The best Buddha books 📚

Browse the best books on Buddha as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

Coming Fall 2022: The ability to sort this list by genre (signup here to follow our story as we build a better way to discover books).

Book cover of Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town

Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town

By Barbara Demick

Why this book?

Demick is a master at showcasing the true drama of ordinary people living ordinary lives. In this saga of Tibetan royalty, resistance, and renaissance, she knits these personal stories into a sweeping epic covering the last 60 years of Tibetan history. The characters may at first glance seem innocuous: a long-lost daughter; a shopkeeper; a monk. But together, their stories paint a frightening and vivid picture of the everyday repression and fear under the largest and most sophisticated authoritarian regime on the planet. Throughout, Demick’s narrative displays a profound sense of place, plopping the reader onto the frigid Tibetan plateau,…

From the list:

The best books on the human toll of civil war

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Book cover of Intimacy

Intimacy

By Hanif Kureishi

Why this book?

Jay, a selfish, self-absorbed screenwriter, reflects on his failings as a lover, husband, and friend on the eve of leaving his wife and children. From the way Jay describes his marriage and his approach to fatherhood, it’s clear he’s more than willing to throw his comfortable life away and damage three innocent people for no other reason than he’s bored, shallow, and desperate to blame his incompetency on those closest to him. What keeps the reader engaged is how painfully funny it all is – Jay’s obliviousness provides ample opportunity for mature audiences to chuckle and shake their heads at…

From the list:

The best books with “difficult” protagonists

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Book cover of Siddhartha: A Novel

Siddhartha: A Novel

By Hermann Hesse

Why this book?

As someone who was raised in the “religion of atheism” by two cynical parents, I was at first resistant to reading this book that was so popular with the spiritual crowd. However, after reading Siddhartha, I changed my mind entirely. Here was someone who walked the walk with very little talk, forsaking a privileged lifestyle to take a journey into the unknown on a quest to find life’s meaning. There were no easy answers or formulas given and after reading the book twice it dawned on me that the search itself might be the answer. What better lesson could…

From the list:

The best coming of age novels with a cutting edge

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Book cover of Raising Resilience: The Wisdom and Science of Happy Families and Thriving Children

Raising Resilience: The Wisdom and Science of Happy Families and Thriving Children

By Christopher Willard

Why this book?

In a charming, reader-friendly style, this book offers ten universal principles for skillful parenting that lead to genuine goodness and happiness in their children. A delight to know it’s possible.

From the list:

The best books on resilience and how to cope skillfully with life’s difficulties and crises

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Book cover of What the Buddha Taught

What the Buddha Taught

By Walpola Rahula

Why this book?

Looking for the vehicle to understand Siddhartha Gautama’s journey to enlightenment and teachings but worried you’ll never remember the four noble truths or eight-fold path? Search no more, my friends. Of all the books on Buddhism ever written this simple and compact distillation delivers what Siddhartha (the Buddha) taught which is really nothing more complex than, “You must figure it out for yourself, but here’s how I did it.”

From the list:

The best books for the rest of us to absorb Buddhist essence

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Book cover of Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening

Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening

By Stephen Batchelor

Why this book?

In Buddhism Without Beliefs, Batchelor deftly lays out the precepts of Buddhism for anyone and everyone and puts to rest any notion of Buddhism as a religion. I love how simple, approachable, and timely he makes the Buddha’s teachings. And particularly brilliant is the way he shows us that what the Buddha taught is not something to believe in but something to do. Whether you are a long-time practitioner of meditation or someone who has always been curious and also confused about mindfulness and meditation, you will find easy, accessible exercises here to strengthen or kickstart your practice.
From the list:

The best books for living a simple, rich, and intentional life

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