100 books like Everyday Zen

By Charlotte Joko Beck,

Here are 100 books that Everyday Zen fans have personally recommended if you like Everyday Zen. 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 Street Zen: The Life and Work of Issan Dorsey

Koshin Paley Ellison Author Of Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up

From my list on an introduction to Zen.

Who am I?

Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison is an author, Soto Zen teacher, and Jungian psychotherapist. Koshin co-founded the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, which offers contemplative approaches to care through education, personal caregiving, and Zen practice. He is the author of Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up. And the co-editor of Awake at the Bedside: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End of Life Care. He is a recognized Zen teacher by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, White Plum Asanga, and American Zen Teachers Association. 

Koshin's book list on an introduction to Zen

Koshin Paley Ellison Why did Koshin love this book?

This book inspired my own integration of service and Zen. Issan Dorsey is a person who did not hold back. This portrait of a teacher whose creativity, love, honesty, joy, and compassion continues to awaken new possibilities for engaged Buddhism.

By David Schneider,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Drag queen. Prostitute. Drug addict. American bodhisattva.

These words describe the unlikely persona of Issan Dorsey, one of the most beloved teachers to emerge in American Zen. From his early days as a gorgeous female impersonator to the LSD experiences that set him on the spiritual path, Issan's life was never conventional. In 1989, after twenty years of Zen practice, he became the Founding Abbot of San Francisco's Hartford Street Zen Center, where he established Maitri Hospice for AIDS patients. Featuring Bernie Glassman's foreword to the second edition, as well as a new foreword by Koshin Paley Ellison, Street Zen…


Book cover of Zen Meditation in Plain English

Koshin Paley Ellison Author Of Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up

From my list on an introduction to Zen.

Who am I?

Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison is an author, Soto Zen teacher, and Jungian psychotherapist. Koshin co-founded the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, which offers contemplative approaches to care through education, personal caregiving, and Zen practice. He is the author of Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up. And the co-editor of Awake at the Bedside: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End of Life Care. He is a recognized Zen teacher by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, White Plum Asanga, and American Zen Teachers Association. 

Koshin's book list on an introduction to Zen

Koshin Paley Ellison Why did Koshin love this book?

I love this book and find myself rereading it each year. It is the first book I recommend for my students and for anyone who is curious about the practice of Zen. Daishin has a depth of practice with a tenderness and love for the practice that is palpable. 

By John Daishin Buksbazen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Zen Meditation in Plain English as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An excellent, practical introduction to Zen meditation. Written in a warm and easily accessible style, this book appeals to anyone with an interest in meditation, Zen, or, as is often the case today, a combination of the two. The book emphasizes the importance of receiving good instruction and of finding groups to practice with, yet it lays out the necessary steps to practice Zen meditation on your own. The book includes easily followed exercises to help the reader along. For anyone looking to uncover a clear and insightful path into the philosophy and practice of Zen meditation, this book represents…


Book cover of Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice

Koshin Paley Ellison Author Of Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up

From my list on an introduction to Zen.

Who am I?

Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison is an author, Soto Zen teacher, and Jungian psychotherapist. Koshin co-founded the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, which offers contemplative approaches to care through education, personal caregiving, and Zen practice. He is the author of Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up. And the co-editor of Awake at the Bedside: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End of Life Care. He is a recognized Zen teacher by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, White Plum Asanga, and American Zen Teachers Association. 

Koshin's book list on an introduction to Zen

Koshin Paley Ellison Why did Koshin love this book?

It's a perfect follow-up for after reading Zen Meditation in Plain English. Uchiyama Roshi’s clarity, warmth and rigor are a gateway into the practice. It is a jewel of a book that continues to illuminate Zen practice as an integrative life practice. I am so deeply appreciative for this book.

By Kosho Uchiyama, Shohaku Okumura (editor), Tom Wright (editor)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Opening the Hand of Thought as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For over thirty years, Opening the Hand of Thought has offered an introduction to Zen Buddhism and meditation unmatched in clarity and power. This is the revised edition of Kosho Uchiyama's singularly incisive classic.

This new edition contains even more useful material: new prefaces, an index, and extended endnotes, in addition to a revised glossary. As Jisho Warner writes in her preface, Opening the Hand of Thought "goes directly to the heart of Zen practice... showing how Zen Buddhism can be a deep and life-sustaining activity." She goes on to say, "Uchiyama looks at what a person is, what a…


Book cover of Appreciate Your Life: The Essence of Zen Practice

Koshin Paley Ellison Author Of Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up

From my list on an introduction to Zen.

Who am I?

Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison is an author, Soto Zen teacher, and Jungian psychotherapist. Koshin co-founded the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, which offers contemplative approaches to care through education, personal caregiving, and Zen practice. He is the author of Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up. And the co-editor of Awake at the Bedside: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End of Life Care. He is a recognized Zen teacher by the Soto Zen Buddhist Association, White Plum Asanga, and American Zen Teachers Association. 

Koshin's book list on an introduction to Zen

Koshin Paley Ellison Why did Koshin love this book?

We need to learn from our ancestors. Taizan Maezumi Roshi (1931-1995), was one of the first Japanese Zen masters to bring Zen to the West and founding abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles and Zen Mountain Center in Idyllwild, California. This inspiring collection of teachings explore zazen and Zen koans, how to appreciate your life as the life of the Buddha, and the essential matter of life and death. As Maezumi Roshi says, this book is a companion to "be intimate with your life."

By Taizan Maezumi, Eve Myonen Marko (editor), Wendy Egyoku Nakao (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A collection of short, inspiring teachings on Zen koans, the Buddha, and more—from a leader in introducing Zen Buddhism to the West
 
Here is the first major collection of the teachings of Taizan Maezumi Roshi (1931-1995), one of the first Japanese Zen masters to bring Zen to the West and founding abbot of the Zen Center of Los Angeles and Zen Mountain Center in Idyllwild, California. These short, inspiring readings illuminate Zen practice in simple, eloquent language. Topics include zazen and Zen koans, how to appreciate your life as the life of the Buddha, and the essential matter of life…


Book cover of The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics

James Ishmael Ford Author Of Introduction to Zen Koans: Learning the Language of Dragons

From my list on Zen from a Zen teacher.

Who am I?

James Ford is a Zen teacher and the author or editor of five books on Zen history and spirituality. His history of Zen in the West, Zen Master Who? captured the personalities who formed our emerging Western schools, while the Book of Mu, which he compiled and edited with Melissa Myozen Blacker is considered essential for any contemporary student of koans, Zen’s arcane spiritual discipline.

James' book list on Zen from a Zen teacher

James Ishmael Ford Why did James love this book?

Robert Aitken was the first American born Zen teacher to be ranked an equal among the first generation of Zen missionaries from East Asia. Several of his books count as classics, but Mind of Clover stands out for its clarity while introducing Zen's ethical precepts as an essential container of Zen practice. 

By Robert Aitken,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mind of Clover as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Taking the Path of Zen, Robert Aitken provided a concise guide to zazen (Zen meditation) and other aspects of the practice of Zen. In The Mind of Clover he addresses the world beyond the zazen cushions, illuminating issues of appropriate personal and social action through an exploration of the philosophical complexities of Zen ethics.

Aitken's approach is clear and sure as he shows how our minds can be as nurturing as clover, which enriches the soil and benefits the environment as it grows. The opening chapters discuss the Ten Grave Precepts of Zen, which, Aitken points out, are "not…


Book cover of Nothing Special

Janet Sternburg Author Of Janet Sternburg - I've Been Walking

From my list on discovering how to see.

Who am I?

I'm a writer and a late-life fine arts photographerFor eight years I had been writing a book set in the personal and historical past. I would sit at the computer, shut my eyes, and say to myself, “Go deeper.” Eventually, I was able to recall long-forgotten details. When I looked up from those years of writing, the memoir, entitled Phantom Limb, was finished and being published. However, I discovered that I could no longer see – really see – what was around me. Along the way, I had lost that alert attention to the way light falls, to colors that used to hit me between the eyes. I felt the loss deeply. I’ve always loved to look. I had to do something to summon it back.

Janet's book list on discovering how to see

Janet Sternburg Why did Janet love this book?

This is a book that gets obstacles for seeing out of the way. This is the book I turn to if I’m sad, unsure, not confident. It’s not that this Zen master makes me happy or sure of myself. No, she puts my life in perspective: What is the big deal? I imagine her saying. You are a small thing in the universe. But while you are here, it's important to do your work. Read it and you’ll be back in the river, whisked along in the current, one more unimportant but vitally aware part of the great stream of life.

By Charlotte Joko Beck, Steven A. Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nothing Special as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WHEN NOTHING IS SPECIAL, EVERYTHING CAN BE

The best-selling author of 'Everyday Zen' shows how to awaken to daily life and discover the ideal in the everyday, finding riches in our feelings, relationships, and work. 'Nothing Special' offers the rare and delightful experience of learning in the authentic Buddhist tradition with a wonderfully contemporary Western master.


Book cover of Beyond Happiness: The Zen Way to True Contentment

Susan M. Weinschenk Author Of How to Get People to Do Stuff: Master the art and science of persuasion and motivation

From my list on understanding human behavior.

Who am I?

I have a Ph.D. in Psychology and a lifelong fascination with people and why they do the things they do, including why I do the things I do. My life and career have been all about trying to learn as much as I can about psychology, brain science, how people think, how people learn, and how to use this body of knowledge and research to understand myself and others. My work is about applying behavioral science to the design of technology to better fit and serve people.

Susan's book list on understanding human behavior

Susan M. Weinschenk Why did Susan love this book?

It’s the 2nd book on my list that’s about happiness, but it’s more philosophical and personal than Dan Gilbert’s book. This book changed my life. It made me realize that I had an expectation that my life should be easy and comfortable. Before I read this book whenever something happened in my life that was not easy and comfortable – my plane was delayed, I got sick, a client was late paying an invoice – I would spin into unhappiness. Why was this happening to me? Everything was personal. Stuff happens all the time. What makes us miserable is how we react to it. I remember reading a passage from the book and feeling my frame of reference change. It permanently changed my view of myself and how I deal with life.

By Ezra Bayda,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Zen teacher explains that true happiness can only be found by dropping our ideas about happiness—and learning to live fully and fearlessly in the moment

Many books have been published in recent years on happiness. Ezra Bayda, a remarkably down-to-earth Zen teacher, believes that the happiness “boom” has been largely a bust for readers. Why? Because it's precisely the pursuit of happiness that keeps us trapped in cycles of dissatisfaction and suffering.

In Beyond Happiness, Bayda draws on Zen teachings to question our conventional notions about what happiness is and where we can find it. Most of us seek…


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

Cheri Huber Author Of There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate

From my list on 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.

Cheri's book list on Zen awareness practice

Cheri Huber Why did Cheri love 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.

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.


Book cover of Being Peace

David J. Bookbinder Author Of The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World

From my list on living your best life.

Who am I?

To paraphrase the old Hair Club for Men ads from 1980s late-night TV, I'm not only a life coach, I'm also a client. I’ve been a self-help junkie since before the term was a book category. I started out with Eastern thought, added in meditation and psychology, and eventually became a therapist and life coach myself. Like the authors of several of the books I’m recommending here, I’ve crystalized into one easy-to-access volume the essence of what I’ve learned from 20 years of working with clients and from my own struggles. I hope these books help you move ahead confidently, knowing you can take on whatever comes your way.

David's book list on living your best life

David J. Bookbinder Why did David love this book?

I read Being Peace about 30 years ago. It’s the first of many books by this Zen Buddhist monk that I’ve read since then.

In one short volume, it captures the essence of what he teaches in his writings, retreats, and videos. Each short segment has layers of meaning and emotion that, over time, settle into the soul.

Despite years of therapy and meditation, my periods of inner peace were few and far between. This book planted a seed that led to more books, a new meditation practice, and eventually to my going to a large retreat, joining a community of Buddhist practitioners, and becoming a therapist myself.

I’ve passed on many of Thich Nhat Hanh’s wise insights and observations to my own clients.

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A bestseller with over 250,000 copies sold, Being Peace is the seminal founding work by Zen Master and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh. With a new introduction by Jack Kornfield and the first update since its release over fifteen years ago, this eloquent meditation on "being peace in order to make peace" is more relevant than ever. A book for everyone concerned about the state of the world and the quality of our lives, it has lost none of its timeliness since it was first published in 1987. It is filled with practical suggestions how to create a…


Book cover of The Way of Zen

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.

Who am I?

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?

This was one of the first books on Buddhism I ever read: I have a battered and much-scribbled-on copy beside me that dates back to 1970. Like Stephen Batchelor he has been seen as an ‘outsider’ to the Buddhist establishment – he described himself ironically as a ‘genuine fake’ – but his psychological understanding, contemporary language and his vivid turn of phrase spoke to me then, and still do now, in a way that much of the more ‘religious’ and scholastic writings never have. For example, he points out that in a sea wave, the actual water isn’t going anywhere; it “only moves up and down, creating the illusion of a ‘piece’ of water moving over the surface. It is a similar illusion that there is a constant ‘self’ moving through successive experiences [and] constituting a link between them.” I would love to have met and listened to Watts, and…

By Alan Watts,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'The perfect guide for a course correction in life' Deepak Chopra

If we open our eyes and see clearly it becomes obvious that there is no other time than this instant

An insightful exploration into the origins and history of Zen Buddhism from pioneering Zen scholar Alan Watts. With a rare combination of freshness and lucidity, Watts explores the principles of Zen and how it can revolutionize our daily life.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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