The best books on Buddhism, meditation, and philosophy

Maitreyabandhu Author Of Thicker than Blood (Friendship on the Buddhist Path)
By Maitreyabandhu

Who am I?

Maitreyabandhu started attending classes at the London Buddhist Centre (LBC) in 1986. He was ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order in 1990 and given the name Maitreyabandhu. Since then he has lived and worked at the LBC, teaching Buddhism and meditation, and leading retreats. He has written three books on Buddhism, Thicker than Blood: Friendship on the Buddhist Path, Life with Full Attention: A Practical Course in Mindfulness, and The Journey and the Guide: A Practical Guide in Enlightenment. Maitreyabandhu is also a prize-winning poet having written three poetry collections with Bloodaxe Books. Maitreyabandhu founded PoetryEast in 2010 where he interviews well-known artists and writers, including Antony Gormley, Wendy Cope, and Colm Tóibín. He is the co-founder, with Dr. Paramabandhu Groves, of Breathing Space, the LBC’s health and wellbeing project.


I wrote...

Thicker than Blood (Friendship on the Buddhist Path)

By Maitreyabandhu,

Book cover of Thicker than Blood (Friendship on the Buddhist Path)

What is my book about?

To see a friend act out of a genuine desire to become more than he is, to see him speak truthfully, with integrity and kindness, is a sight of such beauty that it is almost unparalleled. This is a book about friendship - about the Buddhist ideals of spiritual friendship and the author's personal experience. By turns moving, funny, and inspirational, Maitreyabandhu's account is as compelling as a good novel.

The books I picked & why

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Living with Awareness: A Guide to the Satipatthana Sutta

By Sangharakshita,

Book cover of Living with Awareness: A Guide to the Satipatthana Sutta

Why this book?

There’s a lot of writing out there about mindfulness and meditation, but this book is really the place to start. Sangharakshita writes with a depth of clarity that manages to be inspiring, philosophical, and practical all at the same time. I can find books on mindfulness worthy and dull. This book is neither. My copy is covered with highlighter pen!

Living with Awareness: A Guide to the Satipatthana Sutta

By Sangharakshita,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Living with Awareness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A discussion of the issues raised in the Satipatthana Sutta, the foundational Buddhist discourse on meditation and the importance of mindfulness and awareness in daily life. We can learn to live more fully by living every moment to the full.


Change Your Mind: A practical guide to Buddhist meditation

By Paramananda,

Book cover of Change Your Mind: A practical guide to Buddhist meditation

Why this book?

More and more people are drawn to meditation but it’s easy to be confounded by all those books and online teachings. This book is a great way to start. A simple guide to Buddhist meditation – to what it means, and how to do it – it’s practical, clear, helpful, and short.

Change Your Mind: A practical guide to Buddhist meditation

By Paramananda,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Change Your Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Provides traditional practices for the readers to learn how to exchange stress and anxiety for calm and clarity of mind, and transform anger and fear into kindness and self confidence. The author guides on meditation with anecdotes and tips, from his experience of teaching meditation of more than 15 years.


The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

By Iain McGilchrist,

Book cover of The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

Why this book?

This is far and away the most important book I’ve read in years. It’s destined to become a classic – Philip Pullman and John Cleese have been enthusiastic about it. I knew nothing about brain science when I started reading it, but I was deeply inspired by the book. An essential exploration, not just into brain science and consciousness but into culture, society and the arts.

The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

By Iain McGilchrist,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Master and His Emissary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A pioneering exploration of the differences between the brain's right and left hemispheres and their effects on society, history, and culture-"one of the few contemporary works deserving classic status" (Nicholas Shakespeare, The Times, London)

"Persuasively argues that our society is suffering from the consequences of an over-dominant left hemisphere losing touch with its natural regulative 'master' the right. Brilliant and disturbing."-Salley Vickers, a Guardian Best Book of the Year

"I know of no better exposition of the current state of functional brain neuroscience."-W. F. Bynum, TLS

Why is the brain divided? The difference between right and left hemispheres has been…


Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders,

Book cover of Lincoln in the Bardo

Why this book?

Saunders’s Lincoln in the Bardo is the most exciting, enriching, and funny novel I’ve read in years. Told mostly by ghosts, Saunders’s book manages to be clever, witty, vivid, and deeply moving. I think of it as being the first major Buddhist modern novel – although you don’t need to know anything about Buddhism to read it. He’s even invented a new form to write it!

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Lincoln in the Bardo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2017 A STORY OF LOVE AFTER DEATH 'A masterpiece' Zadie Smith 'Extraordinary' Daily Mail 'Breathtaking' Observer 'A tour de force' The Sunday Times The extraordinary first novel by the bestselling, Folio Prize-winning, National Book Award-shortlisted George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War The American Civil War rages while President Lincoln's beloved eleven-year-old son lies gravely ill. In a matter of days, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns…


The Essential Sangharakshita: A Half-Century of Writings from the Founder of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order

By Urgyen Sangharakshita, Emily Stout,

Book cover of The Essential Sangharakshita: A Half-Century of Writings from the Founder of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order

Why this book?

Buddhism is still misunderstood in the modern world. It can seem all fuzzy ‘being-in-the-moment’ meditation or a rather cold, analytical non-self philosophy. Sangharakshita is the founder of the Triratna Buddhist Order and my own teacher (I knew him personally). This book collects together some of his essential teaching and thought, illuminating ancient Buddhism wisdom for a modern world.

The Essential Sangharakshita: A Half-Century of Writings from the Founder of the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order

By Urgyen Sangharakshita, Emily Stout,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Essential Sangharakshita as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Profoundly knowledgeable and articulate, and equally at home with science, philosophy, myth, art, and poetry, Urgyen Sangharakshita uses every inner avenue to communicate the timeless Dharma to the Western mind. Engaging both the intellect and the heart countless times in a single chapter, the author draws remarkably apt examples from sources as diverse as Orwell, Aeschylus, and Jane Austen. This distilled volume is a primer to the breadth and depth of Buddhist thought and practice.


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