100 books like The Island

By Ajahn Passano, Ajahn Amaro,

Here are 100 books that The Island fans have personally recommended if you like The Island. 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 Noble Eightfold Path: Way to the End of Suffering

Kevin Griffin Author Of Living Kindness: Buddhist Teachings for a Troubled World

From my list on Theravada Buddhism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Buddhist teacher and author of six books. I started practicing Buddhist meditation in 1980 and then got sober in 1985. The fact that I needed the 12 Steps when I was already a serious meditator gives you a clue about what a mess I was. Besides addiction, I’ve struggled with depression as well. All of this makes me feel like something of an outsider in the “happy, happy” world of mindfulness and meditation. Much of my work comes from that outsider’s perspective. While five of my books focus on connecting Buddhism and recovery, the sixth comes out of my study of the suttas of the Pali Canon, the earliest preserved Buddhist teachings.

Kevin's book list on Theravada Buddhism

Kevin Griffin Why did Kevin love this book?

The Eightfold Path is the road map to freedom laid out by the Buddha. From this derives the mindfulness and concentration practices, as well as guidance on wisdom, ethics, and morality. Bhikkhu Bodhi packs more wisdom into this short book than any other Buddhist text you will read. So dense that a single sentence can send you off on days of reflection, I come back over and over to this book for guidance and inspiration.

By Bhikkhu Bodhi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This book offers a clear, concise account of the Eightfold Path prescribed to uproot and eliminate the deep underlying cause of suffering—ignorance. Each step of the path is believed to cultivate wisdom through mental training, and includes an enlightened and peaceful middle path that avoids extremes. The theoretical as well as practical angles of each of the paths—right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration—are illustrated through examples from contemporary life. The work's final chapter addresses the Buddhist path and its culmination in enlightenment. (Note: This title was previously published under…


Book cover of Satipatthana: The Direct Path to Realization

Kevin Griffin Author Of Living Kindness: Buddhist Teachings for a Troubled World

From my list on Theravada Buddhism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Buddhist teacher and author of six books. I started practicing Buddhist meditation in 1980 and then got sober in 1985. The fact that I needed the 12 Steps when I was already a serious meditator gives you a clue about what a mess I was. Besides addiction, I’ve struggled with depression as well. All of this makes me feel like something of an outsider in the “happy, happy” world of mindfulness and meditation. Much of my work comes from that outsider’s perspective. While five of my books focus on connecting Buddhism and recovery, the sixth comes out of my study of the suttas of the Pali Canon, the earliest preserved Buddhist teachings.

Kevin's book list on Theravada Buddhism

Kevin Griffin Why did Kevin love this book?

The first of this great scholar’s series on the Buddha’s instructions for mindfulness, this sits as perhaps the greatest modern commentary on what has become a worldwide phenomenon. Building from the core “Satipatthana Sutta,” or “The Discourse on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness,” Analayo draws from his extensive translations and studies of both the Pali Canon and the Chinese versions of suttas that branched off long ago. While the footnotes sometimes take up more space than the text itself, every digression is worth following for those who want to truly understand what the Buddha taught. Warning: most of this book will only make sense to you if you have sat for at least a couple of ten-day meditation retreats.

By Bhikkhu Analayo,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A translation and detailed textual study of the Satipatthana Sutta, the foundational Buddhist discourse on meditation, drawing on traditional Buddhist texts, modern works, and the teachings of present-day meditation masters to make the rich implications of this text clear to all.


Book cover of The Life of the Buddha

Kevin Griffin Author Of Living Kindness: Buddhist Teachings for a Troubled World

From my list on Theravada Buddhism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Buddhist teacher and author of six books. I started practicing Buddhist meditation in 1980 and then got sober in 1985. The fact that I needed the 12 Steps when I was already a serious meditator gives you a clue about what a mess I was. Besides addiction, I’ve struggled with depression as well. All of this makes me feel like something of an outsider in the “happy, happy” world of mindfulness and meditation. Much of my work comes from that outsider’s perspective. While five of my books focus on connecting Buddhism and recovery, the sixth comes out of my study of the suttas of the Pali Canon, the earliest preserved Buddhist teachings.

Kevin's book list on Theravada Buddhism

Kevin Griffin Why did Kevin love this book?

The early Buddhist texts do not follow any narrative or chronological order. Their purpose was not to tell us about the Buddha, but only to preserve and convey his teachings. This seminal figure of twentieth-century Buddhist scholarship takes those texts and organizes them as a story. The result is a biography infused with Theravada Buddhist teachings. This book is a great one for meeting the suttas in a more conventional form than the seemingly random order in which they are found in the Canon. Plus, you get to see the Buddha and his followers as human beings living in a particular place and time. 

By Bhikkhu Nanamoli,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Composed entirely of texts from the Pali canon, this unique biography presents the oldest authentic record of the Buddha’s life and revolutionary philosophy. The ancient texts are rendered here in a language marked by lucidity and dignity. A framework of narrators and voices connect the canonical texts. Vivid recollections of his personal attendant Ananda and other disciples bring the reader into the Buddha’s presence, where his example offers profound inspiration and guidance on the path to freedom.


Book cover of Food for the Heart: The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah

Kevin Griffin Author Of Living Kindness: Buddhist Teachings for a Troubled World

From my list on Theravada Buddhism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Buddhist teacher and author of six books. I started practicing Buddhist meditation in 1980 and then got sober in 1985. The fact that I needed the 12 Steps when I was already a serious meditator gives you a clue about what a mess I was. Besides addiction, I’ve struggled with depression as well. All of this makes me feel like something of an outsider in the “happy, happy” world of mindfulness and meditation. Much of my work comes from that outsider’s perspective. While five of my books focus on connecting Buddhism and recovery, the sixth comes out of my study of the suttas of the Pali Canon, the earliest preserved Buddhist teachings.

Kevin's book list on Theravada Buddhism

Kevin Griffin Why did Kevin love this book?

Ajahn Chah was a Buddhist monk in the Thai Forest Tradition who taught and influenced a generation of Western Buddhist teachers, from Jack Kornfield to Ajahn Sumedho, Ajahn Amaro, and Ajahn Passano. Combining the commitment of an ascetic monk with the clarity of a Zen Master, Ajahn Chah’s teachings here are rich and alive. Far from the drier suttas of the Pali Canon, here we see Buddhism coming alive in practical and inspiring ways. Everything from how to meditate to how to be mindful in daily life is covered in stories and pithy teachings. Easy to pick up and read short passages.

By Ajahn Chah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Food for the Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Renowned for the beauty and simplicity of his teachings, Ajahn Chah was Thailand's best-known meditation teacher. His charisma and wisdom influenced many American and European seekers, and helped shape the American Vipassana community. This collection brings together for the first time Ajahn Chah's most powerful teachings, including those on meditation, liberation from suffering, calming the mind, enlightenment and the 'living dhamma'. Most of these talks have previously only been available in limited, private editions and the publication of Food for the Heart therefore represents a momentous occasion: the hugely increased accessibility of his words and wisdom. Western teachers such as…


Book cover of I Give You My Life: The Autobiography of a Western Buddhist Nun

Elles Lohuis Author Of A Pilgrim's Heart

From my list on biographies of Western Buddhist women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write novels that enthrall, enrich, and enliven you. I've been student of Buddhism for more than thirty years and spend long periods of time with the most generous Tibetan Buddhist nuns in their monasteries in the remote Himalayas, relishing the solitude and contemplative life. Their tales of resilience are an enormous inspiration to me. The biographies of Western Buddhist women I’ve selected are everything I look for in ‘great writing’. The stories are engaging and entertaining, but also make us pause and reflect to appreciate the astonishing opportunities of the privileged times we live in, and challenge us once again to be and do better—every moment of this precious life.

Elles' book list on biographies of Western Buddhist women

Elles Lohuis Why did Elles love this book?

This is the life story of Ayya Khema (1923-1997), who was the first Western woman to be ordained a Theravadin Buddhist nun. In this book, she recounts her rich and adventurous life. Born in Germany to Jewish parents before WWII, she joined a children's transport group going to England after the Kristal Nacht. After a year she met up with her parents in Shanghai, where the Japanese invasion forced them to give up their lives and live in a ghetto. From there on, her life takes many turns. She marries, has children, travels all over, and eventually steps onto the spiritual path in later life. She ordains as a Buddhist nun, initiates Nun's Island, a Buddhist monastery in Sri Lanka, and eventually comes back to Germany to create Buddha Haus. Ven. Ayya Khema writes more ‘from a distance,' and although we do not always get a glimpse into her inner…

By Ayya Khema,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Give You My Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ayya Khema (1923-1997) was the first Western woman to become a Theravadan Buddhist nun. As such, she has served as a model and inspiration for women from all the Buddhist traditions who have sought to revive the practice of women's monasticism in modern times. Though her renown as a teacher is widespread, few know the truly amazing details of her life before her monastic ordination at the age of fifty-eight. And what a life it was. Born Ilse Kussel in Berlin, Germany, she grew up in a prosperous Jewish family that was broken up by Nazi terror in 1938. The…


Book cover of Awake at the Bedside: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End-Of-Life Care

Kirsten DeLeo Author Of Present Through the End: A Caring Companion's Guide for Accompanying the Dying

From my list on how to support a dying person.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have accompanied dying people for more than twenty-five years—as a counsellor, volunteer chaplain, and companion. I feel passionate about changing the perception of dying and death, the way we care for people during their most vulnerable moments, and how we support families through this painful time. Since my twenties I have been immersed in Buddhist practise which inspires and informs my life and work. Together with other clinicians and mindfulness practitioners, we created one of the first contemplative-based training in end-of-life care for caregivers called “Authentic Presence”. Daring to be present might be the hardest thing you may have done in your life, and, you may come to discover, one of the most intimate, beautiful, and rewarding.

Kirsten's book list on how to support a dying person

Kirsten DeLeo Why did Kirsten love this book?

If you are looking for a ‘quick fix' or 'how to’ read, this book may at first glance not be the most obvious choice. Awake at the Bedside is not your traditional guidebook. It is a moving and insightful collection of essays written by clinicians, chaplains, caregivers, pioneers in end-of-life care, contemplative teachers, and poets. Each essay sheds light on the different facets of what it means to show up at the bedside and the opportunity to wake up to each moment. I contributed a chapter on spiritual care, but that’s not why I recommend this volume. I recommend it because it is written by caregivers for caregivers—honest, reflective, compassionate, inspirational, and practical. A human and compassionate vision for end-of-life care. 

By Koshin Paley Ellison, Matt Weingast,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Awake at the Bedside as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book isn’t about dying. It’s about life and what life has to teach us. It’s about caring and what giving care really means. 

In Awake at the Bedside, pioneers of palliative and end-of-life care as well as doctors, chaplains, caregivers and even poets offer wisdom that will challenge, uplift, comfort—and change the way we think about death. 

Equal parts instruction manual and spiritual testimony, it includes specific instructions and personal accounts to inspire, counsel, and teach. An indispensable resource for anyone involved in hospice work or caregiving of any kind.

Contributors include Anyen Rinpoche, Coleman Barks, Craig D. Blinderman,…


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

Lynda Allen Author Of Grace Reflected

From my list on life-changing world-rocking books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I think of myself as a listener and life in progress. As a poet and author, I’m always listening to the words that move through my heart. I’m also a spiritual seeker, always looking for the Divine in the world around me and almost always surprised by the ways it shows up when I’m paying attention. Yet, there’s another part of me that is a Jersey girl through and through, looking for humor or irreverence in the face of life’s challenges. All these aspects come together in an unusual harmony, creating an openness to being changed by the things that come into my life. Hence, a list of life-changing books.

Lynda's book list on life-changing world-rocking books

Lynda Allen Why did Lynda love this book?

Reading this book helped me change my life for the better. Putting Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings into practice in my daily life helped me live a more mindful, more peaceful life at a time of great transition in my personal life.

One of the things I love the most about this book is how simple it is to incorporate its practices into daily life. There are sections on how to be mindful about washing dishes or answering the phone! There are also sections that went much deeper, which dealt with how to be mindful of my emotions, which I have found so valuable in dealing with anxiety, difficult situations, and fear.

One of my favorite experiences related to this book was guiding a group of middle school-age kids through a discussion inspired by the “Tangerine Meditation.” Instead of a tangerine, we considered a piece of paper and talked about the…

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

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 Shapers of Japanese Buddhism

David Brazier Author Of The Dark Side of the Mirror: Forgetting the Self in Dogen's Genjo Koan

From my list on the spirit of Japanese Buddhism.

Why am I passionate about this?

David Brazier ordained as a Buddhist priest in 1976, studied all the major schools of Buddhism, and eventually founded Amida Shu, a Pure Land order, of which he was head from 1996 until retiring in 2020. His close disciples now meet as “Global Sangha”. He holds a doctorate in Buddhist psychology, has initiated socially engaged projects in several countries, and still teaches internationally and online. He is the author of more than a dozen books and many chapters, monographs, and podcasts.

David's book list on the spirit of Japanese Buddhism

David Brazier Why did David love this book?

This book includes twenty full and seventy-five brief biographies of significant figures in the history of Japanese Buddhism, some of them orthodox, many of them eccentric, each contributing some unique genius to the living tradition from the sixth century up to modern times. An excellent way to enter the spirit of the tradition with many stories to enjoy.

By Koyu Sonoda, Yusen Kashiwahara,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

More than thirteen centuries of clergy, laity, and social conditions interacted to mold Japan's Buddhism. Today's resulting characteristics, which distinguish it from its mainland sources, include a proliferation of independent sects, emphasis on religion for lay members, and de-emphasis of clerical codes. The twenty main biographies and seventy-five sketches presented in this book reveal both the individual and social aspects of Buddhist evolution and in Japan, spanning from the sixth through twentieth centuries. They cover the many separate interchanges that brought Buddhist texts and practices from Korea and China as well as the innovations that arose in Japan.


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

Diana Winston Author Of The Little Book of Being: Practices and Guidance for Uncovering Your Natural Awareness

From my list on Buddhist stories from lesser-known women authors.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Diana's book list on Buddhist stories from lesser-known women authors

Diana Winston Why did Diana 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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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