged, as all ideas are and must be, but if they truly have any merit – the research and rationale will follow suit.

      -> “The categorizations will implicitly exist, whether you like them or not.”

      Nobody is disputing the fact that to some people they do. However, just because someone has an idea, one should not automatically expect that idea to be either relevant to society or respected by other individuals. Respect isn’t given, it has to be earned. The value of a viewpoint has to be proven. With gender fluidity that has not yet been done.

      Also, one does not go about earning respect by demanding it. This is a path to further alienation, if anything.

      -> “however, you fail to acknowledge or even suppose that your views may constitute an ideology as well”

      This would likely have been the hardest to argue against statement that you made, if you hadn’t misapplied the terminology. An ideology is dogmatic and allows no room for debate. Dr. Peterson is, on the contrary, inviting debate on the subject, as has openly been stated no multiple occasions. Moreover, it is precisely the attempt at silencing discussion that Dr. Peterson is rallying against. This is only an argument about gender identity by proxy, and is very nearly beside the point.

      I hope this interpretation helps somewhat.

      • SD

        Hi Max,

        Thanks for your thoughts and your interpretation did help. I would contest your views on ‘earning respect’ (from whom, why, and has this always historically been the case?) and your definition and application of ideology, as I do believe Dr. Peterson’s arguments can be categorized as such by most dictionary definitions, and also that his opposition doesn’t favour debate — any reasonable person in his opposition (such as myself) would favour debate (although I assume this trait would vary independently along the debate spectrum).

        I agree with your thoughts on aesthetics — found them interesting that they are, in essence, both a cause and a solution. This is my final post, but I did spend more time on my response to Dr. Leonard’s above. Thanks for the debate!

        Sincerest regards,

        • Brandy

          Excellent discussion, both of you, and thanks for the thoughtful and careful anaylsis – I believe that Dr. Peterson’s career-long study of totalitarian systems, alongside his myriad of course videos, thoroughly lay out his position of having a moderate, flexible and respectful approach and i do not see any way to classify him as an idealogue. If you view the various videos online which clearly define the words and actions of Dr. Peterson and that of his opponents you will see a marked contrast to the way he discourses with them, and how they both react and communicate back to him. There is respect and restraint on his part and all his passion goes into his arguments, which he backs up with historic and scientific data. There is much emotionalism. reactive lack of respect, and a distinct dirth of scientific data in their rebuttals. Draw your conclusions as you will, from these video examples.

          • ben

            Agreed Brandy. An ideologue would be someone who blindly follows a codified set of beliefs. Like someone who only believes the “party line” whether that’s a political perspective or a religious one. It’s not someone who has their own ideas per se. Usually it’s a rigid systematic oversimplification of the world. Marxism for example compresses people only into class and labour functionality identities. It ignores the human spirit.

  • S Sam

    Prof. Peterson — I’m surprised Bros. Karamazov didn’t make the shortlist.

    I wonder if there are any films you feel would be a useful complement to this reading list?

    • Adam Parker

      I would also be very curious as to a recommended viewing list. My personal Reading List has just gone from STAR WARS: THRAWN by Timothy Zahn to every damn thing that J.B.P. recommends, plus many of the titles that those posting here have added as well.

  • Damon

    Hi Dr. Peterson,

    I would really appreciate it if you would find the time to explain the deeper meaning of some of the books in a video. I know you mentioned most of these in interviews and in your Maps of Meaning Lectures but you did not really go into detail on most of these.
    I have already read some of these – mostly the dystopian ones – and 1984 and Brave New World already fascinated me beyond any expectations, that is why I would really be glad to have you give your interpretations on them so that I can get a better grasp on them.

    The same would go for Nietzsche’s Thus Said Zarathustra, which is not on your list but I have seen you talk about on numerous occasions, for example in your discussion with John Vervaeke you described the three transformations of the soul (camel, lion, child) and then talked about how Jung thinks about that.
    If you could upload a video dedicated to that I think that would be awesome!

    Best Regards from Germany, may your voice reach even more people.

    • Max Zogheib

      I find that the deeper meaning of great philosophical works is in the eye of the beholder. While another’s interpretation might be both fascinating and insightful in it’s own right, their true value is teased out when we apply the propositions contained within to our own, often privately held, systems of values and morality. It is best not to depend on someone’s opinion in the hopes that it will help you make more sense going in. And afterwards open up discussion (i.e. “think aloud”) to test and correct your assumptions based on external criticism.

      However Nietzsche’s, Jung’s, Dostoevsky’s and especially Solzhenitsyn’s works are highly referential, so a certain level of historical erudition is required to fully grasp the circumstances surrounding their writing.


      P.S.: I hope I am not intruding on the format of the blog by opening up discussion.

  • Kaiton

    I would really appreciate it if you would find the time to explain the deeper meaning of some of the books in a video. I know you mentioned most of these in interviews and in your Maps of Meaning Lectures but you did not really go into detail on most of these.
    I have already read some of these – mostly the dystopian ones – and 1984 and Brave New World already fascinated me beyond any expectations, that is why I would really be glad to have you give your interpretations on them so that I can get a better grasp on them.

    The same would go for Nietzsche’s Thus Said Zarathustra, which is not on your list but I have seen you talk about on numerous occasions, for example in your discussion with John Vervaeke you described the three transformations of the soul (camel, lion, child) and then talked about how Jung thinks about that.
    If you could upload a video dedicated to that I think that would be awesome!

    Best Regards from Germany, may your voice reach even more people.

  • Henri

    Thanks for this, it’s exactly the kind of thing I was looking for after listening to some of your lectures online 🙂

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  • K Hampson

    RE: Translation

    Hi Dr. Peterson. Could you please recommend a translation of Crime and Punishment? I would very much appreciate it.

    • K Hampson

      I note that you link to the Constance Garnett translation (which is the one I’m inclined towards, since it’s apparently the classic – though I’ve read that some of the newer ones are subtler and more accurate); shall I take this as a recommendation of C.G.’s translation?

    • I think Constance Garnett’s translation is fine. There is a newer translation, by Oliver Ready, which has received excellent reviews:

      • Max Zogheib

        I am Russian/English bilingual and have read the original and both translations. In my opinion, Oliver Ready is by far superior. Some subtleties are invariably lost due to cultural and linguistic differences, but it’s one of the most solid translations I’ve ever read of any work in terms of capturing the original intended experience.

      • Atena

        I have read Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky’s translation, which I think is very good! I read Garnett’s translation for Crime and Punishment. I think all three did a good job.

  • John leonard

    Dear Professor Peterson,

    As a fellow professor (a near neighbour, at the University of Western Ontario) I have been following the headlines about you with great interest. I have yet to see one question answered or even asked (apologies if you have answered it in some forum I have missed). My question is this:

    Are you refusing to use neologism pronouns you do not wish to use (for whatever reasons, personal or political) or do you go further and insist on applying the traditional pronouns to students whether they like it or not? For me this is a crucial question that will decide just how much support I am willing to give you.

    My position: I unequivocally applaud your insistence on your right not to have other people’s jargon forced down your speaking throat. On the other hand, my support for you would start to ebb if you insist on forcing unwanted pronouns into the ears of students who do not wish to be referred to in traditional terms. It seems to me that there is a middle ground: the use of the (ungendered) second person pronoun ‘you’ or (better still) the use of proper names. This middle ground seems to have been lost in all the brou-ha-ha. So just what is your position? I have heard only that you refuse to be anyone’s puppet (no argument there–I wholeheartedly applaud). But do you go further and insist on imposing traditional pronouns on students who do not want to be designated by them? A crucial distinction in my view.

    John Leonard, FRSC
    Distinguished University Professor
    University of Western Ontario

    • Hi Professor Leonard,

      I’m Julian Peterson (Jordan’s son & moderator of his blog), I think I can answer your question (although I don’t presume to speak for my dad).

      The position that he is taking isn’t to insist on calling someone by a pronoun that they don’t wish to be referred by.

      He is resisting the legislation that requires individuals to respond to other people in a particular way (by their preferred pronoun, in this case). He doesn’t think that the words that people use should be legislated.

      The “right not to have other people’s jargon forced down your speaking throat” is exactly what he is trying to protect. Nothing more (as far as I know).

      Thanks for your question! I hope I answered it sufficiently and correctly.

      • John Leonard

        Dear Julian,

        Thank you for the prompt and very clear reply. It would be wonderful if I could hear this response (the gist at least) in your father’s own words, at least with his name appended, since it really is a deal-breaker for my support.

        If Professor Jordan Peterson wants nothing more than to keep A. N. Other’s vocabulary and ideology out of his own mouth, I am with him to the death. If he wants to impose his pronouns (even if they are ones I use too, as they probably are) on other people, then my sympathies shift. It is a very simple issue for me. I am for freedom and privacy, regardless of the ideology. I also think it is possible to have an irenic compromise (with proper names and ungendered second person pronouns, as I mentioned earlier). I am opposed to whichever voice (possibly both, right or left) is opposing this obvious, common sense compromise.

        All best wishes,

        John Leonard

        PS You are blessed to have Rex Murphy on your side

    • Eric

      What if I reject your middle ground? What if I’m only satisfied by being called The Supreme God? Or the content from the entire first page of Finnegans Wake? Or the entire book?

      At what point does this behavior become narcissistic? Why is this part of the world so concerned with pronouns? Is this necessary? Do we know what we are dealing with? Where are the studies on the mental health of those who make the demand? Isn’t there an underlying issue that should be addressed instead?

      Should we legislate language to accommodate EVERYONE’s complaints? Or only certain groups? Who decides which?

      I’m offended by a lot of things in this world. But I don’t make “my feelings” the basis for restricting everyone’s freedom.

  • Scott Montgomery

    Great reading list! I have been watching – and enjoying – your ‘Maps of Meaning’ lectures online. The ‘Black Book of Communism’ (edited by Stephane Courtois et al) would make an excellent addition to your list. It catalogs the atrocities of communism using evidence/data from the archives of USSR, PRC etc.

  • Daniel E Niles

    Thank you! I was one of the individuals requesting a book list! this is great!

  • Derek

    Saw your interview with Roaming Millennial. I appreciate the book list. You’re doing a great job fighting against this new wave of cultural Marxism.

  • Judy

    Being There by Jersey Kosinski is also great, book and film.

  • Judy

    I’ll add Fahrenheit 451 as well. Brave New World and 1984 are favorites. It’s a young book, but Lord Of The Flies is always relevant.
    Thank you for seeing how insane the Social justice warrior maniacs are. I posted a link to an article about you to my blog. You’re my new hero.

  • John

    Dr Peterson, you are a champion of modern times in a very significant struggle. There are millions of people who stand to benefit from you taking this stand on the gender issue. Be encouraged, you are well appreciated by the silent majority as you eloquently articulate these views against the PC control!

  • Joseph

    A very good list, I have a few of these books already. I agree with Renate’s comment in that Fahrenheit 451 would’ve made an excellent addition to the list, a fantastic novel on totalitarianism and dystopian society. I’ll be sure to pick up some more of these later on when I have the time.

  • Magdalena Zareba

    Dr Peterson,
    You are doing a very good job. It’s very important for the people in a western countries to wake up if they don’t want to have the new Soviet Union. I’m 40 now living in Poland, so I guess I’m the last generation in my country to experience and to remember the comunist regime (maybe not the hardest time) and at the same time to experience life in freedom country.
    I’ve already read: Brave New World, 1984 as well as the Crime and Punishment. But for me the best book which tells something about life in Soviet Union before the II war is a masterpiece Master and Margarita by Bukgakov or Diaboliad the good example of story about man vs system.
    The thing is that we know something about totalitarist systems. I can share with you the most incredible true story about Polish hero Witold Pilecki. He was a polish soldier who voluntiered to be catched by Natzis and to go to Concentration camp in Aushwitz, because at that time at 1942 or something the world did not know what was in there. He managed to survive there for two years, he created the secret organisation to act against Natzis. And then he managed to escape and send the messages about the horror that wad going on in that camp. Later on the comunist regime caught him, called him a traitor, torture him and then killed him. To this day no one knows when they buried him. In prison he told his wife that Aushwitz was a playground comparing to the comunist imprisonment.
    So I hope that these things will nit happen again

  • Renate Meijer

    I’d like to propose some additions:
    – Lingua Tertii Imperii (Victor Klemperer) How the Nazi’s abused language to further their ends.
    – Das Totenschiff (B. Traven) About loss of identity
    – Slaughterhouse 5 (Kurt Vonnegut) How individuals get stripped of their humanity
    – A Clockwork Orange.(Anthony Burgess) (self explanatory)
    – Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) The empty sociertty. A prophecy.

    But after all that misery, do not forget to laugh. It feeds your soul.

  • d3bug

    Keep up the hard fight for freedom. Great list of terrifying books, I’ve finished 1 and 2, and currently reading 4. 1984 was extremely influential in my intellectual development and started my understanding in the continually PC world. I think that you are right on the nose about biology in the target of the PC religion, I come from a biology, chemistry background so I, for the most part, observed the start of the PC from behind a glass window. I did however have some friends in liberal arts that had to contort their brain into a special double speak to express the ideology. In my opinion, the first two books should be required reading for high school students (especially 1984).
    I want to thank you for seeking truth in your conversations and challenging people to think and develop their critical thinking.

  • M

    Dr. Peterson,

    Could you tell us a bit about your personal emblem? I’m referring to the multi-coloured fractal image you have as your avatar and, I believe, a giant poster of in your home. Based on the little I’ve read and seen of you and your work, I know of fractals as one of many symbols of truth and the nature of reality — it’s very Godel, Escher and Bach I’d say. 🙂

    • It’s a sculpture I made on 1985 called The Meaning of Music. It’s a multidimensional mandala.

  • Justin Nicholas

    Hi Dr. Peterson,

    I champion the actions you have taken to defend our basic human right to free speech. I only recently heard about your blog and research through YouTube, and hope to continue following you on your research and endeavors.

  • Travis

    I’ve been closely following you, and the stories revolving around you since I saw your speech on Youtube. During an interview I watched today you plugged in your website and these list of recommended books for people to educate themselves.

    Thank you for posting this list. I remember reading Brave New World back in my senior year of high school, and how “triggered” it made me. It’s kind of funny to me how a book I picked to read on a whim could be so influential.

    Anyway, thank you again for this list, and your work. Keep fighting the good and honest fight Dr. Peterson.