Bruce Lee is known to have had over 2,500 books in his own personal library.
He had books on many topics: from nutrition to bodybuilding, to guides on mental mastery to fencing; and books on all types of martial arts and philosophy.
Some of the more well known books in his collection were books on philosophy (such as Jiddu Krishnamurti’s books) and the Chinese Classics (such as Tao Te Ching, I-Ching, Art of War by Sun Tzu); books on fencing (probably the most famous one we know of in his collection was the book by Aldo Nadi named “On Fencing”) and boxing.
In the book, Bruce Lee: Dynamic Becoming, the author James Bishop published a list of 367 books that are confirmed to have been in his library (according to Mr. Bishop there were over 500 books in Chinese language).
Some of the other books he lists as being a part of Bruce Lee’s personal library are:
Aikido – Kisshomaru Ueshiba (he lists several books on Aikido)
Aikido: The Art of Self Defense – Koichi Tohei
Advanced Karate – Mas Oyama (other Kyokushinkai books are also on this list)
The Book of 5 Rings – Miyamoto Musashi
The Book of Fencing – Kass (many books on fencing in his collection)
Bokuden Ikun Sho – Tsukuhara Bokuden (several books on Japanese sword / Kendo)
Bushido: The Soul of the Samurai – Nitobe Inazo
Canon of Judo – Kyuzo Mifune (many books on Judo in his collection)
Championship Fighting: Explosive Punching and Aggressive Defense – Jack Dempsey
Combat Training of the Individual Soldier & Patrolling – US Army (US Army Boxing Manual is also on this list)
Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai – Yamamoto Tsunetomo
The Handbook of Judo – Gene LeBell and L.C. Coughran
Hero with a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell
How to Box – Joe Louis
Illustrated Guide to the Takedown in Wrestling – Robert L. Brown and Thomas E. Robertson
Introduction to Zen Buddhism – D.T. Suzuki (and many other books on Zen)
Karate-Do: Nyumon – Gichin Funakoshi
Kenpo Karate: Law of the Fist – Ed Parker
Kill or Get Killed – Rex Applegate
The Holy Bible
Power of Positive Thinking – Norman Vincent Peale
Practical Karate series – Donn Draeger / Masatoshi Nakayama
Secrets of Shaolin Temple Boxing – Robert W. Smith
Shorinji Kempo: Philosophy and Techniques – Doshin So
Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill
Tibetan Book of the Dead
The Unfettered Mind : Writings of the Zen Master to the Sword Master – Takuan Soho
US Navy Boxing Manual – US Navy
Obviously these are but a sub-section of the smaller list of 367 books in James Bishop’s book. It’s interesting to see all the various titles and it’s quite obvious from looking at the list from Bruce Lee’s library that he was well-read on many topics including philosophy, religion, physical culture and classic literature.
About the video: The video included in this post is a short video by Bruce Lee’s daughter Shannon, who takes us through her father’s unique library of books.