The best books about Zen awareness practice

Who am I?

These books attempt to describe the indescribable, pointing to the unknowable, only the living of which makes living living. What they have in common is that they invite us to practice along with the author, not giving any answers, but inviting us to look. I fell in love with Awareness Practice in my youth and through the decades that love has only deepened. I continue to love this journey of exploration and I hope the books that I have written contribute to that same experience for others. There is nothing more magical than having a direct experience of encountering who we really are, beyond ego’s dualistic world of opposites.


I wrote...

There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate

By Cheri Huber,

Book cover of There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate

What is my book about?

If you have been successful with what you have been taught about how life works, and if you have been satisfied with what society has given you, please don’t read this book. It would be a waste of your money to buy it and a waste of your time to read it.

HOWEVER, if you have spent a good deal of time, energy and money trying to improve yourself, wondering what is wrong with you and trying to change yourself in order to make your life work, this is the book for you. We will attempt to explain that you have been unable to fix yourself because there is nothing wrong with you, but there is quite a bit wrong with what you have been taught to believe about yourself and your life. Most people live and die completely trapped in self-hate and never know it. So much more is possible. This book reveals how self-hate works and how to let it go.

The books I picked & why

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What Is Zen?

By D.T. Suzuki,

Book cover of What Is Zen?

Why this book?

As I began my search to make some kind of sense of my life, I started with philosophy and moved to religion. When I came across this book, I intuitively sensed that the author knew what I wanted to know. I had no idea what he was talking about but my heart sang with every page. This was my first experience of being taken to the “place” from which the author wrote. Reading it was like sitting at the feet of the Master, aware of a lack of comprehension while witnessing a living example of what the heart intuitively knows.

What Is Zen?

By D.T. Suzuki,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Is Zen? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of the most influential books ever written on Zen Buddhism: A fascinating study of this ancient discipline.

One of the leading twentieth-century works on Zen,D.T. Suzuki's Zen and Japanese Culture is an invaluable source for those wishing to understand Zen concepts in the context of Japanese life and art.

What is Zen offers a general introduction to the concepts and philosophy of Zen, including Mr. Suzuki's observations of its effects on Japanese art culture, and his explorations of Zen and the study of Confucianism.

In simple, often poetic language, enhanced by anecdotes and poetry, D.T. Suzuki describes what…


Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings

By Paul Reps, Nyogen Senzaki,

Book cover of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings

Why this book?

This was my second foray into fascination with what I knew I didn’t understand but desperately sought to. The way this book is written is the method to the understanding it represents. It invites a practitioner to stay with it to receive its gifts and makes for an enduring companion. This book has traveled with me through decades. Each time I read it, it mirrors for me the depth of understanding that is current and what there is to look forward to.

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings

By Paul Reps, Nyogen Senzaki,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Zen Flesh, Zen Bones as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"It has stayed with me for the last 30 years, a classic portraying Zen mind to our linear thinking." -Phil Jackson, Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls and author of Sacred Hoops

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones offers a collection of accessible, primary Zen sources so that readers can contemplate the meaning of Zen for themselves. Within the pages, readers will find:
101 Zen Stories, a collection of tales that recount actual experiences of Chinese and Japanese Zen teachers over a period of more than five centuries The Gateless Gate, the famous thirteenth-century collection of Zen koans Ten Bulls, a twelfth…


My Religion, What Shall We Do? & The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

By Leo Tolstoi,

Book cover of My Religion, What Shall We Do? & The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

Why this book?

When a clearly enlightened spiritual master speaks to us, our first reaction is often resistance because the message is designed to end the reign of egocentricity and return us to Authentic Being. To me, everything Leo Tolstoy wrote in his maturity offers the same possibility, but none so starkly as My Religion. As with reading Mahatma Gandhi, we have the opportunity to witness the deep practice of an aspirant grappling with transcending the suffering of the human condition, in much the same way John of the Cross describes the “dark night of the soul.” It illustrates every person’s spiritual journey and the uncompromising nature of the path to awakening.

My Religion, What Shall We Do? & The Journal of Leo Tolstoi

By Leo Tolstoi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Religion, What Shall We Do? & The Journal of Leo Tolstoi as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Journal of Leo Tolstoi is a compilation of Tolstoy's journal entries. They entries range from 1895 through 1899.

Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (9 September [O.S. 28 August] 1828 - 20 November [O.S. 7 November] 1910), usually referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time. He received multiple nominations for Nobel Prize in Literature every year from 1902 to 1906, and nominations for Nobel Peace Prize in 1901, 1902 and 1910, and his miss of the prize is a major Nobel prize controversy.


Self-Awareness Practice Instructions

By Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Sankara, Annamalai Swami, Muruganar, Sadhu Om, Anonymous Awareness

Book cover of Self-Awareness Practice Instructions

Why this book?

If Japanese Zen is best expressed through haiku, Bhagwan Shri Ramana Maharshi’s teachings are the Vedantic equivalent. Simple, direct, straightforward – just the bare minimum a person needs to practice to awaken. This little book distills his teachings and takes the practitioner into a process designed to, as D.T. Suzuki might say it, “grasp the ungraspable nature of the ungraspable.”

Self-Awareness Practice Instructions

By Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Sankara, Annamalai Swami, Muruganar, Sadhu Om, Anonymous Awareness

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Self-Awareness Practice Instructions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The most direct and rapid means to Self Realization goes by various names including: Self Inquiry, Self Abidance, Self Attention, Self Awareness, Abiding as Awareness, Awareness of Awareness, Awareness Aware of Itself, Awareness Watching Awareness. The purpose of the Self Awareness Practice is to live in the eternal bliss that is your true Self. This book has all new Palatino 15 type for crisp clear easy reading. The quotes in Chapter One are the same as the quotes in Chapter (Step) Seven from the book The Seven Steps to Awakening. Chapters Two and Three are essentially the same as Chapters…


A Gentleman in Moscow

By Amor Towles,

Book cover of A Gentleman in Moscow

Why this book?

What originally drew me to spiritual practice was the desire to know that I would be ok if I were ever in a wheelchair or a concentration camp. If I were trapped without an ability to escape my circumstances, could I be happy? A Gentleman in Moscow is, to me, a beautiful exploration of the answer to that question. Count Rostov is given a life sentence: confinement to the hotel where he lives. His story is an articulation of how one, moment by moment, accepts, adapts, and thrives when one’s basic choices are removed. In essence, the book is a how-to manual for the transcendence of the spirit over circumstances.

A Gentleman in Moscow

By Amor Towles,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked A Gentleman in Moscow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mega-bestseller with more than 2 million readers, soon to be a major television series

From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lincoln Highway and Rules of Civility, a beautifully transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in zen, Moscow, and Leo Tolstoy?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about zen, Moscow, and Leo Tolstoy.

Zen Explore 70 books about zen
Moscow Explore 39 books about Moscow
Leo Tolstoy Explore 22 books about Leo Tolstoy

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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