The best books introducing Buddhism to western readers

Why am I passionate about this?

Dinty W. Moore is the author of The Accidental Buddhist: Mindfulness, Enlightenment, and Sitting Still, American Style as well as The Mindful Writer. He was raised Catholic but found later in life that the simple teachings of Buddhism made his life calmer, better, and less guilt-ridden.


I wrote...

The Accidental Buddhist: Mindfulness, Enlightenment, and Sitting Still

By Dinty W. Moore,

Book cover of The Accidental Buddhist: Mindfulness, Enlightenment, and Sitting Still

What is my book about?

In an era when many of us yearn for an escape from a culture of noise and narcissism, this book takes us into the physical and spiritual geography of Buddhism, American-style: from a weekend at a mountain retreat for corporate executives learning effective ways to cope with stress, to a visit with a Zen teacher holding classes in an old Quaker farmhouse, to a meeting with a Catholic priest who’s also a Zen master.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Mindfulness in Plain English

Dinty W. Moore Why did I love this book?

Too many books purporting to explain basic Buddhist teachings to the uninitiated quickly bog down in jargon and philosophy, but Bhante Gunaratana, a Sri Lankan monk living and teaching in West Virginia, offers clear, practical, but authentic interpretations that are fully accessible and inspirational. Mindfulness in Plain English is a classic modern text, essential for anyone wanting to understand the simple truth of mindfulness practice.

By Bhante Henepola Gunaratana,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mindfulness in Plain English as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A masterpiece.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness in Plain English was first published in 1994, is one of the bestselling — and most influential — books in the field of mindfulness. It’s easy to see why.

Author Bhante Gunaratana, a renowned meditation master, takes us step by step through the myths, realities, and benefits of meditation and the practice of mindfulness. The book showcases Bhante’s trademark clarity and wit as he explores the tool of meditation, what it does, and how to make it work.
 
This book is:
A best-selling introduction to mindfulness Full of practical advice on developing a meditation practice…


Book cover of Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Dinty W. Moore Why did I love this book?

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh removes all the mystery from basic Buddhist practices of breathing and mindfulness and shows us how our everyday activities, such as walking, talking with friends, even washing the dishes, can be moments of spiritual awakening. His gentle approach has earned him hundreds of thousands of followers and his wisdom is boundless. This book is a great start, but Nhat Hanh, a peace activist, teacher, and community leader, has written many more, and all of them are brilliant and inspirational.

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Peace Is Every Step as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'This is a very worthwhile book. It can change individual lives and the life of our society.' The Dalai Lama

Lucidly and beautifully written, Peace is Every Step contains commentaries and meditations, personal anecdotes and stories from Nhat Hanh's experiences as a peace activist, teacher, and community leader. It begins where the reader already is - in the kitchen, office, driving a car, walking in a park - and shows how deep meditative presence is available now. Nhat Hanh provides exercises to increase our awareness of our own body and mind through conscious breathing, which can bring immediate joy and…


Book cover of When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Dinty W. Moore Why did I love this book?

Appreciating the beauty around us and feeling calm inside can seem easy when all goes well in our lives, but Pema Chödrön's When Things Fall Apart offers insight into how the basic Buddhist teaching can be essential lifelines during the most difficult times. Chödrön demonstrates with ease and compassion how our anxiety and fear can be turned into opportunities for growth, and she offers, most of all, hope for those who feel that their lives are “falling apart.” Even Oprah is a fan.

By Pema Chödrön,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked When Things Fall Apart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pema Choedroen reveals the vast potential for happiness, wisdom and courage even in the most painful circumstances.

Pema Choedroen teaches that there is a fundamental opportunity for happiness right within our reach, yet we usually miss it - ironically, while we are caught up in attempt to escape pain and suffering.

This accessible guide to compassionate living shows us how we can use painful emotions to cultivate wisdom, compassion and courage, ways of communication that lead to openness and true intimacy with others, practices for reversing our negative habitual patterns, methods for working with chaotic situations and ways to cultivate…


Book cover of Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

Dinty W. Moore Why did I love this book?

A stress reduction expert with a PhD in molecular biology, Kabat-Zinn shows us the science behind meditation and mindfulness by examining how the human brain reacts to stress and how breathing can alter unconscious patterns and involuntary reactions. Kabat-Zinn’s work has transformed the teaching of mindfulness not just in medicine and psychology, but in prisons, professional sports, the corporate world, and in schools. If you want to know how it all works and why, this is the book for you.

By Jon Kabat-Zinn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Explains how anyone can use mindfulness--the art of living each moment fully as it happens--to reduce anxiety, achieve inner peace, and enrich life.


Book cover of Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

Dinty W. Moore Why did I love this book?

Sharon Salzberg understands that “the love we give” is every bit as important as the love we receive, and Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness is an excellent introduction to her teachings. This guidebook for those seeking ”radiant joy” amidst the stress of modern life offers readers the path toward loving ourselves first so as to love others better.

By Sharon Salzberg,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Lovingkindness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Throughout our lives we long to love ourselves more deeply and find a greater sense of connection with others. Our fear of intimacy—both with others and with ourselves—creates feelings of pain and longing. But these feelings can also awaken in us the desire for freedom and the willingness to take up the spiritual path.

In this inspiring book, longtime meditation practitioner and teacher Sharon Salzberg shows how the Buddhist path can help us discover the radiant, joyful heart within each one of us, drawing on Buddhist teachings, wisdom from various traditions, her personal experiences, and guided meditation exercises. With these…


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Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

Book cover of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

Antonieta Contreras Author Of Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

As a trauma therapist and dedicated researcher, I love uncovering valuable insights within lesser-known books. There are hidden gems, free from the pressure of commercial success, crafted by authors deeply committed to research, understanding, and the art of writing itself. Their dedication resonates with me, as I believe in the profound value of information and the power of critical thinking. Through my own book, Traumatization and Its Aftermath, I aim to emphasize that psychological concepts often lose their depth in translation and my mission is spreading awareness and fostering a deeper understanding of trauma and its intricate facets. With that idea in mind, I chose these five titles. 

Antonieta's book list on uncovering the human experience and exploring the depths of trauma

What is my book about?

A fresh take on the difference between trauma and hardship in order to help accurately spot the difference and avoid over-generalizations.

The book integrates the latest findings in brain science, child development, psycho-social context, theory, and clinical experiences to make the case that trauma is much more than a cluster of symptoms to be tamed, but instead best understood as development gone off course, away from growth and towards (only) survival.

This book prompts a profound shift in perception, inviting to view trauma as an intricate and diverse experience, a point of view that ultimately leads to sharper treatment and, hopefully, more healing. It encourages a transition from asking, "What happened to you?" to the deeper question, "What is your relationship with what happened to you?"

Traumatization and Its Aftermath: A Systemic Approach to Understanding and Treating Trauma Disorders

By Antonieta Contreras,

What is this book about?

The book is comprehensive, bold, and practical-a much-needed resource for the assessment and treatment of trauma. Instead of the traditional focus on the overall importance of healing, Traumatization and its Aftermath decodes why some people don't heal as easily as others, analyzes the various failures of diagnosis, and explains how to make therapeutic interventions truly effective.

This book offers a systemic deep dive into traumatization that clarifies myths and misinformation about the entire spectrum of trauma and provides both clinicians and non-clinicians with the right level of validation, preventive measures, conceptualization methodology, assessment tools, and healing facts that have not…


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