Everyone’s favorite comedy about moral philosophy, The Good Place, aired its last episode of season three in January. While we try to weather this empty void before the season four premiere (likely in September 2019), there are plenty of reads to keep the spirit alive. From books with similar versions of the afterlife to books straight off Chidi’s reading list, this list has got it all.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead!
Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill
We’re kicking off this list with Utilitarianism because when Eleanor learns about it, she says that Chidi should have started with it. This seemingly simple theory equates that creating the most good or least bad is the best choice. However, this worldview can excuse treacherous, inhumane acts in the name of the greater good.
It’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt
There’s been a mix-up, and RJ’s soul was collected way too early. Like the Brainy Bunch, RJ gets the chance to go back and prove she’s worthy—but instead of getting saved the moment she died and improving from there, she gets to replay three moments in her life and make choices to change her future. How difficult can it be?
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
This literary masterpiece is an allegorical tale that takes us through Inferno (i.e. the bad place), Purgatorio (the medium place) and Paridiso (the good place). It is layered with historical, moral, and political context. This story is a must-read for anyone who loves reading about different interpretations of the afterlife.
The Essential Kierkegaard by Søren Kierkegaard
When Michael was trying to send a secret message to the humans so that Sean didn’t find out, the first hint they picked up on was Kierkegaard. If Michael had really turned on them, he could have referenced any philosopher. But he picked Kierkegaard, who wrote about a leap into faith. He was telling the humans that he could be trusted.
Hell by Robert Olen Butler
In the third season of The Good Place, we learned that nearly everyone will go to the bad place. Even Doug Forcette, who has dedicated his life to maximizing his points, will. Similarly, Hatcher McCord finds that just about everyone is in hell. He and the fellow damned search for a way out. This is something we can expect, should the Soul Squad end up in the real bad place in season four.
No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre
We wouldn’t be surprised if, when Michael devised his plan to torture Eleanor, Tahani, Jason, and Chidi, he was inspired by Sartre’s No Exit. No hellfire, no brimstone, no physical torture. Just three people locked in a room together, driving each other crazy, simply by being themselves.
What We Owe to Each Other by T.M. Scanlon
Fun fact: This was the book that Eleanor ripped out the title page of and scrawled “ELEANOR—FIND CHIDI” on, before stuffing it in Janet’s mouth at the end of season one. It’s also the philosophy that Chidi gives a three-hour lecture on, a video of which compels Eleanor to move to Australia at the end of season two.
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
Like The Good Place, this book manages to strike the perfect balance of story and moral philosophy. When Sophie comes home to two notes that send her into an existential crisis, she begins to learn about philosophy from a mysterious stranger. It’s fantasy meets moral philosophy, an unlikely yet irresistible mix.