> Skip to content

Books that have changed the history of thought, in sumptuous, clothbound hardbacks.

  • Written by an intellectual Roman emperor without any intention of publication, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are the spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the leader struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe.

  • Beyond Good and Evil demonstrates that the world is steeped in false piety and infected with a 'slave morality'. With wit and subversive energy, Nietzsche demands that the individual impose their own 'will to power' upon the world.

  • Lucretius' poem On the Nature of Things combines a scientific and philosophical treatise with some of the greatest poetry ever written.

  • Freud's epoch-making insights revolutionized our perception of who we are, forming the foundation for psychoanalysis. In Civilization and its Discontents he considers the incompatibility of civilization and individual happiness.

  • The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels's revolutionary summons to the working classes, changed the face of the twentieth century beyond recognition.

  • A Room of One's Own, Woolf's blazing polemic on female creativity, the role of the writer, and the silent fate of Shakespeare's imaginary sister, remains a powerful reminder of a woman's need for financial independence and intellectual freedom.

  • Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince is the Bible of realpolitik, a tough-minded, pragmatic handbook on how power really works, and how to hold on to it in a dangerous world. How can a leader be strong? Is it better to be feared than loved?

  • Offering essential advice on battlefield tactics, managing others and employing cunning, discipline and deception to outwit your opponent, Sun-tzu's The Art of War has provided leaders with the ultimate guide to survival and success for more than two thousand years, whether in battle or in business.

  • Seen as the original Existentialist, Kierkegaard transformed philosophy with his conviction that we must all create our own nature. Fear and Trembling, his great work of religious anxiety portraying Abraham's sacrifice of his son Isaac, argues that true understanding can only be attained by making a personal 'leap of faith'.

  • Schopenhauer believed that human action is determined not by reason but by 'will' - the blind and irrational desire for physical existence. These writings depict individuals struggling in a Godless world, in which art, morality and self-awareness are our only salvation.

  • Seeing self-possession as the key to an existence lived 'in accordance with nature', the Stoic philosophy called for the restraint of animal instincts and the importance of upright ethical ideals and virtuous living.

  • A remarkably honest and revealing spiritual autobiography, the Confessions also address fundamental issues of Christian doctrine, and many of the prayers and meditations it includes are still an integral part of the practice of Christianity today.

More Book Lists

Penguin Women Writers

Four books chosen by authors Penelope Lively and Kamila Shamsie to mark the centenary of the first British women receiving the right to vote.

Penguin Monarchs

The acclaimed Penguin Monarchs series: short, fresh, expert accounts of England's rulers

Great Kerouac

The covers, designed by Tom Etherington of Penguin Press, feature the works of abstract expressionist painter Franz Kline.

Penguin Faux Leather Edition

A special set of 10 hardcover classics, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, that innovatively use foil and a special new binding material to create a highly collectible set.

F Scott Fitzgerald Hardback Collection

These sumptuous hardback editions designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith were published in 2010 to mark the 70th anniversary of Fitzgerald's death.