10 Existentialism Books About Nihilism

Existentialist Philosophy Books

Nihilism believes that claims about what is good or the meaning of life cannot be justified and that these beliefs should lead us to negative actions. It’s not merely the noncognitive, and it’s claimed that statements about good and bad are nonsense.

Nihilism is as much an invention of literature. This literary origin means that Nihilism is not as clearly defined as some philosophies and may have one of two closely associated meanings depending on the context. The claim is morals or morality is unjustifiable or that life is meaningless now. Reading books about Nihilism allows you to engage with deep philosophical questions and explore different perspectives on life’s fundamental aspects.

10 Books About Nihilism

Nihilism is a philosophical position that examines the nature of existence, meaning, and values. Day by day, religion faces a crisis, and people try to think out of the box and understand the meaning of life. So the nihilism category book will be famous among the new generation. If you want to learn about life from a different point of view, then these books are for you. Let’s start to discuss the most-read books about Nihilism.

1. The Stranger

This French classic follows a guy named Marceaux. At the beginning of the book, he’s going through the paces. He’s living his life, not caring too much about anything. Then in the middle of the book, the main character murders an Arab. Then it follows him during his trial and all of that. The main character is the most stereotypical existentialist that you’ll probably come across. So this book is pretty polarizing.

You either find it interesting, relate to it, or hate it because it challenges society’s assumption of morality and everything like that. It’s also a bit depressing if you think about it when you’re coming from a religious standpoint.

Then you read this book where Marceaux completely believes that we’re here now, and when we die, we’re done. His mother has passed away. It becomes a massive deal in the novel, but he doesn’t get emotionally invested in that process. Also, it throws people off because the norm is to get upset and be inconsolable.

So the whole style of The Stranger was well done and very conscious. It’s very existentialist. This novel was written to reflect the society in occupied areas during World War Two, where Germany occupied all these different people. It didn’t matter what you did because life would be exactly how it was, and you had no control over it. So in hindsight, knowing that and thinking about the novel makes it more interesting.

Author: Albert Camus
Average Rating: 4.6/5
Category: Classic Literature, Best Seller in French Literature
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle


2. Fathers and Sons

Ivan Turgenev was considered the most famous Russian author of his time. Fathers and Sons are considered Turgenev’s greatest work. It was published in 1862, a year after the Emancipation of the Serfs, which was a huge moment in Russian history. The peasant population was massive. Above them was a rigid aristocracy. It is set in 1859 on the Eve of Emancipation when everyone knows it’s about to happen.

One of the most relatable books centered around Posadas, a nihilist. The book even solidified the cultural understanding of what a nihilist is and what Nihilism means. So Bizzaro represents a youth movement in Russia at a very famous time. They railed against the crumbling political and cultural institutions of Russia. They were very cynical, outspoken, and rude.

The book has three hubs that the characters move between Arkady Kirschner’s parents’ home, Baza Ahrefs’s parent’s home, and the home of a wealthy widow landowner who lives in a town they visit. It is cruel, compassionate, funny, pathetic, and cathartic.

At the beginning of the novel, Bizzaro is unbearable. He is too rude, and it’s awkward. His character is fleshed out for the novel. The book isn’t sold on its plot. I enjoyed more the intricacies of the relationships between all characters.

It is rooted in a particular time in the history of Russia. The generation of these fathers came of age in their eighteen forties, and the generation of the sons in the sixties is famous within the Russian context. This novel begs the question of which generation is right. It was a controversial book of its time. So if you’ve read this, I hope you liked it as much as I did.

Author: Ivan Turgenev
Average Rating: 4.4/5
Category: Russian Literature
Available: Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

3. Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment was originally published in 1866. It has six parts and an epilogue. The story follows Raskolnikov, a young man who used to be a student, who plans to murder an elderly pawnbroker. He has a theory, belief, and idea that people should commit crimes with impunity. He thinks that he might be one of those people.

Most of the novel takes place after his crime, and he is concerned with the aftermath and the psychological consequences for him. His increasingly peculiar behavior affects those around him and draws the attention of the police, especially Detective Porfiry.

There’s a lot to think about, and it goes into a lot of depth. It delves very deeply into Raskolnikov’s thoughts. It’s a style that requires a certain amount of patience. The rhythm and the flow fluctuate throughout the book depending on the characters and Raskolnikov’s state of mind. There are a lot of great complex characters and great complex ideas to enjoy. It explores morality, humanity, and philosophy.

Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Average Rating: 4.4/5
Category: Crime Action & Adventure
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

4. Being and Nothingness

We create meaning in our lives. There is an entire putoff argument here about why we are the creators of meaning and not why meaning is presupposed in our existence. It’s good to realize that we control the narrative we assign ourselves and our lives.

Interestingly, the end of ”Being And Nothingness” addresses some of the most limiting things about existence, such as death, birth, and language, that we don’t have control over. These things do not limit our freedom as well. So is nothingness begins with a discussion of negation, how negation enters the world, and negation comes from empty nothingness. So that argues that we are the ones who introduced negation to the world, are conscious existence. We are conscious existence introduces this idea of nothingness into the world.

Are conscious beings introducing negation into the world that allows us to be free? Freedom, for a start, is the freedom to make meaning in our lives. So the way that the author understands freedom is through the idea of projects. He talks mentally about writing the book and explaining the idea of projects and how we understand the world through these projects.

Author: Jean-Paul Sartre
Average Rating: 4.6/5
Category: Philosophy Criticism, Existentialist Philosophy
Available: Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

5. The Trouble With Being Born

This most serious book comes close to the Needlestick Brown book On the Heights of Despair. It is a good starting point for somebody who’s not yet familiar with his philosophy in real fighting. So when you compare it with On the Heights of Despair, this book is a very light and practical read. The book has a lot of complex ideas and values that you may or may not agree with. It is 200 pages of aphorisms, highlighting what it means exactly to be human and not to be.

The author sketched a lonely, sad, poetic landscape of human existence. He forces you to tighten the grip of a strangled life. The isolation and emptiness of existence and the fruitful nothingness of it. So the effects of catharsis for a human being will feel it only after the storm passes. All that occurs before the tragedy is somehow full of anticipation and unease.

The Trouble with Being Born is one of those books about destroying the foundations of time. It is time for your past, present or future, and so on. What John does is he contains embedded humanity in a shell, and only so he can eventually and blatantly be us every corner of that shell. He’s not concerned with what is spilling out. So as long as the reader is aware of the fruitful nothingness until you reach that goal, a state of consciousness from which the self is entirely depraved.

Author: E. M. Cioran
Average Rating: (4.5 /5)
Category: 20th-Century Literary Criticism
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Kindle

6. The Brothers Karamazov

Many characters help structure ”The Brothers Karamazov” and the theme of doubt and compassion, good and evil. The three brothers at the center of this novel are opposite is other. Fyodor Karamazov, and the oldest son, Dimitri, is a hedonist. He is a sensualist that enjoys gambling, women, and alcohol, but he believes in God. So he constantly has this conflict internally. Also, he believes that maybe he can be saved or he’s wholly debased, and there’s no hope.

The middle son, Ivan, is the most intelligent character in the book. He is a student, and he is seen as an atheist. He writes articles that are debates about religion. It’s hard to tell what he feels. He believes in God, but he denounces God because God allows horrible suffering to continue on Earth, even though he has the power to fix that. So this character is also got great conflict in him as well.

The third is the youngest son, Alyosha. His formal name is Alexy, and he is a young novice, meaning he is training to be a priest. So he is a stark contrast to his other brothers. Also, he doesn’t live in la-la land about his faith. He sees this great suffering in the world. In this book, you have intense suffering, debasement, and cruelty. So, this book is very meaty in terms of philosophy.

Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Average Rating: 4.3/5
Category: Victorian Literary Criticism
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

7. Notes from Underground

Notes from Underground was first published in 1984. It has 120 pages full of philosophy, and there’s no plot. It is about an underground man who never addresses himself by name. The book starts with him, and he’s been underground for ages. He’s stuck in his consciousness and doesn’t participate in society. It’s the philosophizing that is hard to read. But you read the paragraphs, and you understand it makes sense. But like two pages later, you can’t remember what mental connection brought you to where you were.

There were some interesting passages in that bit about determinism, and that’s how people relate to each other. These are the events that led him to go underground. He can’t help but want to be drawn to being around people and being accepted in society. But he keeps describing himself as a horrible and critical person. So if you want to read something uncommon personality, this book is a must-read.

Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Category: Classic Literature & Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

8. Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett. He wrote it originally in French in 1948. These two guys, Vladimir and Estragon, meet under a tree and have trouble with their boots. Then they realize they’re both waiting for Godot. Then these two guys are lucky to arrive by a stranger who pretends to be a horse. This strange messenger comes with a message from God saying that God isn’t coming today, that he’s coming tomorrow, and that he will be there tomorrow.

The whole book and the events are a metaphor for life. You’re waiting for God, and he never comes, and that’s the point. God never comes because God wants you to figure out your stuff. So life isn’t something that you do. Life is something that happens to you if you wait long enough. This book will wake up some people who think this way.

So, in the end, all that remains is whether you are living your life waiting for God out. It’s an interesting metaphor because you can think of life and hell, and everything got everything in so many different ways. This is one way to represent it.

Author: Samuel Beckett
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Category: Globalization & Politics, Best Seller in Absurdist Fiction
Available: Paperback | Kindle

9. Fight Club

Fight Club was first published in 1996, and there are 221 pages. The main character or protagonist in the book is the narrator, who never has a name. The narrator has insomnia from his job, which forces him to travel a lot. He’s on planes all the time.

So he has to cure his insomnia. He goes to support groups for people with cancer or different diseases, finds solace in these support groups, and gets all his emotions out. All of a sudden, he can sleep like a baby. His insomnia is cured! Then Marla Singer turns up, and he views her as a tourist. She doesn’t have these diseases, and she’s along for the ride, which he’s doing.

The story is about how the fight club progresses and the relationship between the narrator, Tyler Durden, and Marla Singer. This book has surprises and twists. They help add pace and structure, giving the reader a lyrical quality. The themes in the story suit the visual medium.

Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: Self-Help & Psychology Humor
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

10. Great Ideas Myth of Sisyphus

Sisyphus was a figure in Greek mythology which God punished by forcing him to fundamentally lift a boulder for the rest of his life for all eternity. So this boulder is a metaphor for the human condition. Camus suggests that humans are in Sisyphus’s position, holding up this boulder when it will eventually fall upon their death.

In Great Ideas Myth of Sisyphus, Camus is the term that is now thoroughly used in existential philosophy. The term absurd or absurdism is fundamentally the proposition that life because there on our objective values or there is no objective reason to live. This idea has a lot of links to Nihilism.

Life doesn’t have an objective motivation for a human to live. But that doesn’t mean humans can’t make meaning in their lives. This is where nihilism and absurdism root differently. One of the good points about this book is that it is timeless to have such abstract ideas written down in the mid-nineteen hundreds.

Author: Albert Camus
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: Philosophy of Ethics & Morality, Best Seller in Existentialist Philosophy
Available: eTextbook | Paperback | Hardcover

Nihilism Books For Beginners

What to read to understand Nihilism? To gain a better understanding of Nihilism, there are some books and philosophical texts you can read. Here are some suggestions:

The Will to Power by Friedrich Nietzsche: In this posthumously published work, Nietzsche explores the concept of Nihilism and critiques traditional values and beliefs.

The Stranger by Albert Camus: This novel tells the story of a man who, due to his nihilistic beliefs, is detached from society and commits a senseless crime.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche: This philosophical novel follows the journey of a prophet who preaches the idea of the “death of God” and the rise of the Ubermensch, or Superman.

Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky: This novella explores the mind of a bitter and isolated man who rejects society’s values and embraces Nihilism.

The Conspiracy Against the Human Race by Thomas Ligotti: This philosophical work explores Nihilism from a horror writer’s perspective and argues that the human experience is inherently flawed and meaningless.

Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre: This essay explains existentialism. This philosophical perspective is often associated with Nihilism, arguing that humans must create meaning in a meaningless world.

These are a few examples of books that explore Nihilism. Reading different works and perspectives can help you better understand this complex philosophical perspective.

Optimistic Nihilism Books

Optimistic Nihilism is a perspective that suggests that life has no inherent meaning but that this lack of meaning can be liberating rather than depressing. Here are some books that explore this perspective:

The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus: In this philosophical essay, Camus argues that the absurdity of life is not a reason for despair but rather an invitation to create our meaning and purpose.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl: This autobiographical work explores Frankl’s experiences as a prisoner in Nazi concentration camps and argues that even in the direst circumstances, anyone can find meaning and purpose in life.

The Antidote – Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman: This self-help book challenges the idea that positivity is the key to happiness and suggests that accepting the lack of meaning in life can lead to greater freedom and joy.

The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan Watts: In this philosophical work, Watts explores the self-concept and argues that our sense of individual identity is ultimately illusory.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig: This philosophical novel tells the story of a motorcycle trip across the United States and explores the idea that pursuing meaning and purpose can be a form of self-destruction.

These books offer different perspectives on optimistic Nihilism and can help readers explore the potential freedom and joy that can come from embracing the lack of inherent meaning in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the most famous nihilist?

A German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), is associated with Nihilism. He’s arguably the most famous person linked to this philosophical perspective and is also known as the founder of Nihilism.

Nietzsche’s works explored the concept of Nihilism, particularly the idea that traditional values and beliefs, including religious and moral ones, have lost their meaning and purpose in modern society. However, Nietzsche himself was not strictly a nihilist. He used the concept to critique and analyze culture and to propose alternative ways of living and thinking.

Is it ok to be nihilistic?

Nihilism is the belief that life has no inherent meaning, purpose, or value. At the same time, some people may find comfort in Nihilism’s lack of expectations and embrace its sense of freedom. It can also lead to existential despair and nihilistic tendencies, potentially leading to apathy, hopelessness, and destructive behavior.

There are different forms of Nihilism, and some may be more harmful than others. For example, moral Nihilism suggests that moral principles and values are baseless, while epistemological Nihilism posits that knowledge is impossible. Nihilistic beliefs can be challenging and uncomfortable. So, seeking support and guidance is essential if you become overwhelmed or begin to impact your daily life. Ultimately, whether it’s “okay” to be nihilistic is a matter of personal perspective and opinion.

What are the four types of Nihilism?

There are different types of Nihilism that philosophers and scholars have identified. Here are four of the most common types:

Epistemological Nihilism: This type of Nihilism asserts that knowledge is impossible and that we cannot know anything. Epistemological nihilists argue that even our most basic assumptions about reality may be incorrect.

Moral Nihilism: This type argues that moral values and principles are baseless and meaningless. Moral nihilists contend that there are no objective moral truths or standards and that all moral claims are ultimately arbitrary.

Existential Nihilism: This type of Nihilism suggests that life has no inherent meaning or purpose. Existential nihilists argue that the universe is indifferent to human existence. Any attempts to find meaning or significance are ultimately futile.

Political Nihilism: This type rejects all existing political and social institutions, arguing that they are fundamentally flawed and corrupt. Political nihilists may advocate for radical social or political change or believe nothing can be done to improve current affairs.
It’s important to note that these different types of Nihilism are interconnected and that it is a complex and multifaceted philosophical perspective.

What is God in Nihilism?

In Nihilism, the concept of God may hold different meanings depending on the individual’s perspective. Some nihilists may reject the idea of God entirely, seeing it as a mere human invention without any objective basis or value. Others may use the concept of God to illustrate the limitations of human knowledge and the fundamental ambiguity of existence.

For some nihilists, the death of God is an important idea, suggesting that traditional religious and moral values are no longer viable in modern society. Friedrich Nietzsche famously proclaimed the “death of God” in his works, arguing that traditional morality and religion had lost meaning and purpose in modern life. So, the concept of God in Nihilism challenges traditional beliefs and values and questions the fundamental assumptions underlying human existence.


These books about Nihilism can be intellectually stimulating. They can give you insights into the complexities of human existence and life purpose.

Read more similar:

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Philosophy Books Like Man’s Search For Meaning

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Pauline Jackson

I like to talk about popular books. My book review inspires you to read and save time. Also, I summarize the book and give you the best lessons or ideas that can change your life. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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