The Psychedelic Book Club

By Justin Cooke Last Updated: April 28, 2022
Last Updated: April 28, 2022

“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.” – Jim Rohn

Despite the advancements in the quality of video and audio-based content, reading remains the most efficient method of absorbing and integrating explicit information. 

Psychedelics open the mind, improve the way we think and see the world, and help us unlock a greater level of insight and capacity for critical thinking.

Unsurprisingly, many of the greatest minds in psychedelics are also avid writers, and there are a ton of excellent books to help you dive into this intriguing world.

Here are 23 of the most impactful and interesting reads on the topic of psychedelics for psychonauts of all levels of experience.

Psychedelics 101

These are the staples — the books any psychonaut should at least be familiar with. Any one of these books serves as a perfect jumping-off point for anyone interested in dabbling with psychedelics.

How to Change Your Mind

(Michael Pollan)

This book single-handedly brought psychedelics back into the mainstream. Michael Pollan went from being a psychedelic skeptic, only trying psychedelics in his later adult years, to one of the most influential and knowledgeable individuals in the psychedelic community.

This book covers the history of psychedelics, Pollan’s personal experience searching for and engaging with a professional trip sitter, and the science behind psychedelic drugs for personal growth and healing.

If you only read one book on psychedelics, this is the one.

The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide

(James Fadiman)

James Fadiman is a highly respected pioneer in the psychedelic research space. This book is his compendium on the safe, responsible, and effective use of psychedelic substances.

This book covers a wide body of research and expert insights into the use of many different types of psychedelics — including microdosing.

This book is an incredible blend of humor, personal insight and anecdotes, and factual, evidence-based information.

The Psychedelic Experience

(Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, & Richard Alpert)

Written by three of the most influential minds in the psychedelic space, The Psychedelic Experience is built off the wisdom of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

This book explores consciousness, ego-death, and transcendence associated with high doses of psychedelics. It’s considered canon in psychedelic literature for psychonauts of all levels of experience.

The Doors of Perception

(Aldous Huxley)

This was one of the first psychedelic books to reach mainstream popularity. The author, Aldous Huxley — a prolific writer — took peyote, a mescaline-containing cactus. This book highlights his journey inward through new states of consciousness.

This book is an enjoyable read, full of spiritual, philosophical, and psychological insights still relevant today.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

(Tom Wolfe)

This book follows the far-out adventures of The Merry Pranksters — a circus of psychonauts — as they travel across America in the middle 1960s. At the time, LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) was still legal, and the merry gang would “turn-on” everybody they could along the way.

This book is easy to read, hilarious, and at times, incredibly insightful. Throughout the journey, you’ll be introduced to some of the most important psychedelic figureheads of the time — including Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Jerry Garcia, Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and more.

This book is fun, groovy, and offers insight into the profundity of the 1960s counterculture and how it shaped Western thinking forever.

PiHKAL: A Chemical Love Story

(Alexander Shulgin)

PiHKAL is the first of two books written by the late Alexander Shulgin and his wife, Ann Shulgin.

The first half of the book is a love story largely based on the couple’s real-life experience, and the second half is a recipe book and guide for synthesizing and using over 170 phenethylamine-based psychedelics Shulgin invented in his lab.

Alexander Shulgin was the most prolific biochemist in the psychedelic space — having personally invented and tested well over 230 individual substances. This book offers insights into the minds of one of the most intelligent chemists in the world, his views on consciousness, death, and the use of psychoactive substances.

His wife and co-authors’ addition to the book balances his logical thinking with her more empathetic and mystical ideas on some of the deeper concepts explored in the book.

Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy & Medicine

These books take a deeper look at the medicinal applications of psychedelics.

They’re excellent resources for therapists using psychedelics as part of their practice or laypeople with interest in the science of psychedelics as medicine.

Related: What is Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy?

Love Drugs

(Brian Earp & Julian Savulescu)

This book explores the use of chemicals, namely MDMA (ecstasy), for facilitating human connection. It questions the origin of love and offers insight into how empathogenic substances like MDMA offer value in couples therapy or individual healing after a breakup.

This book builds a case for doing more research into love drugs and “anti-love drugs” and their potential role in society.

Psychedelic Psychotherapy: A User-Friendly Guide to Psychedelic Drug Assisted Psychotherapy

(R. Coleman)

This comprehensive guide offers an all-inclusive resource for therapists administering psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. It offers definitive guidelines on the nitty-gritty involved with healing trauma, addiction, and various other mental health disorders with LSD, MDMA, and psilocybin.

This is a must-have for anybody interested in the field of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy.

Psychedelic Medicine

(Dr. Richard Louis Miller)

This book is the perfect starting point for those interested in the medical applications of psychedelics. Dr. Miller eloquently breaks down the most impactful research in the psychedelic space — including the work of Charles Grob, David Nichols, Dennis McKenna, James Fadiman, Julie Holland, Katherine MacLean, Michael and Annie Mithoefer, Phil Wolfson, Robert Whitaker, Roland Griffiths, Stanislav Grof, and Rick Doblin.

This book covers the history, basis of mental illness, current research, the future path of psychedelic medicine, and non-technical summaries of MDMA, LSD, psilocybin, ayahuasca, and more.

LSD Psychotherapy: The Healing Potential of Psychedelic Medicine

(Stanislav Grof)

This is one of the core readings for transpersonal therapy and psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. It’s a dense text-book style reading, full of insights and evidence-based information from one of the most influential psychiatrists to ever live.

The studies explored in this book challenge the ideas we have about human consciousness, perception, and reality — and offer unique insight into ways we can use shifts in our perception of these concepts for healing.

The Body Keeps The Score

(Bessel van der Kolk)

This is an essential guide to understanding trauma and how it affects each and every one of us throughout our lives. It explores how trauma affects our ability to relate to others and explores the underpinnings of trauma and what emerging research suggests in how we can treat it.

This book isn’t directly about psychedelics but covers a lot of the core topics psychedelic research focuses on in terms of healing trauma and trauma-related disorders — such as addiction, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and more.

In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts

(Gabor Maté)

Gabor Maté is an expert on addiction and trauma. He worked with the marginalized community of the downtown eastside of Vancouver, Canada — a small strip of land with the highest concentration of drug abuse in North America.

This book explores what he believes is the core underpinning of all addiction — trauma — and what emerging theories and treatments are in the works for treating it.

Dr. Maté’s book covers current neuroscience, personal case studies and anecdotes, and social critique to address one of our culture’s most complex and paradoxical epidemics.

Heart Medicine

(E. Bast)

This book follows a couple as they navigate the difficult and tormenting maze of addiction. After years of treatment and relapse, the couple pursues an alternative course of treatment — an obscure indigenous African plant medicine known as iboga.

As the couple engages in iboga treatment, they discover therapeutic applications that stretch far wider than just addiction and trauma.

Books On Microdosing

Microdosing is all the rage these days, and for good reason.

This practice was popularized after it came to light that many of the high-functioning executives in silicon valley were using microdoses of psychedelics to be more productive, live more presently, and reach new highs in terms of success and personal growth, and expansion.

A Really Good Day

(Ayelet Waldman)

Ayelet Waldman tried everything to treat her bipolar disorder, but nothing worked. That is until she started taking a 10% dose of LSD.

This book explores the world of microdosing in a therapeutic context from a first-person perspective. It explores her struggles with navigating psychotropic medicines and psychiatrists and walks us through her month-long microdosing journey and how she was able to improve her condition, find happiness, reduce physical pain, and become more productive in her daily life.

You’ll learn about the history, research, policy, and theories behind microdosing psychedelics for mental health.

Books On Mushroom Cultivation & Identification

Learn how to grow magic mushrooms from the leading experts in the field. These books are considered canon in the realm of amateur and professional mushroom-growers alike.

Psilocybin: Magic Mushroom Grower’s Guide

(Oss & Oeric: AKA Terrence & Dennis McKenna)

This was one of the first-ever books explaining an effective method of cultivating magic mushrooms.

Terrence and Dennis McKenna first traveled to the Amazon back in 1970, where they collected magic mushroom samples and spores to bring home for their research. They incorporated their own knowledge of plant and fungi cultivation with information picked up from various cultures living in the rainforest to produce this high-impact book on magic mushroom cultivation.

The techniques outlined in this book are still considered standard cultivation methods to this day.

It’s easy to read, informative, and concise. Perfect for anybody getting started growing their own magic mushrooms at home using daily household items.

Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World: An Identification Guide

(Paul Stamets)

Stamets is the utmost authority on mushrooms today — both psychedelic or otherwise. He’s written several texts now considered canon in the field of mushroom cultivation. This book is his compendium of the many psilocybin-containing species — of which there is a surprising diversity.

Over 100 species of mushrooms are covered in-depth in this book — spanning all continents short of Antarctica. It’s a must-have for anybody interested in foraging wild psychoactive mushrooms.

Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms

(Paul Stamets)

This book is the utmost authority on mushroom cultivation — period. It covers all techniques of propagating and culturing mushrooms of all different types across the entire growth cycle.

The pages of this book provide step-by-step instructions on how to grow mushrooms at home — including gourmet edible mushrooms and magic mushrooms alike.

This is a must-have for professional and amateur mushroom cultivators.

Books That Take You Down The Rabbithole

Psychedelics can open your mind to a lot of things — this usually involves subtle and personal things like how you should approach your job, relationships, or spare time.

But it can also bring much deeper and more far-out ideas involving cliché concepts of aliens, ego-death, the origins of human consciousness, and time.

These books take a much deeper dive into some of the theories & philosophies dreamt up with the help of psychedelics.

Whether you think these ideas are too far-fetched or not, they’re interesting reads that offer an alternative view on the world and our place within it.

Food of the Gods

(Terrence McKenna)

The Food of the Gods explores the relationship between humans and psychoactive plants. McKenna explores the stoned ape theory — the idea that pre-humans evolved into what we are today with the help of psychoactive mushrooms.

This book is a dense read but provides an incredible degree of insight into the origins of human consciousness, and the importance psychedelics have played throughout human history.

True Hallucinations

(Terence McKenna)

This is arguably Terence McKenna’s most controversial book. It highlights his trip to the Amazon in search of psychedelic mushrooms and yopo, his experiments with merging psilocybin into his own DNA, telepathic abilities, machine elves, and UFOs, time, the I Ching, and the origins of human consciousness. The further you get into this book, the crazier it gets — and it’s incredible.

This book gives you a unique insight into the incredible and zany mind of Terence McKenna. It’s been described as a dense black hole of psychedelic magic and potential.

This is a good book for the experienced psychonaut looking to explore the deeper levels of psychedelics and consciousness from one of the GOATs.

Alien Information Theory: Psychedelic Drug Technologies and the Cosmic Game

(Andrew Gallimore)

This book explores cosmic game theory — which suggests that DMT is an alien technology that’s been placed on earth by other beings as some sort of experiment or test.

This book overlaps with Terence McKenna’s ideas outlined in True Hallucinations and Food of the Gods.

This book is far-out, controversial, and incredibly interesting.

Ayahuasca Jungle Visions: A Coloring Book

(Alexander George Ward)

This book is a unique coloring book inspired by the personal experience of the illustrator’s trip through the Amazon rainforest.

This book features trippy and intricate illustrations of his ayahuasca visions, traditional-styled ayahuasca artwork, and views of the Amazon rainforest.

Coloring books are a great way to relax, unwind, and meditate. I highly recommend this coloring book for the psychedelic savvy.

Sacred Mirrors: The Visionary Art of Alex Grey

(Alex Grey)

Alex Grey is a famous artist with a characteristic psychedelic art style — inspired by his use of hallucinogenic and mind-expanding substances.

This graphic book takes the reader on a journey through the physical, metaphysical, and anatomical view of the self.

His unique illustration method offers imagery that helps visualize the flow of energy, esoteric symbolism, and the forces of the divine in the living engine of the human body.

This is a great coffee-table book for psychonauts.

Be Here Now

(Ram Dass)

Baba Ram Dass was formerly known as Richard Alpert — who led the Harvard Psilocybin Project with Timothy Leary in the 1960s. After being fired from Harvard, Alpert traveled to an ashram in India, where he eventually became Ram Dass — one of the most influential spiritual leaders in the Western world.

Be Here Now is not a psychedelic book. While it touches on Alpert’s role in the psilocybin experiments of the 60s, it’s more of a spiritual companion inspired by Alpert’s experiences with psychedelics than anything else.

This book is split into four sections:

  1. His transformation from Richard Alpert into Ram Dass & his early research into psychedelics
  2. A free-form collection of metaphysical, spiritual, and religious aphorisms
  3. A manual for starting on a yogic or spiritual path — including techniques for yoga, breathing, and meditation
  4. A Zen commentary on the liturgy — including various book recommendations

Did We Miss Something?

We’re constantly seeking out new, exciting books to add to our collection. If there’s something we’ve missed that should be on this list, don’t hesitate to add ideas to the comment section below!

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