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

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.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

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

Diana Winston Why did I love 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.

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…

Book cover of You Belong: A Call for Connection

Diana Winston Why did I love 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.

By Sebene Selassie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?



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,…

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

Diana Winston Why did I love 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!

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…

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

Diana Winston Why did I love 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. 

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;…

Book cover of Cave in the Snow

Diana Winston Why did I love 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!)!

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.

You might also like...

The Road from Belhaven

By Margot Livesey,

Book cover of The Road from Belhaven

Margot Livesey Author Of The Road from Belhaven

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Reader Secret orphan Professor Scottish Novelist

Margot's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

The Road from Belhaven is set in 1880s Scotland. Growing up in the care of her grandparents on Belhaven Farm, Lizzie Craig discovers as a small girl that she can see the future. But she soon realises that she must keep her gift a secret. While she can sometimes glimpse the future, she can never change it.

Nor can Lizzie change the feelings that come when a young man named Louis, visiting Belhaven for the harvest, begins to court her. Why have the adults around her never told her that the touch of a hand can change everything? When she follows Louis to Glasgow, she begins to learn the limits of his devotion and the complexities of her own affections.

The Road from Belhaven

By Margot Livesey,

What is this book about?

From the New York Times best-selling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy, a novel about a young woman whose gift of second sight complicates her coming of age in late-nineteenth-century Scotland

Growing up in the care of her grandparents on Belhaven Farm, Lizzie Craig discovers as a small child that she can see into the future. But her gift is selective—she doesn’t, for instance, see that she has an older sister who will come to join the family. As her “pictures” foretell various incidents and accidents, she begins to realize a painful truth: she may glimpse the future, but…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Buddhism, meditation, and self-actualization?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Buddhism, meditation, and self-actualization.

Buddhism Explore 265 books about Buddhism
Meditation Explore 242 books about meditation
Self-Actualization Explore 189 books about self-actualization