16 books directly related to Buddha 📚

All 16 Buddha books as recommended by authors and experts. Updated weekly.

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,…

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Book cover of Siddhartha: A Novel

Siddhartha: A Novel

By Hermann Hesse,

Why this book?

Considered one of the most impactful books in literature, Hesse’s story of the Buddha helped him win a Nobel Prize. It chronicles his vision of the Great Master as he goes through the cycles of life (friendship, love, entrepreneurship, etc) only to lose everything in an effort to finally gain his true self. This story paints the ultimate journey of the individual as all the trials of life unfold, but what makes this special is not the triumph of the protagonist, but the acceptance of defeat. Only in defeat can there be any victory.

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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.”

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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.
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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…

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

After Buddhism: Rethinking the Dharma for a Secular Age

By Stephen Batchelor,

Why 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…

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Book cover of The Life of the Buddha

The Life of the Buddha

By Bhikkhu Nanamoli,

Why 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…

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Book cover of Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha

Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha

By Thomas Byrom,

Why this book?

Start with the beginning. The Dhammapada is the Buddhism inaugural book. In it are the words of the Buddha himself, teaching that all suffering stems from desire and that the way to attain freedom is to purify the heart and follow the way of truth. Very accessible, the words used in this ancient book capture the Buddha's original intuitions, thoughts, and teachings with great simplicity.

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Book cover of The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World

The Circle of the Way: A Concise History of Zen from the Buddha to the Modern World

By Barbara O'Brien,

Why this book?

Journalist and long-time Zen student Barbara O'Brien offers the only readable, concise, and yet comprehensive survey of Zen's history, the development of its teachings from the beginnings of Buddhism to the dawn of the twenty-first century. She finds a genuine middle ground between an appreciation of the received tradition and the best of modern scholarship. A masterful accomplishment. 

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Book cover of Dark Tales

Dark Tales

By Shirley Jackson,

Why this book?

The possibility of evil. Not only is this the title of the first selection in this collection of classic and newly printed stories by the queen of suburban gothic – it is the essence of her uncanny literary witchcraft, where subtle twists and sudden turns force readers to confront a creeping unease in post-WWII America. No hideous monsters or grotesque horrors here. Instead, sinister insinuation and irrational fears invade the “safe” suburban spaces. A man believes someone is stalking him on his way home from work.  Anonymous poison pen letters threaten a community. A runaway teenager reappears several years later…

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Book cover of Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children

Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children

By Sarah Napthali,

Why this book?

I’ve always been deeply inspired by the teachings of the Buddha, so naturally, I made sure I read this book. In fact, I first read it years before becoming a mother myself. It is a classic and a treasure, elucidating how to apply concepts like mindfulness and acceptance as a mother, long before any other book had done so. It is certainly relevant to any mother interested in Buddhism, but it is written in such an open way that it is also relevant to other mothers too.

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Book cover of Indian Buddhist Philosophy

Indian Buddhist Philosophy

By Amber Carpenter,

Why this book?

Buddhism is a religion (or family of religions), but its underlying ideas—many of which are independent of the soteriology of Buddhism—have undergone a rich development in the two and a half thousand years since Siddhārtha Guatama (the historical Buddha) lived. Carpenter’s book introduces us to the philosophical development in India in the first 1,000 years of Buddhism. It concentrates on the ethical aspects, and explores, amongst other things, various relationships with ethical ideas from Ancient Greek philosophy.

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Book cover of Confession of a Buddhist Atheist

Confession of a Buddhist Atheist

By Stephen Batchelor,

Why this book?

This book is both a memoir of Stephen Batchelor and a memoir of the Buddha himself. Batchelor integrates these two life stories with his journey through India which followed the footsteps of the Buddha. Batchelor teaches us what Buddha taught, but in a way that inspires as many questions as it provides answers. In this way, the reader goes on her own spiritual quest and perhaps, transformation, just as did Buddha and Batchelor. I love this book so much that it is a re-read for me, a wonderful well of inspiration and contemplation. This is also an easy read and…

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Book cover of The Financial Expert

The Financial Expert

By R. K. Narayan,

Why this book?

This is a 1951 Indian novel, but don’t let that deter you. Narayan’s central character is a dreamy village banker who ends up running a bit of a hustle on all of the townspeople. I was braced for this to have an ugly, Bernie Madoff style ending. But that’s not exactly where it goes! I read this on a long flight from San Francisco to Bangalore – and this journey into a culture that was both familiar and surprising made the miles go by very fast. 

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Book cover of Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul

Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul

By Melody Beattie,

Why this book?

I stumbled upon a terrific life companion in Melody Beattie’s Journey to the Heart book. I read a few gentle meditations every evening before bed, and feel both inspired and relaxed. There is definitely a way back to self-compassion and mental well-being and Melody has cleared the rocky path for us. All we have to do is walk it with her. If you have just one book by your bedside as you heal from addiction, this should be the one.

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