I am looking for a word that describes a book that is read again and again like a bible. A book that is often gone to, not for reference but for reminders[1]. Like a book of maxims, manifesto, or aphorisms.

[1]: Some books append "Bible" to describe a book that is often used for reference or comprehensive teaching. E.g: Programmer's bible or Linux bible. I am not referring to those.

To clarify: Reference is looking something [specific] up quickly for a task. The books I'm referring to are almost read in a ritual way without the purpose of finding specific information.

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    An adjective that describes such a book would be well-thumbed. Are you looking for a description? Or a name?
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 1 at 20:57
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    What does 'not for reference but for reminders' mean? Commented Jul 1 at 21:39
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    I think your use of "bible" is confusing. Vademecum probably fits your description, but it's not clear.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Jul 1 at 21:49
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    Does anyone actually say 'vade mecum' outside of academia? Commented Jul 1 at 23:14
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    If the book is dipped into for comfort rather than for reference, it might be called a bedside book but I can't find a dictionary reference. Commented Jul 1 at 23:47

1 Answer 1


Books that are read and reread over the years, books of pithy sayings, maxims, inspirational thoughts, manifestos, and such are known as "motivational" books. Once upon a time, you could walk into a bookstore and ask, Where do you keep your motivational books?

  • It's always a risk to venture an answer on a poor question. There's always somebody who takes issue anonymously and without offering any reason whatsoever. One of the shitty things about an otherwise valuable forum.
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 2 at 15:37
  • This may be close to what the OP has in mind, but the word motivational is nowadays so often used in business-related and popular-psychology contexts that it sounds odd to characterise something like the Bible as motivational, even though it is literally true.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 2 at 16:15
  • @Jsw29: Not sure why you're focusing so much on the bible when that book was presented only as an example of things read and re-read, for insight or inspiration (mind-reading OP's "reminders") and the body of the question mentions "maxims, manifesto, or aphorisms".
    – TimR
    Commented Jul 2 at 18:58

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