The best Buddhist books from lesser-known women authors to help us navigate these times

Diana Winston Author Of The Little Book of Being: Practices and Guidance for Uncovering Your Natural Awareness
By Diana Winston

Who am I?

There are so many good spiritual books out there that get little attention, especially books by women and women of color. I have been a meditation practitioner for three decades, running a mindfulness center at UCLA, and been teaching and sharing Buddhist and mindfulness teaching for 20+ years. I need my sources of inspiration too! Each of these books forced me to think—and brought new depth to my own meditation practice. I am interested in how the Buddhist and mindfulness teachings, which I love so deeply, can help us build resiliency and weather the challenges of the intersecting, current ecological, political and social crises. These books are a great start.


I wrote...

The Little Book of Being: Practices and Guidance for Uncovering Your Natural Awareness

By Diana Winston,

Book cover of The Little Book of Being: Practices and Guidance for Uncovering Your Natural Awareness

What is my book about?

This book is a guide to what I call natural awareness—the luminous, radiant quality of mind—that I believe everyone can have access to. Think about being in nature and feeling at peace, at home, connected… it’s part of being human. The book is filled with short chapters and “glimpse practices” for us to explore natural awareness along with other meditation practices. I weave in a lot of personal stories, instructions, and ways to practice in the midst of daily life. People have enjoyed the book for demystifying meditation, while showing that profound states of well-being are possible for every one of us! This book has been found useful for both newbies and those with a long-term meditation practice.

The books I picked & why

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A Bigger Sky: Awakening a Fierce Feminine Buddhism

By Pamela Weiss,

Book cover of A Bigger Sky: Awakening a Fierce Feminine Buddhism

Why this book?

This book tells the story of Pamela’s spiritual journey into Zen and other meditative practices. It’s a memoir laden with spiritual stories, a fight against patriarchal norms, and her take on contemporary issues. She offers a feminist critique of aspects of Buddhism while sharing her hard-won wisdom. Her writing is beautiful and thought-provoking.

A Bigger Sky: Awakening a Fierce Feminine Buddhism

By Pamela Weiss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Bigger Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Reimagining Buddhism through a feminine lens: A powerful memoir of healing, strength, and spiritual awakening.

Written by the first and only layperson to receive full dharma transmission in the Suzuki Roshi Soto Zen lineage, A Bigger Sky explores what it means to traverse the gaps of a Buddhism created by and for men, navigate the seemingly contradictory domains of secular and spiritual life, and walk a path through the heart of the world. Blending memoir, Buddhist practice, and cultural observation, Weiss reorients Buddhism through a wider and more inclusive feminine lens. Her personal and spiritual journey speaks to the bits…


You Belong: A Call for Connection

By Sebene Selassie,

Book cover of You Belong: A Call for Connection

Why this book?

This book is unusual in so many ways. It weaves together Buddhist wisdom, stories from the author’s life, and a helpful nuanced discussion of intergenerational trauma, racism, implicit bias, and how we can all heed the call to find belonging. I love her down-to-earth conversational style while simultaneously making us think, question our views, and even take action.

You Belong: A Call for Connection

By Sebene Selassie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Belong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A POWERFUL WORK OF SPIRITUALITY AND ANTI-RACISM"-Publishers Weekly

"IF YOU READ ONE BOOK IN 2020, MAKE IT THIS ONE."-Tricycle

From much-admired meditation expert Sebene Selassie, You Belong is a call to action, exploring our tangled relationship with belonging, connection, and each other

You are not separate. You never were. You never will be.

We are not separate from each other. But we don't always believe it, and we certainly don't always practice it. In fact, we often practice the opposite-disconnection and domination. From unconscious bias to "cancel culture," denial of our inherent interconnection limits our own freedom.

In You Belong,…


Luminous Darkness: An Engaged Buddhist Approach to Embracing the Unknown

By Deborah Eden Tull,

Book cover of Luminous Darkness: An Engaged Buddhist Approach to Embracing the Unknown

Why this book?

Follow Eden on a journey into all the fecundity of darkness—into the body, nature, silence, world challenges. She is an amazing guide to a shadow side of the Buddhist practice that I have not seen elsewhere. She shows how these neglected aspects of ourselves are actually a path to awakening and healing. It’s a pretty remarkable and unusual book and it just came out!

Luminous Darkness: An Engaged Buddhist Approach to Embracing the Unknown

By Deborah Eden Tull,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Luminous Darkness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A resonant call to explore the darkness in life, in nature, and in consciousness—including difficult emotions like uncertainty, grief, fear, and xenophobia—through teachings, embodied meditations, and mindful inquiry that provide us with a powerful path to healing.

Darkness is deeply misunderstood in today’s world; yet it offers powerful medicine, serenity, strength, healing, and regeneration. All insight, vision, creativity, and revelation arise from darkness. It is through learning to stay present and meet the dark with curiosity rather than judgment that we connect to an unwavering light within. Welcoming darkness with curiosity, rather than fear or judgment, enables us to access…


We Were Made for These Times: Ten Lessons for Moving Through Change, Loss, and Disruption

By Kaira Jewel Lingo,

Book cover of We Were Made for These Times: Ten Lessons for Moving Through Change, Loss, and Disruption

Why this book?

This book of short essays is a “jewel” in its simplicity and timeliness. Each essay tackles Buddhist teachings through teaching stories, but also with a clear heart and guidance for living in these challenging times. Kaira Jewel is a trustworthy guide with a big, loving heart, who can help us navigate loss, loneliness, anxiety, disempowerment, and change. 

We Were Made for These Times: Ten Lessons for Moving Through Change, Loss, and Disruption

By Kaira Jewel Lingo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Were Made for These Times as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In ten concise chapters, you'll learn powerful ways to meet life's challenges with wisdom, resilience, and ease.

We all go through times when it feels like the ground is being pulled out from under us. What we relied on as steady and solid may change or even appear to vanish. In this era of global disruption, threats to our individual, social, and planetary safety abound, and at times life can feel overwhelming. Not only are loss and separation painful, but even positive changes can cause great stress. 

Yet life is full of change: birth, death, marriage, divorce; a new relationship;…


Cave in the Snow

By Vicki MacKenzie,

Book cover of Cave in the Snow

Why this book?

Ok this is a little off-theme, but I was blown away when I first read this book many years ago and needed to put it on my list. It tells the story of an English woman who lived alone in a cave 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas, practicing Buddhist meditation. I lived as a Buddhist nun in Myanmar, but only for a year, while Tenzin Palmo spent twelve years in silence. Her story is harrowing at times, illuminating, deep, and moving. One interesting tidbit—she never lay down (for 12 years!)!

Cave in the Snow

By Vicki MacKenzie,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Cave in the Snow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The biography of the Englishwoman who has become a world-renowned spiritual leader and a champion of the right of women to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Following Tenzin Palmo's life from England to India, including her seclusion in a remote cave for 12 years, leading to her decision to found a convent to revive the Togdenma lineage.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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