The best books on Buddhism 📚

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

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Book cover of The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness

The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness

By Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

Why this book?

The author is a world-renowned Buddhist teacher. Using the basic meditation practices the author provides, the reader can discover paths through his problems, transforming obstacles into opportunities to recognize the unlimited potential of his own minds. The monk invites us to join him in unlocking the secrets to finding joy and contentment in the everyday life. The book offers an illuminating perspective on the art of meditation and is a handbook for transforming our minds, bodies, and lives.

From the list:

The best books on Buddhist philosophy, meditation, and mindfulness

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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 A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life

A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life

By Jack Kornfield

Why this book?

This book by the revered Buddhist teacher was a balm to my soul at a time when I’d left all my previous religious beliefs behind and was searching for ways to think about good and bad, right and wrong. I did not become a Buddhist but here I discovered practical techniques, guided meditations, stories, and other gems of wisdom that eased my journey through the world.

From the list:

The best books on endings and beginnings

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Book cover of Japanese Temple Buddhism: Worldliness in a Religion of Renunciation

Japanese Temple Buddhism: Worldliness in a Religion of Renunciation

By Stephen Covell

Why this book?

Most books on Buddhism emphasise the monastic tradition, meditation and a life of strict morality, removed from the everyday world of ordinary people. Much of Japanese Buddhism, however, is conducted by married priests living modern lives in direct interaction with secular society. This book provides an important antidote to contemporary stereotypes.

From the list:

The best books on the spirit of Japanese Buddhism

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Book cover of Shapers of Japanese Buddhism

Shapers of Japanese Buddhism

By Yusen Kashiwahara, Koyu Sonoda

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books on the spirit of Japanese Buddhism

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Book cover of Honen the Buddhist Saint: Essential Writings and Official Biography

Honen the Buddhist Saint: Essential Writings and Official Biography

By Joseph A. Fitzgerald, Harper Havelock Coates, Ryugaku Ishizuka

Why this book?

Honen Sangha (1133-1212) revolutionised Japanese Buddhism. Famous in his own time yet exiled near to the end of his life he introduced an approach to practice that embraced ordinary people and appealed to all ranks of society. His mould breaking innovation paved the way for the emergence of the several new schools that still dominate the Buddhist scene in Japan today. and his humanity and warmth of character still inspire.

From the list:

The best books on the spirit of Japanese Buddhism

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