Looking for philosophy/new-age/self-help books that are also novels
September 21, 2016 5:30 AM   Subscribe

For example: The Alchemist, Celestine Prophecy, Sophie's World. Any others?
posted by dontjumplarry to Writing & Language (24 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Does Foucault's Pendulum count? It's pretty comprehensive in its treatment of hermetic philosophy.
posted by jackbishop at 5:37 AM on September 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
posted by crocomancer at 5:37 AM on September 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


Do those Carlos Castaneda books count? They were kind of novels.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:40 AM on September 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Jonathan Livingston Seagull .
posted by misteraitch at 5:40 AM on September 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Thus Spoke Zarathustra
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:50 AM on September 21, 2016


Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn.
posted by alms at 6:01 AM on September 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I see Jonathan Livingston Seagull has already been mentioned, but came in to also mention Illusions, by the same author.

A lot of Dostoyevsky is basically this, especially Notes from the Underground.

You could make the argument for The Fountainhead, et al., but god they're terrible.
posted by General Malaise at 6:08 AM on September 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


What about the works of Herman Hesse?
posted by Frowner at 6:09 AM on September 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


Starhawk's Fifth Sacred Thing is a super new-agey novel themed around different ways of life and recovery from trauma. On the one hand, it's suuuuuuuuper cheesy, but on the other hand, if you like it at all you'll probably love it anyway. Everyone I know who's read it basically has that reaction. It really does its thing very well.
posted by Frowner at 6:14 AM on September 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


In the same vein as Foucault's Pendulum, maybe John Crowley's AEgypt series. There's a lot of gnostic and new age themes but it's more of a commentary on those ideas than an example of them. Great books though.
posted by crocomancer at 6:20 AM on September 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Simone de Beauvoir's The Mandarins helped me think through agency and structure, means and ends, and the value of the individual (and art) in difficult times; also, love, a bit.

2nd Herman Hesse's stuff.
posted by cotton dress sock at 6:33 AM on September 21, 2016


The Lathe of Heaven got me interested in Taoism.
posted by O. Bender at 6:34 AM on September 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Way of the Peaceful Warrior?
posted by dfm500 at 6:38 AM on September 21, 2016


Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.
posted by jbenben at 6:49 AM on September 21, 2016


Oh, duh...

and Dune by Frank Herbert.
posted by jbenben at 6:51 AM on September 21, 2016


The Lathe of Heaven is a super good example of what it might look like to be done well.

Le Guin's Earthsea books are a fairly blatant Taoist parable once you've read up on Taoism, in a sort of "you'll never be able to unsee it" way.

Samuel R. Delany's works are always super interested in semiology, but the "Neveryona" novels in particular are philosophical and semiological tracts mixed with fiction in a way that I would imagine being super off-putting to some. To the extent that characters will give philosphical speeches that last for pages.

On that note, the all-time example of the philosophical novel is War and Peace. There's even a coda that is just philosophical essay.
posted by selfnoise at 7:06 AM on September 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ayn Rand's novels.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 7:29 AM on September 21, 2016


Winged Pharaoh by Joan Grant
posted by Hanuman1960 at 9:37 AM on September 21, 2016


All super helpful, thanks! Was particularly looking for books which really foreground the philosophy or self-help stuff (so much so that it could be filed in that section of the bookstore) hence the ones I ticked as best.
posted by dontjumplarry at 9:54 AM on September 21, 2016


Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals
posted by SisterHavana at 10:05 AM on September 21, 2016


Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse (Edit: Oops! Just noticed that Hesse was already mentioned upthread. Don't know which of his other novels might qualify, but this one definitely does.)
posted by phoenixy at 1:14 PM on September 21, 2016


Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut
posted by pintapicasso at 2:22 PM on September 21, 2016


It's non-fiction, but it uses the structure of a narrative story to illuminate a philosophy so maybe it will fit your bill: The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen.
posted by alms at 5:45 PM on September 21, 2016


I suspect anything by Paulo Coelho fits your bill.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:02 PM on September 21, 2016


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