Every once in a while someone e-mails me and asks for my recommendations for the budding amateur philosopher.

I highly recommend The Pig That Wants to Be Eaten: 100 Experiments for the Armchair Philosopher, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's just 100 two- or three-paragraph thought experiments, drawn from sources like the history of philosophy, literature, film, and science fiction. I can honestly say it's the book that did the most to stimulate my interest in philosophy. Really, anything by Julian Baggini is a good choice.

If you're more interested in the history of philosophy than the practice, you might find Great Thinkers of the Western World stimulating. My father got me this when I left middle school, and I absolutely loved it. There is a companion volume for the Eastern World, which I unfortunately don't own.

Full disclosure, those are my Amazon Affiliates links. If you buy those, or any other book, through those links, I get a small cut. I promise, it doesn't change my recommendations at all - I wouldn't recommend something I haven't read and loved. For example, I don't recommend Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar, even though it's a New York Times bestseller. I found it too simplistic and not really informative at all. So, no link.

More in the "free" category, I recommend (and often use) the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for in-depth coverage of specific issues - it's kind of technical, but a helpful resource. I'd also recommend Squashed Philosophers, which takes the original works and just abridges them without adding anything.

If you have any questions or concerns, or want more specific recommendations, you can of course still e-mail me at