100 books like The Wild, White Goose

By Roshi P.T.N.H. Jiyu-Kennett,

Here are 100 books that The Wild, White Goose fans have personally recommended if you like The Wild, White Goose. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Cave in the Snow

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?

Ok this is a little off-theme, but I was blown away when I first read this book many years ago and needed to put it on my list. It tells the story of an English woman who lived alone in a cave 13,000 feet up in the Himalayas, practicing Buddhist meditation. I lived as a Buddhist nun in Myanmar, but only for a year, while Tenzin Palmo spent twelve years in silence. Her story is harrowing at times, illuminating, deep, and moving. One interesting tidbit—she never lay down (for 12 years!)!

By Vicki MacKenzie,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Cave in the Snow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The biography of the Englishwoman who has become a world-renowned spiritual leader and a champion of the right of women to achieve spiritual enlightenment. Following Tenzin Palmo's life from England to India, including her seclusion in a remote cave for 12 years, leading to her decision to found a convent to revive the Togdenma lineage.


Book cover of Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind: The Life and Letters of an Irish Zen Saint

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?

I read this book when it first came out in 1995 and have kept a copy of it for all those years, re-reading it again and again. This book is the journal and letters of Maura O'Halloran, a young Irish-American who went to Japan and joined a Zen Buddhist temple for monks at a time (the early 1980s) when few western women were admitted to such extremely arduous training. It tells of her three years in the temple in a heart-warming, honest way, with an abundance of humor. This book gives a brilliant look into life in a Zen temple, and Maura’s detailed observations and humble descriptions of her breakthroughs are a heartfelt reminder that no matter where we are on our spiritual path, we're human and there’s always hope.

By Maura O'Halloran, Beth O'Halloran (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the most beloved Buddhist books of all time-having inspired popular musicians, artists, a documentary film, and countless readers-is now in an expanded, new edition, loaded with extras. Absolutely absorbing from start to finish, this is a true story you might truly fall in love with.

At only 24, Maura O'Halloran left her Irish-American family stateside and traveled to Japan, where she began studying under an inscrutable Zen master. She would herself become recognized as a Zen master-in an uncommonly brief amount of time. Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind is Maura's beautifully-written account of her journey. These journal entries and…


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 Women of Wisdom

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 book is a wonderful collection of the lives of six Tibetan female mystics, brought together by the American Lama Tsultrim Allione, the emanation of the renowned 11th-century Tibetan yogini, Machig Labdrön, and one of the few women Lamas in the world today. The book includes an extensive autobiographical preface and introduction in which Lama Tultrum Allione shares her own story and experience of the difficulties and triumphs of women in Tibetan Buddhism, and of women pursuing a spiritual life in the West with candid honesty. The stories of these remarkable women's pasts and brought together in this book offer a wealth of insight and encouragement for both women and men who aspire to a spiritual life in the face of adversity.

By Tsultrim Allione,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A “fascinating and inspiring” celebration of women’s spirituality and the female mystics of Tibetan Buddhism—now featuring an updated and expanded author autobiography (San Francisco Chronicle)
 
Women of Wisdom explores and celebrates the spiritual potential of all women, as exemplified by the lives of six Tibetan female mystics. These stories of great women who have achieved full illumination—overcoming cultural prejudices and a host of other problems which male practitioners do not encounter—offer a wealth of inspiration to everyone on the spiritual path.

In this revised and expanded edition, Tsultrim Allione’s extensive autobiographical preface and introduction speak directly to the difficulties and…


Book cover of Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey

Julian Sedgwick Author Of Tsunami Girl

From my list on to explore otherworldly Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

From the age of 11, and an encounter with an illustrated anthology entitled The World of Zen, I have been drawn to and fascinated by the spiritual, philosophical, and folkloric aspects of East Asian Culture. I studied the subject at Cambridge University and subsequently trained in Zen Shiatsu therapy. Most of my books draw from my passion for East Asian culture, and Japan in particular. I have travelled widely in Japan over the last two decades, and for Tsunami Girl spent four years researching, interviewing survivors, and visiting Fukushima. I am now working on a new book on Japanese yōkai and ghosts…

Julian's book list on to explore otherworldly Japan

Julian Sedgwick Why did Julian love this book?

A journey through both her own grief and the suffering of the March 2011 disaster, Mockett’s book is a personal exploration of the after-effects of loss and trauma, set against Japanese Buddhist, Shinto, and folklore beliefs around death and the afterlife. Like travelling with a wise and inquisitive friend, she leads the reader to memorable encounters (some of which echoed my own experiences in Tohoku) with tsunami survivors, Zen priests, and blind mediums. Thought-provoking and tender, the book reverberated in my head long after I finished reading. Hugely recommended.

By Marie Mutsuki Mockett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marie Mutsuki Mockett's family owns a Buddhist temple but after the Fukushima disaster, radiation levels prohibited the burial of her Japanese grandfather's bones. As Japan mourned, Mockett also grieved for her American father who had died unexpectedly. Seeking consolation, Mockett is guided by a colourful cast of Zen priests and ordinary Japanese who perform rituals that disturb, haunt and finally uplift her.


Book cover of What Is Zen?

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

From my list on Zen awareness practice.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

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.

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…


Book cover of The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto

Brett Dakin Author Of Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos

From my list on books about living abroad in Asia.

Why am I passionate about this?

Right after college, I lived abroad in Asia, in the small, landlocked country of Laos. A key theme of the book is the role of the U.S. in the world. During the Vietnam War, Laos was subject to a massive bombing campaign by the U.S., and decades later, the country was still coping with the effects. As unexploded bombs continued to kill people every year, how would my colleagues and neighbors react to an American living among them? The book is mainly about the joys of navigating another culture, and while Laos is unique, I’ve read a lot of books about living abroad in Asia, and common themes certainly emerge.

Brett's book list on books about living abroad in Asia

Brett Dakin Why did Brett love this book?

Iyer’s prose is beautiful, and he’s best known for his travel writing. In this book, he stays put, living in Japan and immersing himself in Zen and the pleasures of traditional life in Kyoto. He also meets his wife, and the combination of cultural study and personal memoir makes for an absolutely lovely read. 

By Pico Iyer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Lady and the Monk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Pico Iyer decided to go to Kyoto and live in a monastery, he did so to learn about Zen Buddhism from the inside, to get to know Kyoto, one of the loveliest old cities in the world, and to find out something about Japanese culture today -- not the world of businessmen and production lines, but the traditional world of changing seasons and the silence of temples, of the images woven through literature, of the lunar Japan that still lives on behind the rising sun of geopolitical power.

All this he did. And then he met Sachiko.

Vivacious, attractive,…


Book cover of Zen in the Art of Archery

Mark Edward Harris Author Of The Way of the Japanese Bath

From my list on books that offer glimpses of ancient and modern Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

My Master’s is in history, so books in the field are particularly of interest, especially those focused on the asides of the subject. One of the most unusual is No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War by Hiroo Onoda. When World War II ended in 1945, a number of Japanese soldiers, mostly in the jungles of the South Pacific, refused to surrender. Onoda was one of them. For three decades, the Japanese government tried to convince him that the war was over and flush him out of his hiding place in the Philippines, but to no avail. I found it fascinating to see his confirmation bias at work and described so clearly.

Mark's book list on books that offer glimpses of ancient and modern Japan

Mark Edward Harris Why did Mark love this book?

My first somewhat clear understanding of what Zen is, and perhaps isn’t, came from the reading of this book.

I have seen in my own life when I’m doing photography or playing golf that I can enter a state of Zen. Nothing else exists while I’m depressing the shutter or hitting that little white ball. The concept of mindfulness is something that is much easier to read about than put into practice, but reading this book has helped me take strides toward living in the present.  

By Eugen Herrigel,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A classic work on Eastern philosophy, and a charming, deeply illuminating story of one man’s experience with Zen.

Eugen Herrigel, a German professor of Philosophy in Tokyo, took up the study of archery as a step toward an understanding of Zen Buddhism. This book is the account of the six years he spent as a student of one of Japan’s great kyudo (archery) masters, and of how he gradually overcame his initial inhibitions and began to feel his way toward new truths and ways of seeing.


Book cover of Zen and Japanese Culture

Rande Brown Author Of Geisha: A Life

From my list on what the West can learn from the East.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an American Jewish girl who was born knowing that I had been Japanese in my previous lifetime. After graduating with a degree in Japanese studies from Princeton University, I moved to Japan at 21 and became a well-known translator. One day the Geisha Mineko Iwasaki, the inspiration behind Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha, asked me to co-author the story of her life. Published in 2002, Geisha, a Life became a bestseller. Writing Geisha awakened memories of my past life as a courtesan in fourteenth-century Kyoto. I began a deep study of reincarnation, which has led me to study the intersection of Buddhism and Psychoanalysis. Please look out for my forthcoming book, Reincarnation Karma.

Rande's book list on what the West can learn from the East

Rande Brown Why did Rande love this book?

Zen and Japanese Culture, the twentieth century's leading work on Zen Buddhism, completely changed my life when I read it at sixteen. This classic text, a profoundly simple introduction to Japanese art and philosophy, held the key to my young compulsion toward the transcendent aesthetic perfection of Japan and began to prepare me for understanding the world of the Geisha. It awakened the need within me to move to Japan to study Zen Buddhism in an authentic Zen Temple. Which I did. 

By Daisetz T. Suzuki,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Zen and Japanese Culture is a classic that has influenced generations of readers and played a major role in shaping conceptions of Zen's influence on Japanese traditional arts. In simple and poetic language, Daisetz Suzuki describes Zen and its historical evolution. He connects Zen to the philosophy of the samurai, and subtly portrays the relationship between Zen and swordsmanship, haiku, tea ceremonies, and the Japanese love of nature. Suzuki uses anecdotes, poetry, and illustrations of silk screens, calligraphy, and architecture. The book features an introduction by Richard Jaffe that acquaints readers with Suzuki's life and career and analyzes the book's…


Book cover of The Book of Five Rings

Chris Bradford Author Of The Way of the Warrior

From my list on samurais and ninjas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a black belt martial artist and top ten bestselling children’s author with a life goal of ‘getting kids reading’. As an author, I practise what I term ‘method writing’. For my Young Samurai series, I trained in samurai swordsmanship, karate, ninjutsu, and earned my black belt in Zen Kyu Shin Taijutsu. This ensures my books are not only authentic but have the impact of a flying front kick. Hopefully, my stories will knock you out!

Chris' book list on samurais and ninjas

Chris Bradford Why did Chris love this book?

A classic of the ages and essential reading for any martial artist, The Book of Five Rings is a guide to self-discipline and learning. But you have to read between the lines, listen to the silences, and practice the way of the warrior yourself in order to get the most from it. The legendary swordmaster Miyamoto Musashi is the blueprint for Jack’s sensei and guardian Masamoto in my Young Samurai book.

By Miyamoto Musashi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The complete and official edition of the original Japanese text. Translated by Prof. Nabiki Imagawa and Prof. James Ashcroft in 2019 to fix all the previous mistakes present in the old public editions. This is the recommended edition for university specialists and experts in Japanese history who want the full uncensored version of The Book of 5 Rings as the samurai Miyamoto Musashi wrote it in 1645.


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