> Skip to content
Play sample
  • Published: 20 March 2017
  • ISBN: 9780241970423
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $22.99

The Path

A New Way to Think About Everything

Ancient philosophy for modern life from Harvard's most popular professor - a Sunday Times Top 10 and International Bestseller

The first book of its kind, The Path offers a profound guide to living well through making small changes to our everyday routines. Covering subjects from decision-making to relationships, it shows how actions from greeting others and playing with children to running meetings can be opportunities to become happier and more productive.

Professor Michael Puett's course in Chinese philosophy has taken Harvard by storm. In The Path, he and journalist Christine Gross-Loh make this timeless wisdom accessible to everyone for the first time.

  • Published: 20 March 2017
  • ISBN: 9780241970423
  • Imprint: Penguin General UK
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $22.99

Praise for The Path

I can't think of anyone who wouldn't benefit from reading The Path, from my youngest son to the future President of the USA. It's accessible, realistic and far from being an ordinary self-help book. It gives immediate reassurance that this chaotic life can be mastered and it challenges you to strive for better

Patrick Neale, Bookseller

Very good. Based on Puett's popular class at Harvard, it's a great introduction to Eastern philosophy, which I always chide myself for not studying enough

Ryan Holiday

The Path is very interesting . . . makes you want to read further

Nigel Warburton

The Path is in part a pleasing debunking of fashionable self-help disciplines . . . I can testify that Puett is one of the nicest people - if not the nicest person - I have ever interviewed: attentive, generous and patient

Tim Dowling, Guardian

I couldn't wait for this. Brilliant. This is where it's at now . . . so fascinating

Jeremy Vine, BBC Radio 2

A new book from a cult Harvard professor turns contemporary thinking around happiness on its head...There can't be many cult professors. Especially ones that lecture Chinese philosophy to undergraduates. But Professor Michael Puett of Harvard is one of them. Via word of mouth, his courses became full. And now he's written a book, with co-author and journalist Christine Gross-Loh, based on his course. The Path looks at the teachings of ancient Chinese philosophers and explains how we can apply these largely forgotten teachings to our everyday lives. Granted, it sounds like a tough read. It sounds specialist and niche and intimidating. It sounds all of those things. But it is none of those things. It's a big ask in under 200 pages. But there's something wonderfully simple and refreshing about the ideas. There is a simplicity to this book: all we have is ourselves, let's try and make things better

Marisa Bate, The Pool

A very accessible and inspiring piece of work ... Anyone willing to put the work in might find that this book really can change your life

The Sentinel

A worthy introduction to thinkers rarely taught in British universities

Matthew Syed, The Times

Ideas in this book ... authentically contradict modern common sense ... Noting the current fad for mindfulness, the authors point out that Buddhism in the west "has often been distorted as a way of looking within and embracing the self". Such navel-gazing, they and the Chinese sages agree, may be a kind of imprisonment

Steven Poole, Guardian

If you're looking to get out of a rut, or rise above the doom and gloom of our present global situation, Puett's channeled knowledge from the Chinese masters will be a wake-up call. We sometimes forget that our problems are as old as civilization, and maybe the answers have always been hidden in plain sight.

Publishers Weekly Staff Pick

It's on my night stand

Gwyneth Paltrow

There's a lot in it...fascinating. [It] is challenging the conventions of Western philosophy

Philippa Thomas, BBC World

This book is a revelation, a practical way through a fractured, distracting world. I thought I knew these philosophers - and I was wrong. Rigorous, concise, deeply informed, The Path retires our facile shorthand about ideas "from the East" and presents a powerful intellectual case to engage, to care, and to remember

Evan Osnos

Thought-provoking and stimulating work. The authors carry an admirable modesty

Paddy Kehoe, RTÉ

The Path will not only change your life - -it will change the way you see history and the world. From its wondrously fresh take on Confucius to its quietly profound read of just what it is the great sages have to say to us, this book exemplifies all that can come of the radical openness of Chinese philosophy. Read it and be transformed

Gish Jen, author of Tiger Writing and The Love Wife

The Path illuminates a little-known spiritual and intellectual landscape: the rich body of Chinese thought that, starting more than two millennia ago, charted new approaches to living a meaningful life. But Puett goes a lot further, creatively applying this ancient thought to the dilemmas of modern life. The result is a fresh recipe for harnessing our natural energies and emotions to strengthen social connection and build islands of order amid the chaos that sometimes surrounds us

Robert Wright, author of The Language of God

A very accessible work


Can you turn a Chinese theory class into a smart self-help book? US academic Michael Puett did. Puett's book encourages us to chuck away our stiff, encrusted western notions, and to adopt a more fluid, less didactic approach to life. The Path is not your classic self-help book, and not just because it dismantles the self. It doesn't serve up an easy set of how-to activities ... you are also advised that any changes you make will be slow, incremental, the result of constant daily work ... To talk to Puett is to view our western tradition through an entirely different lens

Sunday Times

His course has become the most popular on campus, even with those studying other subjects, and that's because he talks about how to have a good life, and using ancient Chinese philosophy challenges all our modern assumptions about what it takes to flourish in life

Sarah Montague, Today programme

I couldn't wait for this. Brilliant. This is where it's at now ... so fascinating

Jeremy Vine, BBC Radio 2

I have been talking about it to everyone. It's brilliant, mesmerizing, profound - and deeply contrarian. It points the way to a life of genuine fulfillment and meaning

Amy Chua, author of 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother'

Offer[s] interesting alternatives to some of our modern ideas of self and society ... worth the cover price

Financial Times

Puett's book is designed to make the reader think, and it fulfils that objective. He presents complex philosophies lucidly

Krishnan Srinivasan, former Indian Foreign Secretary, The Statesman

Puett's dynamism translates well from his classroom theater onto the page, and his provocative, radical re-envisioning of everyday living through Chinese philosophy opens wide the 'possibilities for thinking afresh about ourselves and about our future.' With its ... spirited, convincing vision, revolutionary new insights can be gleaned from this book on how to approach life's multifarious situations with both heart and head

Kirkus Reviews

The Laozi actually offers a much more expansive-and revolutionary-vision of innovation [than The Art of War. It] questions the very idea that we should try to come up with innovative strategies within a defined, predictable arena, whether that is the battlefield or dinner table, the boardroom or the steel industry. Instead, the Laozi assumes a world in constant flux and motion. Those who aspire to innovate are better off seeing the world through a Laozian, not Sunzian, lens


The Importance of Breaking Free of ... Yourself

LinkedIn post viewed over 0.5 million times

This is a book that turns the notion of help - and the self, for that matter - on its head. Puett and Gross-Loh bring seemingly esoteric concepts down to Earth, where we can see them more clearly. The result is a philosophy book grounded in the here and now, and brimming with nuggets of insight. No fortune-cookie this, The Path serves up a buffet of meaty life lessons. I found myself reading and re-reading sections, letting the wisdom steep like a good cup of tea

Eric Weiner

Welcome and unusual. Its genesis rests in the enormous teaching success of Puett, a professor of Chinese history at Harvard. His freshman survey course on Chinese philosophy now ranks as the most popular humanities class on the campus, requiring the august venue of Sanders Theatre to accommodate its 700-plus regulars. The result? A remarkable combination of self-help guide and iconoclastic take on ancient Chinese wisdom

Chronicle of Higher Education