100 books like A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life

By Shantideva, Stephen Batchelor (translator),

Here are 100 books that A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life fans have personally recommended if you like A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Divine Comedy

Dianne Hales Author Of La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World

From my list on italy and italian.

Why am I passionate about this?

Decades ago, I fell madly, gladly, and giddily in love with Italian. This passion inspired La Bella Lingua: My Love Affair with the World’s Most Enchanting Language, which became a New York Times best-seller and won an Italian knighthood for my contributions to promoting Italy’s language. Intrigued by the world’s most famous portrait, I wrote Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, an Amazon Best Book of the Year, translated into seven languages. My most recent journeys through Italian culture are La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World and  ‘A’ Is for Amore, an e-book written during the pandemic and available free on my website.

Dianne's book list on italy and italian

Dianne Hales Why did Dianne love this book?

Long after I began studying Italian, I resisted reading Italy’s greatest poet. His classic book seemed too daunting, too distant, too dull. Then, an Italian teacher gave me the first adaptation of the La Divina Commedia that she had read as a girl: a vintage Italian Walt Disney comic book featuring Mickey Mouse (Topolino in Italian) as Dante with Minnie Mouse as his adored Beatrice.   

I was so intrigued that I bought an English translation of the Divine Comedy—several, although I’m partial to John Ciardi’s. My unanticipated reaction: Wow! Like modern readers ensnared by the wizardly world of Harry Potter, I skidded into a fully imagined alternate world. An action-packed, high-adrenalin, breath-taking, rip-roaring yarn leaped off the pages into vivid, writhing, pulsating life. If you love action-packed tales and also seek insights into the Italian soul, read The Inferno. Purgatorio and Paradiso are optional. 

By Dante Alighieri, C.H. Sisson (translator),

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Divine Comedy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Described variously as the greatest poem of the European Middle Ages and, because of the author's evangelical purpose, the `fifth Gospel', the Divine Comedy is central to the culture of the west. The poem is a spiritual autobiography in the form of a journey - the poet travels from the dark circles of the Inferno, up the mountain of Purgatory, where Virgil, his guide leaves him to encounter Beatrice in the Earthly Paradise. Dante conceived the poem as the
new epic of Christendom, and he creates a world in which reason and faith have transformed moral and social chaos into…


Book cover of Hamlet

Karl F. Zender Author Of Shakespeare and Faulkner: Selves and Others

From my list on the most wonderful American, British, and Irish writers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up on a small farm in southern Ohio, I was the first generation of my family to attend both high school and college. Literature, reading it, talking about it, studying it, was my entry into a world of larger possibilities than my family’s somewhat straitened circumstances had allowed me. Faulkner attracted me because the rural enclave in which we lived, and my neighbors, resembled locales and characters in his fiction. Shakespeare attracted me for many reasons, most notably the beauty of his language and the ability of his plays to reveal new meanings as my life experiences changed.

Karl's book list on the most wonderful American, British, and Irish writers

Karl F. Zender Why did Karl love this book?

Hamlet is one of those literary characters, like Faust, who gains an iconic, extra-literary identity. Moody, hesitant, insolent, and wracked by guilt and doubt, Hamlet marked the eruption into Western literature of self-consciousness as a literary trope. 

Understanding that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are agents of Claudius, not his true friends, Hamlet mockingly says, “You would pluck out the heart of my mystery.”  Whether considered in psychological, social, religious, historical, or political terms, that “mystery” has for centuries intrigued readers and audiences. I invite you to share that intrigue, or to return to it.

By William Shakespeare,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The Mona Lisa of literature' T. S. Eliot

In Shakespeare's verbally dazzling and eternally enigmatic exploration of conscience, madness and the nature of humanity, a young prince meets his father's ghost in the middle of the night, who accuses his own brother - now married to his widow - of murdering him. The prince devises a scheme to test the truth of the ghost's accusation, feigning wild insanity while plotting revenge. But his actions soon begin to wreak havoc on innocent and guilty alike.

Used and Recommended by the National Theatre

General Editor Stanley Wells
Edited by T. J. B.…


Book cover of Money and the Meaning of Life

George Kinder Author Of Life Planning for You: How to Design & Deliver the Life of Your Dreams

From my list on influences of the financial life planning movement.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never wanted to have anything to do with money. I wanted to live a life of meaning in nature, of poetry, of spirit, and of relationship. The problem was that I couldn’t get anyone to pay me for it. My relationship with money from the very beginning was how can I accumulate it and manage it so I could deliver this life of freedom to myself in the shortest amount of time possible. In short, how could I “life plan” myself. I am the founder and thought leader of the life planning movement in financial advice now active in 30 cultures around the world with thousands of life planning practitioners. 

George's book list on influences of the financial life planning movement

George Kinder Why did George love this book?

Jacob Needleman’s Money and the Meaning of Life is the most influential and inspiring book by far for the development of life planning movement in financial advice.

A masterful storyteller with his own set of characters, Needleman guides us into the mystery of how money works and what money is really about. Going back and forth between money’s practicalities and the deeper longings we all have for freedom, he challenges us to explore what freedom really means in relation to money.

A page-turner of speculative philosophy, I can still remember how gripping the final 20 pages were. In his exploration of money and meaning, Needleman tells the story of life planning, which is the story of each of our aspirations for freedom, and then the path to accomplish them. 

By Jacob Needleman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Money and the Meaning of Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If we understood the true role of money in our lives, writes philosopher Jacob Needleman, we would not think simply in terms of spending it or saving it. Money exerts a deep emotional influence on who we are and what we tell ourselves we can never have. Our long unwillingness to understand the emotional and spiritual effects of money on us is at the heart of why we have come to know the price of everything, and the value of nothing. Money has everything to do with the pursuit of an idealistic life, while at the same time, it is…


Book cover of Back to Beginnings: Reflections on the Tao

George Kinder Author Of Life Planning for You: How to Design & Deliver the Life of Your Dreams

From my list on influences of the financial life planning movement.

Why am I passionate about this?

I never wanted to have anything to do with money. I wanted to live a life of meaning in nature, of poetry, of spirit, and of relationship. The problem was that I couldn’t get anyone to pay me for it. My relationship with money from the very beginning was how can I accumulate it and manage it so I could deliver this life of freedom to myself in the shortest amount of time possible. In short, how could I “life plan” myself. I am the founder and thought leader of the life planning movement in financial advice now active in 30 cultures around the world with thousands of life planning practitioners. 

George's book list on influences of the financial life planning movement

George Kinder Why did George love this book?

Translated many times under different titles, this is my favorite edition, influencing my life planning journey. The text is an intermingling of Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian thought.

Huanchu Daoren (who goes by various names) was a retired civil servant, as were many great philosophers and mystics in China. His book is written in brief paragraphs, each paragraph is a teaching of ethics or of spirit.

I carried a tiny version of the book that fit in the palm of my hand wherever I went for about ten years when I was going through the toughest time in my life just to give myself encouragement. Whenever I dipped into it, reading three or four sentences, I would feel as if there was something more profound than what I was going through. 

By Huanchu Daoren, Thomas Cleary (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Back to Beginnings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The secrets of serenity and wisdom in a changing world can be found in these Taoist teachings, written during the late 16th century in the Ming dynasty. The author's reflections are an outgrowth of his upbringing in the science of neo-Confucianism, a lifelong career in public service, and his retirement at age 62 into Taoist apprenticeship.


Book cover of Tsongkhapa: A Buddha in the Land of Snows

Patrick Ussher Author Of Stoicism & Western Buddhism: A Reflection on Two Philosophical Ways of Life

From my list on modern-day adaptations of Buddhism and Stoicism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve long been interested in what different traditions have to say about how to live our best lives. While a graduate student, I naturally drifted towards studying both Stoicism and Buddhism and wrote my MA dissertation on a comparison of both (which ultimately, much later, became the basis for my book). During my time as a Ph.D. student, I was actively involved in the Modern Stoicism project. As well as running the blog for the project, I was also involved, along with a team of academics and psychotherapists, in creating adaptations of that ancient philosophy for the modern world. I also draw on both philosophies in coping with chronic illness.

Patrick's book list on modern-day adaptations of Buddhism and Stoicism

Patrick Ussher Why did Patrick love this book?

This, the biography of a 14th-century Tibetan Buddhist master, might seem out of place for a list that is about modern-day adaptations of ancient philosophies. However, I wanted to include it as a reminder that while philosophical reform can be all well and good, sometimes the masters of yesteryear are those from whom we still have the most to learn.

I find this book magical: its lucid descriptions of the rich intellectual and spiritual tradition of 14th-century Tibetan culture, its monastic curriculum and debates, and the evident commitment to enlightenment among its many protagonists, all of these things have much to teach us moderns who might just have a tendency to get a little cute when we think that we know best.  

By Thupten Jinpa,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The new standard work and definitive biography of Tsongkhapa, one of the principle founders of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism--the school of the Dalai Lamas.

In this groundbreaking addition to the Lives of the Masters series, Thupten Jinpa, a scholar-practitioner and long-time translator for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, offers the most comprehensive portrait available of Jé Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), one of the greatest Buddhist teachers in history. A devout monastic, Tsongkhapa took on the difficult task of locating and studying all of the Indian Buddhist classics available in Tibet in his day. He went on to synthesize this knowledge…


Book cover of Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill

Paul J. Zak Author Of Immersion: The Science of the Extraordinary and the Source of Happiness

From my list on happiness that will improve your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my view, there is no bigger quest than to understand how to live a long and fulfilled life. Most of my professional life has focused on running neuroscience experiments in my academic laboratory and developing technologies for companies I have started to understand and increase happiness. I have devoted 20 years to this quest and I continue to work to build a happier and healthier world. I am one of the most cited scientists in this area and also regularly communicate to the general public through TED talks, books, magazine articles, and public lectures.    

Paul's book list on happiness that will improve your life

Paul J. Zak Why did Paul love this book?

I like and dislike this book! Ricard is a scientist and a Buddhist monk, and is reported to be the happiest man on earth. I know, respect, and like Ricard, and this book harkens back to the Stoics by suggesting that moderation is the key to happiness. My research says yes and no to this.  Ricard is correct that spending too much time worrying about the past or future will drag down one's happiness. My research, and that of many others, have shown the positive effect of meditation on happiness and here Ricard is masterful in explaining how and why meditation is important. Calmness and self-insight are very important to avoiding depression and setting the conditions for happiness, but, as Ricard notes, we must be in communities of other people to truly thrive. A little wildness is awesome, go for it!

By Matthieu Ricard,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Combining science and spirit, a cell biologist turned Buddhist monk blends new scientific research with traditional Western philosophy to reveal how readily attainable happiness is.


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

Christine Christman Author Of Do You Want to Be Well? A Memoir of Spiritual Healing

From my list on grief and spirituality.

Why am I passionate about this?

As I formed my self-identity I considered myself a spiritual seeker, always straying beyond the boundaries of my more conservative Christian communities. As a minister’s wife, I had a wide experience of Christian-based faith and community. When my husband died instantly of a heart attack, my entire spiritual foundation seemed to crumble. This book is a memoir of my journey to rebuild a new spirituality, founded on the remnants of my original faith and expanding to meet my new and changing experience of who I am. I have a master’s degree in English so the study of literature, mythology, and poetry also strongly influenced my journey, my story, and this memoir.

Christine's book list on grief and spirituality

Christine Christman Why did Christine love this book?

I learned in my grief that the experience of loss can open the door wide for personal growth and transformation. Pema Chodron’s book brings the possibility of gentle healing through the lens of Buddhist practice. After the first year of loss, as I was beginning to regain some stability, this book helped me find my way into new spiritual practices. I used it to expand beyond old beliefs that no longer served me and into new ways of thinking and being. It grounded me in the context of suffering, helping me to see that I wasn’t alone; that suffering was nothing to be ashamed of. And her stories offered some practical ideas that I hadn’t found in my Christian spiritual practice.

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 The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness

Bertrand Jouvenot Author Of Managing Softly

From my list on Buddhist philosophy and mindfulness.

Why am I passionate about this?

Bertrand Jouvenot is a French marketing influencer and prominent writer on business, management, marketing, branding, and digital. He has spent over twenty years in a variety of senior marketing roles. He now teaches at several business and fashion schools for Chinese and European students as well as consulting to various businesses. Bertrand lives in Paris, France, and writes for Le Monde, The Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Mediapart, Stratégies, le Journal du Net, Les Echos, and Influencia, the prestigious French quarterly print magazine spotting trends in marketing, communication, and creation. 

Bertrand's book list on Buddhist philosophy and mindfulness

Bertrand Jouvenot Why did Bertrand love this book?

The author is a world-renowned Buddhist teacher. Using the basic meditation practices the author provides, the reader can discover paths through his problems, transforming obstacles into opportunities to recognize the unlimited potential of his own minds. The monk invites us to join him in unlocking the secrets to finding joy and contentment in the everyday life. The book offers an illuminating perspective on the art of meditation and is a handbook for transforming our minds, bodies, and lives.

By Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Joy of Living as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For millennia, Buddhists have enjoyed the limitless benefits of meditation. But how does it work? And why? The principles behind this ancient practice have long eluded some of the best minds in modern science. Until now.

This groundbreaking work, with a foreword by bestselling author Daniel Goleman, invites us to join in unlocking the secrets behind the practice of meditation. Working with neuroscientists, the author provides clear insights into modern research, which indicates that systematic training in meditation can enhance activity in areas of the brain associated with happiness and compassion.

With an infectious joy and insatiable curiosity, Yongey Mingyur…


Book cover of Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist — One Woman's Spiritual Journey

Cyndi Lee Author Of May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga, and Changing My Mind

From my list on Buddhist and yoga biographies and memoirs.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a practicing yogi and Buddhist for 50 years. For me these lifelong practices started with reading, or as my Zen teacher calls it, being a “Book Buddhist.” Buddhism and Yoga are not typically called “faith-based” practices, but there is an element of faith — it is faith in the process. But you can’t have faith until you have experienced the benefits of practice. The unconventional lives of the yogis told in these books illustrate for all of us how we, too, can develop wisdom, joy, and compassion. I found each of these books really, really fun to read and I’ve gained much insight and inspiration for my own spiritual path.

Cyndi's book list on Buddhist and yoga biographies and memoirs

Cyndi Lee Why did Cyndi love this book?

Jan Willis is one of our most respected American Buddhist teachers and scholars. Like so many Americans who identify as Buddhists, Jan Willis’ story begins with a Christian background. Willis was raised in the Baptist church in Alabama where she endured Jim Crow racism and later marched with MLK, Jr. She writes about the obstacles she faced in her Ivy League education and how she eventually met her Buddhist guru in India. This story is so resonant for me because it reminds me that we can evolve and grow on our spiritual journey without rejecting any part of who we already are. I read this book when it was published in 2001 and it continues to inspire me as a Buddhist, an American, and a writer.

By Jan Willis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Jan Willis is not Baptist or Buddhist. She is simply both. Dreaming Me is the story of her life, as a child growing up in the Jim Crow South, dealing with racism in an Ivy League college, and becoming involved with the Black Panther Party. But it wasn't until meeting Lama Yeshe, a Tibetan Buddhist monk living in the mountains of Nepal, that she realized who the real Jan Willis was, and how to make the most of the life she was living.


Book cover of After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age

Guy Claxton Author Of The Heart of Buddhism: Practical Wisdom for an Agitated World

From my list on Buddhism that get to the heart of the matter.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a long-time meditator and student of Buddhism, and a retired but still active academic. I am a cognitive scientist specialising in the learnable aspects of real-world intelligence. My meditation ‘career’ started when I was an undergraduate studying psychology at Cambridge in the late 1960s, and has since taken me to America, India, and Japan, as well as to many retreats in the UK with visiting teachers from all the main branches of Buddhism. In my academic life, I have a doctorate in psycholinguistics from Oxford and have been Professor of the Learning Sciences at the University of Bristol and the Research Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning in Winchester. My books on the crossover between Eastern and Western Psychology include The Psychology of Awakening, Wholly HumanNoises from the Darkroom, and The Heart of Buddhism.

Guy's book list on Buddhism that get to the heart of the matter

Guy Claxton Why did Guy love this book?

Stephen Batchelor is an old and dear friend of mine – partly because I love his radical ‘take’ on Buddhism. He knows his traditional Buddhist stuff all right: he was a Tibetan Buddhism monk for eight years, and studied in a Korean Zen monastery for four. To some, he is a heretic because his books peel away the cultural superstitions that have befogged the Buddha’s original teachings – such as karma and reincarnation - and reveal a message that is as relevant and insightful today as it was two and a half millennia ago. But his deep and lightly-worn scholarship shines through and – to me at least – he is bang on: both down to earth and utterly inspirational.

By Stephen Batchelor,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A renowned Buddhist teacher's magnum opus, based on his fresh reading of the tradition's earliest texts

Some twenty-five centuries after the Buddha started teaching, his message continues to inspire people across the globe, including those living in predominantly secular societies. What does it mean to adapt religious practices to secular contexts?

Stephen Batchelor, an internationally known author and teacher, is committed to a secularized version of the Buddha's teachings. The time has come, he feels, to articulate a coherent ethical, contemplative, and philosophical vision of Buddhism for our age. After Buddhism, the culmination of four decades of study and practice…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, and zen?

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