Man's Search for Meaning

Ranked #1 in Author, Ranked #1 in Evilsee more rankings.

Man's Search for Meaning has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 psychiatrist Viktor Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the stories of his many patients, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl's theory—known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos ("meaning")—holds... more

Want to learn the key points of "Man's Search for Meaning" in 21 minutes?

Get a full book summary of Man's Search for Meaning by signing up for Shortform.

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

  • Being 100% comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
  • Cutting out the fluff: you don't spend your time wondering what the author's point is.
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.

Reviews and Recommendations

We've comprehensively compiled reviews of Man's Search for Meaning from the world's leading experts.

Tony Robbins Life CoachAnother book that I’ve read dozens of times. It taught me that if you change the meaning, you change everything. Meaning equals emotion, and emotion equals life. (Source)

Ev Williams Co-Founder/Twitter, CEO/MediumRecommends this book

Dustin Moskovitz Co-founder/Facebook and Asana[Dustin Moskovitz recommended this book on Twitter.] (Source)

Jimmy Fallon TV HostI read it while spending ten days in the ICU of Bellevue hospital trying to reattach my finger from a ring avulsion accident in my kitchen. It talks about the meaning of life, and I believe you come out a better person from reading it. (Source)

Simon Sinek AuthorThis is essential reading for anyone interested in the topic of purpose. Because Frankl’s personal experience was so extreme, the lessons are that much more stark. And, most importantly, his lessons are universally applicable to all our lives. (Source)

James Altucher Founder/StockPickrHe was in Auschwitz. His friends and family were dying all around him. He was tortured both physically and psychologically.But he found the vein of meaning deep inside of him to keep going. And not only to keep going, to actually hope, and be excited about a future he didn’t even know if he would live for.Read that one book alone. Read it over and over. (Source)

Emma Watson Recommends this book

Chelsea Handler One of those beautiful accounts of a terrible time in our history. His calm and sagaciousness, while witnessing one horror after another played out during his time in three separate concentration camps, is awe inspiring. (Source)

Daniel Pink AuthorRecommends this book

Jason Calacanis Entrepreneur & Angel InvestorJohn Brockman, my dear friend and agent (if I ever get around to writing a book), handed me one of the most important books of my life: “Authentic Happiness” by Marty Seligman. That book led me to the most important book of my life: “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. Frankl was a psychologist and Holocaust survivor. He studied how people react to horrible circumstances that are beyond their control. He studied why some people give up and others carry on. While few of us can understand the level of suffering of people during the Holocaust, Nanking or the Killing Fields, Frankl put... (Source)

Chip Conley If I were to take the meaning of [this book], and turn it into an equation, it would be despair equals suffering minus meaning. (Source)

Ryan Holiday AuthorFrankl is one of the most profound modern thinkers on meaning and purpose. His contribution was to change the question from the vague philosophy of “What is the meaning of life?” to man being asked and forced to answer with his actions. He looks at how we find purpose by dedicating ourselves to a cause, learning to love and finding a meaning to our suffering. His other two books on the topic, Will To Meaning and Man’s Search for Ultimate Meaning have gems in them as well. (Source)

David McCann How many times in Entrepreneur land and business let alone life do we find ourselves in the frustration situation where stuff isn’t just going according to plan. The goals, the tasks list the business plans and even the people aren’t working out. In fact they’re not even behaving. We kill ourselves with exhaustion trying all the force, cunningness and other tricks plus smarts to advance or muscle through. All has not failed perhaps the real issue is ourselves – we need to change or evolve. (Source)

Laurentiu-Victor Balasa To learn how to appreciate the entrepreneurial struggle and see how easy it is compared to real hardships (Source)

Chris Goward Here are some of the books that have been very impactful for me, or taught me a new way of thinking: [...] Man’s Search for Meaning. (Source)

Adam Johnston If you read enough, any missed nuggets will eventually surface again in another book, unless you’re reading Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. If you’re reading that, make sure you grab every nugget you can the first time and then go back and reread it a few times. (Source)

George Logothetis Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl made a profound impact on me. Frankl, a psychologist, spent years in the Nazi concentration camps under barbaric conditions. Yet he was somehow able to convert and channel his own suffering into improving the lives of others with his work after the war. Reading his story was an inspiration—a lesson and a deep and poignant message that if you can find the strength (and awareness) to attach meaning to your own suffering it can make it a little more bearable. And a further reminder as to how lucky we are to live in a free Western World. It tells us what... (Source)

Roxana Bitoleanu [One of the books that had the biggest impact on ] Man's search for meaning, a story about resilience in the most extreme way possible. (Source)

David Heinemeier Hansson Man’s Search for Meaning is part holocaust first-person account, part exposition of “logotherapy”, and combined completely profound. Humans can endure the most gruesome treatment if they have something to live for. And they can die from the most pampered existence once there’s nothing to live for. It’s exceedingly well written, and wonderfully short. The author wrote it in 9 days, and yet it’s probably the best book on the philosophy of life that I’ve read outside of the Stoic classics. Very highly recommended. (Source)

Erik Rostad You can get books on particular skills you need for a given job, but these books will help having the right mindset for a career and how work should fit into the greater story of your life. For pursuing the right goals: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. (Source)

Todd Henry Frankl was in a concentration camp in WWII, and lost many family members and friends at the hands of Nazi tyranny. In reading his story, and learning how he managed to survive, I was struck by how he reframed the question about life purpose. He argues that instead of asking “what do I want out of life?”, we should instead ask “what does life want from me?” Approaching daily activity with a mindset of contribution and adding value re-frames many of the trivial stresses and frustrations and helps me to instead focus on the bigger picture of what I’m adding to the world. (Source)

Stephen Lew "The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho is my all time favourite and followed by "Man in Search of Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. [...] Man in Search of Meaning draws onto the importance of developing awareness for one’s existential needs. Our existence or existential identity is a beacon of our life’s journey. (Source)

Tudor Mihailescu Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl is another masterpiece. Built around a very testing personal story, it leaves you empowered to be the master of your own destiny. Finding your logos (purpose), what really really drives you is probably the most important mission we have in life and, once that is somewhat conquered, everything else – no matter how difficult – will be just noise. Frankl’s journey, an interesting mix of personal and professional, is a great example. (Source)

Emi Gal My all-time favorite book is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, because it shows how even an inmate in a concentration camp can find meaning in life, and I believe having meaning in life is important. (Source)

Kevin Lamping Another great read for folks looking for a little meaning in their life. (Source)

Henry Medine I promote range and diversity. Thus, I recommend readers to expose themselves to as many different topics as possible. I usually have 2-4 books I refer back to at any given time. They range in topics from management, art, spirituality and philosophy. Trying to get the engineering thing going but don't much of a mind for science. (Source)

James Murphy Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl because it helped me understand the concept of “suffering” on a much deeper level. More importantly, it led me to accept that how I respond to and deal with negative situations is completely in my control. (Source)

Gunhee Park I can’t narrow down one favorite book, but there are a few that have had a strong impact on me over the past few years. Life and Death in Shanghai and Man’s Search for Meaning are great non-business books that have helped me gain a deeper perspective on life. Both books also helps you gain a stronger appreciation of the times we live in today. (Source)

Deepak Chhugani While it was hard to understand why this book would help in work, it was one of the many important readings that helped me be introspective and decide if I actually wanted to go through the hardships of starting a tech startup. There are plenty of easier ways to make money with less headaches, less disapproval from peers, among others, so it helped me figure out what I really wanted to do and find comfort in that decision. (Source)

Madalina Uceanu My favourite book of all times remains “Man’s search for meaning“, written by Viktor Frankl, as it brings some very valuable lessons about human nature and what’s most important in life, acting as a good reminder to see the forest from the trees and focus on the values that represent you. (Source)

Anant Jain I remember that reading the book “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl was a pivotal moment for me. It’s the story of Frankl’s survival through Nazi concentration camps during World War II. It made me think long and hard about what living a fulfilling life really means for me and what are the things that I truly value. It's a short read, and I highly recommend you read this one. (Source)

Sven Gatz An extraordinary book. About great evil and survival. About greater hope and humanity. (Source)

Susan Suehr His book was so inspiring. (Source)

Philip Zimbardo What is your favorite quote from Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning? Or, how did the book impact or inspire you? Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor. If you haven't read it, you can get a copy here: (Source)

Søren Bjerg Just finished Viktor Frankl's book Man's search for meaning and it has some great ideas and quotes. This one's probably my favorite: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” ^_^ (Source)

Lolly Daskal Recommends this book

Jeff Bussgang Recommends this book

Turia Pitt [If people are] doing a bit of soul searching, hands down [I give them this book]. (Source)

Matt Brown Very powerful quote from Viktor Frankl. Teaching the next generation lessons that took me almost 40 years to learn!! By the way that’s a powerful book that Frankl wrote called Mans Search for Meaning. (Source)

Fedor Holz [From it] I interpreted that we cannot avoid suffering, but we can choose how to cope with it, and that having meaning in our life is essential. (Source)

Esther Perel The book I’ve probably gifted the most is [this book], since I’m 16. (Source)

David Blaine One of my favorite books. (Source)

Dave Elitch [Dave Elitch recommended this book on the podcast "The Tim Ferriss Show".] (Source)

Bryan Johnson His basic point is no matter the conditions we surround ourselves in, we can author our life. (Source)

Aniela Gregorek A book I have gifted to many people because it changed the way I think about human suffering and grace in life. (Source)

Mary Fulbrook What’s interesting about his account, which I found absolutely fascinating, is the way he explores the importance of meaning in life as the key to survival. (Source)

Sarah Bakewell I chose this book because it’s an incredibly powerful and moving example of what existentialist thought can actually be for in real life, what good it can do, how it can help people. (Source)

Michael Gervais Frankl says, let me tell you and show you how I and my friends lived in the concentration camps. And if I can do it there, and suffer at that level, so you can you. (Source)

Robert Kelsey He was a psychiatrist in Vienna in the 1930s and then got carted off to Auschwitz with all his family. He was the only one that survived and he wrote this book. (Source)

Roman Krznaric Frankl’s time in concentration camps was enlightening for him. He noticed that those most likely to survive had what he called a ‘will to meaning’. (Source)

Chris Kutarna Walk into any bookstore and somewhere there’s a shelf that’s labelled self-help. In my view, you can just ignore the whole shelf and read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. (Source)

Rankings by Category

Man's Search for Meaning is ranked in the following categories:

Similar Books

If you like Man's Search for Meaning, check out these similar top-rated books:

Learn: What makes Shortform summaries the best in the world?