A Look at Bruce Lee’s Library

Published by Jeet Kune Do Library

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.

Bruce Lee LibrarySome 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)
  • Dynamic Aikido – Gozo Shioda
  • Dynamic Judo – Kazuzo Kudo (throwing techniques & grappling techniques books)
  • Efficiency of Human Movement – Marion Ruth Broer
  • Books on Tai Ji
  • Books on Psychology
  • Books on Philosophy /Religion
  • Books on Yoga
  • Books on Fitness / weight lifting
  • 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
  • The Koran
  • 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. 

Peace & respect,



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