10 Books About Nihilism (Existentialist Philosophy)

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. Whether the claim is that morals or morality is unjustifiable or that life is meaningless now. If you want to read books on Nihilism, keep reading.

10 Books About Nihilism

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 popular 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 review the most read books about Nihilism.

1. The Stranger

It is a French classic that 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, or maybe you relate to it, or you 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 in the now, and then when we die, we’re done. His mother has passed away. It becomes a huge 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 this book 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 of these different people. It didn’t matter what you did because life would be exactly how it was, and you didn’t have any control over it. So in hindsight, knowing that and thinking about the novel makes it more interesting.

The Stranger

Author: Albert Camus
Average Customer Review: (4.6 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Classic Literature, Best Seller in French Literature
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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 the 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 parents’ 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 fleshes out for the novel. The book isn’t sold on its plot. I enjoyed more of 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 the 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.

Fathers and Sons

Author: Ivan Turgenev
Average Customer Review: (4.4 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Russian Literature
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3. Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment were 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 in this world should commit crimes with impunity. He thinks that he might be one of those people.

Most of the novel takes place after this crime that he has committed and is concerned with the aftermath 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 all the time, 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.

Crime and Punishment

Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Average Customer Review: (4.4 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Crime Action & Adventure
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

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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’re in control of the narrative we assign ourselves and our lives.

Interestingly, the end of this book 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 be nothingness begins with a discussion of negation, how negation is entering the world, and negation comes from the 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.

Being and Nothingness

Author: Jean-Paul Sartre
Average Customer Review: (4.6 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Philosophy Criticism, Existentialist Philosophy
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5. The Trouble With Being Born

It is difficult to talk about, even though it is not the most serious book. It comes very close to the Needlestick Brown book of 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 very lonely, sad, and 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 on the theme that destroys the foundations of time. It is time about 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 completely depraved.

The Trouble With Being Born

Author: E. M. Cioran
Average Customer Review: (4.5 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: 20th Century Literary Criticism
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Kindle

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6. The Brothers Karamazov

So many characters help structure this book and the theme of like 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 hedonists. 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. The formal name is Alexy, and he is a young novice, which means that he is training to be a priest. So he is a stark contrast to his other brothers. Also, he’s someone who 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.

The Brothers Karamazov

Author: Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Average Customer Review: (4.3 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Victorian Literary Criticism
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7. Notes from Underground

This book 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, then this book is a must-read.

Notes from Underground

Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
Average Customer Review: (4.5 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Classic Literature & Fiction
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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 some 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 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 the question are you living your life waiting for God out? It’s an interesting metaphor because you can think of life and hell, and all these things got everything in so many different ways. This is one way to represent it.

Waiting for Godot

Author: Samuel Beckett
Average Customer Review: (4.5 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Globalization & Politics, Best Seller in Absurdist Fiction
Available: Paperback | Kindle

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9. Fight Club

This book 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, and he finds solace in these support groups and gets all of 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, the relationship between the narrator and 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.

Fight Club

Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Average Customer Review: (4.7 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Self-Help & Psychology Humor
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

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10. Great Ideas Myth of Sisyphus

Sisyphus was a figure in Greek mythology in which God punished him 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 this book, 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.

Great Ideas Myth of Sisyphus

Author: Albert Camus
Average Customer Review: (4.7 out of 5, on Amazon)
Category: Philosophy of Ethics & Morality, Best Seller in Existentialist Philosophy
Available: eTextbook | Paperback | Hardcover

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Read more: 10 Most Difficult Philosophy Books To Read

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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