7 Best Nietzsche Books Update 05/2022

Nietzsche Books

Friedrich Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher who, even though he wasn’t read during his own (sane) lifetime, has become one of the most important thinkers in popular culture today. Nietzsche is known for his dazzling and sometimes controversial turns of phrase, such as his declaration that God is dead. His reputation in the English-speaking world is now arguably the highest it has ever been, and his place in philosophy’s canon looks safe.

As a result, Nietzsche and his works were taken care of by his sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, who was an anti-Semite. This wasn’t always the case. In the end, Elisabeth turned Nietzsche’s unfinished works into a bloody call to arms for nationalist Germany. This was the blueprint for Hitler and his “superior” Aryan race. For a long time, then, Nietzsche’s ideas were thought to be the same as those of Nazism.

Elisabeth’s tampering was revealed, as well as letters and other works that show Nietzsche’s strong opposition to nationalism and anti-Semitism. His character has since been changed and his ideas have been rethought. Even though Nietzsche’s philosophy has become more popular again, many people still don’t understand, misread, or misapply it. People from all walks of life and politics still do this.

So, what did Nietzsche think? I don’t know, that’s still a question. Nietzsche isn’t like other philosophers in that he doesn’t really tell us what he thinks, which makes him different from most. It isn’t just that he challenges a lot of our beliefs, but that he does so in a ferocious and sometimes hilarious way. He doesn’t teach us what to think so much as how to think. “There are no facts, only interpretations.”

This is a list of the best and most important books to read if you want to learn more about Nietzsche and his interesting philosophy. It’s a mix of both primary and secondary literature, because even though Nietzsche’s words are always fun to read on their own, they are most powerful when put in context by scholars who have spent their lives studying him.

I Am Dynamite! By Sue Prideaux

I Am Dynamite By Sue Prideaux

Nietzsche is the subject of this book. Sue Prideaux’s I Am Dynamite! won the Times Biography of the Year award in 2019. It’s a vivid, myth-busting picture of one of history’s most misunderstood philosophers. Prideaux explains all the events that shaped Nietzsche’s thinking, as well as his heartbreaking descent into madness, in a way that makes them clear to everyone.

Introduction to Nietzsche and His 5 Greatest Ideas, by Philosophy Break

If you want to learn more about Nietzsche’s philosophy than just his biography, then the 2022 Introduction to Nietzsche and His 5 Greatest Ideas is for you. It’s designed to help you learn everything you need to know about the brilliant philosopher in just six days. Nietzsche’s best and most misunderstood ideas, from God is dead to the Übermensch, are summarized in this short course. The materials are sent to your inbox, and you can access them at any time from any device. If you want to learn the basics of Nietzsche’s best ideas, understand what he was trying to say, and find out why he’s so important, then Introduction to Nietzsche and His 5 Greatest Ideas might be just what you need. We made this one, so we’re a little biased.

Beyond Good & Evil, by Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche tried to sum up his own philosophy in his book Beyond Good and Evil in 1886. This is a good place to start for people who want to read more of Nietzsche’s actual writings. As always, Nietzsche writes with flair and sharpness. He also talks about morality and how it came to be. Nietzsche also talks about the dangers and failures of objective thinking, as well as how we can overcome mediocrity and suffering to become who we truly are.

On the Genealogy of Morals, by Friedrich Nietzsche

On the Genealogy of Morals, by Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche wrote On the Genealogy of Morals in 1887, right after Beyond Good and Evil. It’s thought to be his best work. In it, Nietzsche develops and explains ideas only cryptically explored in earlier works, laying out his thoughts in an accessible, highly readable tripartite essay form. This is the end of Nietzsche’s writing in prose. It talks about goodness, “evil,” guilt, bad conscience, as well as ascetic ideals and the meaning of life. It’s worth reading again and again for anyone who wants to learn more about Nietzsche’s work.

Thus Spoke Zarathustra, by Friedrich Nietzsche

If On the Genealogy of Morals is the culmination of Nietzsche’s thought as prose, then his 1885 philosophical novel Thus Spoke Zarathustra is the culmination of his thought as poetry. Considered by Nietzsche himself to be his magnum opus, Thus Spoke Zarathustra lightheartedly imitates the New Testament in style, and chronicles the fictitious travels of a prophet named Zarathustra, who descends from solitude in the mountains (the parallels here to Nietzsche’s own life are not, some scholars suspect, accidental) to tell the world that God is dead, but that we shouldn’t worry: humanity can become the divine successor, if only we let go of piety and restraint and embrace passion, chaos, and freedom. Not for the faint-hearted, Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a dense, challenging, deeply rewarding read.

Nietzsche on Morality, by Brian Leiter

Brian Leiter’s 2002 book, Nietzsche on Morality, is both an introduction to and an in-depth discussion of Nietzsche’s moral philosophy. It has become one of the most widely used and debated secondary sources on Nietzsche in the last two decades. Nietzsche on Morality is a great introduction and critique for anyone who wants to learn more about Nietzsche’s philosophy. It focuses on morality, but also talks about other topics.

Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy, by Maudemarie Clark

Maudemarie Clark’s 1990 book Nietzsche on Truth and Philosophy treats Nietzsche like a real philosopher, which is hard to do with a thinker who fought categorization so hard. Clark talks about Nietzsche’s views on truth, knowledge, and morality in a dialectical, argumentative, and systematic way. It’s the most academic book about Nietzsche on this list, but it gives the reader a lot of insights into his ideas.

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