The most recommended books on Buddhism

Who picked these books? Meet our 239 experts.

239 authors created a book list connected to Buddhism, and here are their favorite Buddhism books.
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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.

Who am I?

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 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 Wisdom of Patañjali's Yoga Sutras: A New Translation and Guide

Eyal Shifroni Author Of The Extended Chair for Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide to Iyengar Yoga Practice with a Chair

From my list on essential to the study of yoga.

Who am I?

I've always been fascinated by yoga and the wonderful stories about yogis. When I was in the fourth grade, studying the subject of 'India', I taught myself to stand on my head and fold my legs in the lotus position. I love practicing yoga – every morning, I thank the Gurus and teachers from whom I learned! I've taught yoga for almost 40 years now and strongly believe that the practice and teaching of yoga, done with devotion and love can transform one's life for the good. I wrote 7 books about yoga (the last, Yoga in Nature is forthcoming) I regularly write articles on yoga and have translated two of B.K.S. Iyengar's books into Hebrew.

Eyal's book list on essential to the study of yoga

Eyal Shifroni Why did Eyal love this book?

Ravindra's book provides a concise commentary on the Yoga Sutras, which were written about 2,000 years back. In his commentary, he draws from many spiritual traditions, including Christianity, Buddhism, and the work of Krishnamurti. Thus, he makes the yoga sutras relevant to our contemporary life, puts them in a wide context, and shows their universality. His translation and interpretation touch on issues that pertain to any human being who is curious about the great mystery of existence.  

By Ravi Ravindra,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wisdom of Patañjali's Yoga Sutras as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Paperback version of the hardcover "Wisdom of Patañjali's Yoga Sutras" published in 2009 by Morning Light Press.


A Daily Dose of Now: 365 Mindfulness Meditation Practices for Living in the Moment

By Nita Sweeney,

Book cover of A Daily Dose of Now: 365 Mindfulness Meditation Practices for Living in the Moment

Nita Sweeney Author Of How to Make Every Move a Meditation: Mindful Movement for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Insight

New book alert!

Who am I?

As a thirty-year meditator, certified meditation leader, and award-winning author, it’s my job to keep up on the latest books about mindfulness and Zen practice. Despite seeing new volumes being published regularly, I return to these books as great sources of solid practice information. Each of these authors explains meditation in accessible terms, easy for readers to follow and understand. I can’t remember who said that a confused reader is an antagonistic reader, but they are right. The books I’ve suggested offer clarity. They help readers begin or continue their practice and understand how and why meditation is worth their time.

Nita's book list on why meditation is worth your time and effort

What is my book about?

Reduce stress, ease anxiety, and increase inner peace—one day at a time—with a year of easy-to-follow mindfulness meditation techniques. Certified mindfulness teacher, bestselling author, ultramarathoner, wife, and dog-mom Nita Sweeney shares mindfulness meditation practices to help anyone break free from worry and self-judgment.

Mindfulness meditation trains you to live in the present moment—the now. Feel calmer. Think more clearly. Respond more effectively and enjoy a more fulfilling life. Even in tiny doses, mindfulness is scientifically proven to enhance physical and mental health, boost creativity, and improve cognition function.

A Daily Dose of Now: 365 Mindfulness Meditation Practices for Living in the Moment

By Nita Sweeney,


Book cover of The Crystal and the Way of Light: Sutra, Tantra, and Dzogchen

Alejandro Chaoul Author Of Tibetan Yoga: Magical Movements of Body, Breath, and Mind

From my list on the Tibetan Bon-Buddhist yogic path.

Who am I?

Maybe reincarnation, maybe early interest, but since elementary school I had a call that I didn’t quite understand. It became clearer as I moved through high school, college, and grad school. Traveling to India and Nepal from 1989-1990 for 9 months was the gestation period for my interest in this Tibetan yogic path. I was fortunate to continue training at Ligmincha International as well as in Menri Monastery in India, Tritan Norbutse in Nepal, and visit Tibet. From teaching in the US, Latin America, and Europe, my greatest privilege was the 20 years at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, connecting with people at a deep human level.

Alejandro's book list on the Tibetan Bon-Buddhist yogic path

Alejandro Chaoul Why did Alejandro love this book?

If you want a clear explanation of Tibetan spirituality, and gain a deeper understanding of sutra, tantra, and Dzogchen, this is your book! Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche’s direct and clear style of teaching is vibrant in this book. And like its title, this book is the crystal that with one’s awareness or rigpa, can bring light into your practice and everyday life.

By Chogyal Namkhai Norbu,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A contemporary exploration of, and personal meditation on, the Buddhist tradition of Dzogchen and its many teachings for modern life—by an esteemed Tibetan master

In The Crystal and the Way of Light, Chogyal Namkhai Norbu examines the spiritual path from the viewpoint of Dzogchen. He discusses the base path and fruit of Dzogchen practice, and describes his education and how he met his principal master who showed him the real meaning of direct introduction to Dzogchen.

By interweaving his life story with the teachings, he both sets Dzogchen in its traditional context and reveals its powerful contemporary relevance. The book…


Book cover of Mindfulness in Plain English

Nita Sweeney Author Of How to Make Every Move a Meditation: Mindful Movement for Mental Health, Well-Being, and Insight

From my list on why meditation is worth your time and effort.

Who am I?

As a thirty-year meditator, certified meditation leader, and award-winning author, it’s my job to keep up on the latest books about mindfulness and Zen practice. Despite seeing new volumes being published regularly, I return to these books as great sources of solid practice information. Each of these authors explains meditation in accessible terms, easy for readers to follow and understand. I can’t remember who said that a confused reader is an antagonistic reader, but they are right. The books I’ve suggested offer clarity. They help readers begin or continue their practice and understand how and why meditation is worth their time.

Nita's book list on why meditation is worth your time and effort

Nita Sweeney Why did Nita love this book?

In this straightforward meditation manual, Bhante G. (as he is affectionately called) sets forth the hows and whys of mindfulness meditation. When I first learned to meditate, I found this simple but profound book the most accessible of the many books available. My husband and I were so impressed with Bhante’s wisdom that we brought him to Columbus, Ohio to teach a weekend retreat for our local mindfulness group. He was warm, caring, and funny. His personality comes across in this small, but mighty book.

By Bhante Henepola Gunaratana,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mindfulness in Plain English as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A masterpiece.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn

Mindfulness in Plain English was first published in 1994, is one of the bestselling — and most influential — books in the field of mindfulness. It’s easy to see why.

Author Bhante Gunaratana, a renowned meditation master, takes us step by step through the myths, realities, and benefits of meditation and the practice of mindfulness. The book showcases Bhante’s trademark clarity and wit as he explores the tool of meditation, what it does, and how to make it work.
 
This book is:
A best-selling introduction to mindfulness Full of practical advice on developing a meditation practice…


Book cover of Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Tui Allen Author Of Ripple: A Dolphin Love Story

From my list on animal stories for love of our planet.

Who am I?

I’m a teacher, sailor, kayaker, and environmental-vegan animal lover. I live by the sea among marine wildlife. I grew up sailing, then sailed the Pacific on the tiny wooden boat that was my first marital home. We had no engine, no modern technology. Like the sea beings, we had a wing in the wind and a fin in the sea so we lived in their world, on their terms. Alone, helming under the stars, I dreamed of dolphin culture and mentally made lists of possible dolphin vocations. This helped me create fiction from the dolphin viewpoint. Input from scientists brought authenticity to my marine environmental fantasies and messages. 

Tui's book list on animal stories for love of our planet

Tui Allen Why did Tui love this book?

This book is about taking the physical path to spiritual freedom, without the need for any religion. It inspired me to cross oceans under sail, to complete ultra-distance multi-disciplinary sports events, and to build my own faith in the divineness of the natural world. Would you believe it helped me win bike races?

And I love that it does all this through the lens of a beautiful feathered sea being. This non-human viewpoint released the author from the prison of human arrogance. Glorious. And it inspired some wonderful music. 

By Richard Bach,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Jonathan Livingston Seagull as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This classic work is now available for the first time in paperback. Since 1951, when the last of the Witchcraft Acts was repealed, many books have been written about the reappearance of witchcraft and the development of a pagan theology. Churchmen have denounced it. Sociologists have wondered at it. Journalists have penned sensational stories about it. But until the publication of this book, no one had told the real story of it from the inside as frankly as it is told here.

Doreen Valiente, one of witchcraft's most widely known figures, was a close friend of the late Gerald Gardner,…


Book cover of Tea in China: A Religious and Cultural History

Erika Rappaport Author Of A Thirst for Empire: How Tea Shaped the Modern World

From my list on understanding tea and other Chinese things.

Who am I?

I grew up in Los Angeles, the mecca of global consumer culture. I became a historian to escape from what I saw as this shallow, surface culture but through my work, I have returned to the mall. My work uses history to show how consumer desires are not natural. Instead, I ask why people consume particular things in particular places, and I show how they attribute meaning to the things they buy. I am not a specialist on China but while researching and writing on tea's global political economy and consumer culture I became fascinated by how China contributed to the making of global tastes, desires, and material culture. These books illuminate the history and cultural life of tea, opium, porcelain, and other things within and beyond China.

Erika's book list on understanding tea and other Chinese things

Erika Rappaport Why did Erika love this book?

This is the book I had been waiting for and was so delighted when it appeared. It provides a fascinating and sweeping account of the meaning of tea in Chinese culture from its earliest appearance to the late imperial period. Benn has a wonderful eye for examples and delicious details that illuminate how religion, art, poetry, class, and gender created a commodity and culture that travelled around the world. A great place to start if you are interested in the history of tea or China.

By James A. Benn,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Tea in China explores the contours of religious and cultural transformation in traditional China from the point of view of an everyday commodity and popularbeverage. Th e work traces the development of tea drinking from its mythical origins to the nineteenth century and examines the changes in aesthetics, ritual, science, health, and knowledge that tea brought with it.

Th e shift in drinking habits that occurred in late medieval China cannot be understood without an appreciation of the fact that Buddhist monks were responsible for not only changing people's attitudes toward the intoxicating substance, but also the proliferation of tea…


Book cover of Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality

Srikumar Rao Author Of Modern Wisdom, Ancient Roots: The Movers and Shakers' Guide to Unstoppable Success

From my list on spiritual dynamite.

Who am I?

I am Srikumar Rao – best selling author, TED speaker, and elite coach. I have spent more than five decades studying the teachings of the world’s greatest masters and distilling them into exercises that enable successful individuals to reach entirely new orbits of accomplishment while remaining serene as a Zen monk. My course, Creativity and Personal Mastery, was among the highest-rated and most popular at many of the world’s top business schools and is the only one to have its own alumni association. My work has been covered by major media worldwide and my talks have been viewed by tens of millions on all six continents.

Srikumar's book list on spiritual dynamite

Srikumar Rao Why did Srikumar love this book?

DeMello was a Jesuit priest and a psychologist.

His workshops were legendary and had a deep impact on thousands. His books have touched millions. He was eclectic and open-minded and readily acknowledged the power of spiritual practices from traditions outside the Church.

For this, his books were removed from Catholic bookstores and a warning issued that his writings could mislead young minds. He was passionate about truth and cavalier about dogma.

By Anthony De Mello,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Awareness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

De Mello's spiritual classic remains at the top of the Fount bestsellers more than five years after its original publication.


Book cover of On Having No Head

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?

One person I was lucky enough to meet and study with, though, was a very English Englishman called Douglas Harding: an ex British army officer who has some transformative experiences whist serving in India and spent the rest of his life devising smart, simple and profound ways to induce the same experiences in others. For example: point with your right index finger at the tip of your nose, and pay close attention to your actual experience of what the finger (which you can see) is pointing at (which you can’t). If you are lucky, you’ll be quite disconcerted! It was only some years after his wake-up call that Douglas realised that he had discovered Zen Buddhism for himself.

By Douglas Edison Harding,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Having No Head as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Reason and imagination and all mental chatter died down... I forgot my name, my humanness, my thingness, all that could be called me or mine. Past and future dropped away... Lighter than air, clearer than glass, altogether released from myself, I was nowhere around.' Thus Douglas Harding describes his first experience of headlessness, or no self. First published in 1961, this is a classic work which conveys the experience that mystics of all times have tried to put words to.


Book cover of Breathe and Be: A Book of Mindfulness Poems

Danna Smith Author Of How Do You Haiku? A Step-by-Step Guide with Templates

From my list on hooking your kids on poetry.

Who am I?

I’ve loved words from the moment I met them. I wrote my first poem when I was eight years old and haven’t stopped yet! As a children’s book author, I love incorporating rhyme, poetry, or lyrical prose in the stories I write. I was a shy kid and often felt like my poetry wasn’t “good enough.” It is my goal to get kids excited about all forms of poetry and I want them to know that they can be poets if they want to and that writing, reading, and sharing poetry is fun and rewarding. 

Danna's book list on hooking your kids on poetry

Danna Smith Why did Danna love this book?

Leaves drifting on a winding stream, toes sinking into the soft sand, exploring the branches of gigantic trees… Kate Coombs’ simple poetry shows kids how to practice mindfulness to help them relax.

I love how this book gives us time to stop, look around, and enjoy the world we live in while enjoying poetry —“My breath is a river of peace.” The illustrations are so dreamy! Every child needs to experience this book!

By Kate Coombs, Anna Emilia Laitinen (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

I breathe slowly in,
I breathe slowly out. My breath
is a river of peace.
I am here in the world.
Each moment I can breathe and be.

Hear thunder crash, feel your toes touch sand, and watch leaves drift softly away on a quiet stream. The simple poems in Breathe and Be help children learn mindfulness as they connect to the beauty of the natural world.

Mindfulness teaches us how to stay calm, soothe our emotions, and appreciate the world around us. Whether we're watching tiny colored fish darting in the water or exploring the leaves, branches, and roots…