Further Reading and References for The Subtle Art

A list of some of the books and resources I reference in my book.

Mark Manson
5 min readSep 12, 2022


A lot of readers and fans of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck have emailed me asking me for more information about what books I read or reference and want some form of bibliography. As a big fan of “Further Reading” sections myself, I decided to put together this rundown of the major influences on The Subtle Art and references used.

All in all, I read somewhere between 60–70 books specifically in research for The Subtle Art, and many sections of the book reference other readings I’ve done for fun in the past. So there’s a lot that went into it. Below are merely the “Greatest Hits” of all of those influences. Enjoy.

Chapter 1: Don’t Try

Bukowski’s first three novels are largely auto-biographical, so if you want to get into his work, his personality, and his amazingly sparse use of language, then I recommend Post Office, Women, and Ham on Rye, probably in that order. For a taste of his poetry, I recommend his reading of “Bluebird”.

The Backwards Law comes from Alan Watts’ book The Wisdom of Insecurity. The Camus quote (as well as his discussions of happiness) comes from The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays.

The Feedback Loop from Hell stuff is basically a cute summation of Kristin Neff’s research into self-compassion. You can learn about her work from her aptly titled book, Self-Compassion.

The last stuff in the chapter is an echo of David Foster Wallace’s famous speech, “This is Water” which is re-posted on this site, as well as one of my favorite things that I’ve ever read.

Chapter 2: Happiness Is a Problem

Readers of Herman Hesse’s Siddartha will recognize my bastardized version of the Buddha’s story.

A lot of the ideas in this chapter are inspired by the research and ideas presented in Dan Gilbert’s fantastic book Stumbling on Happiness, which I’ve now recommended on this site like 30 different times.

Viktor Frankl was originally referenced thoroughly in this chapter but his section didn’t survive the chopping block. But his classic, Man’s



Mark Manson

Author of #1 NYTimes Bestseller ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’. OG Blogger. Psychology Nerd. I enjoy cats and whiskey. But not at the same time.