The most recommended meditation books

Who picked these books? Meet our 272 experts.

272 authors created a book list connected to meditation, and here are their favorite meditation books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

What type of meditation book?

Loading...
Loading...

Book cover of God Talks: How to Have a Friendship with God (Even if You've Made a Million Mistakes)

Barbara Hemphill Author Of Love It or Lose It: Living Clutter-Free Forever

From Barbara's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Visionary Encourager Entrepreneur Speaker

Barbara's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Barbara Hemphill Why did Barbara love this book?

At age 11, I tried to commit suicide, and at age 42, I was in a mental hospital from depression because I didn’t hear from God (or, rather, I didn’t think I did!). Since then, I’ve learned that God speaks in ways I didn’t expect or understand, and my passion is to communicate that truth to others who struggle with depression.

God Talks is a great tool I use to share how God speaks to everyone in a unique way, and His way leads to answers that will help you accomplish your work and enjoy your life.

By Ed Rush,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of The Ecology of Imagination in Childhood

David Sobel Author Of Wild Play: Parenting Adventures in the Great Outdoors

From my list on bonding your children with nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 1972, I started an early childhood center in the Monadnock Region in New Hampshire. The focus was on child-centered education, with an emphasis on working with children outdoors. I've spent the last 50 years continuing to connect children with nature in schools, nature centers, national parks, museums, and in families. I taught graduate courses in developmental psychology, cognitive development, place-based education and have done hundreds of professional development workshops for early childhood and elementary school teachers. As a father, I focused on connecting my own children with nature. My son is a ski coach and runs an ecotourism kayaking business. My daughter is a theater director and writes grants for an environmental non-profit. 

David's book list on bonding your children with nature

David Sobel Why did David love this book?

Cobb's Ecology of Imagination is tough sledding. It's academic, abstruse, and also remarkably insightful. I still don't understand all of what she's saying, but what I do understand is her portrayal of the importance of middle childhood, "between the strivings of animal infancy and the storms of adolescence—when the natural world is experienced in some highly evocative way, producing in the child a sense of some profound continuity with natural processes….” Our goal, as parents, should be to find ways for our children to feel that "profound continuity with natural processes" during the middle childhood years of ages six to twelve. 

By Edith Cobb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Ecology of Imagination in Childhood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Is genius shaped by the imagination of childhood? Cobb's collection of autobiographies and biographies of creative people, as well as her observations of children's play, suggests just that. She sees the child to be innately connected with the natural world. Inner powers alone do not further the imagination. Her book remains an important philosophical meditation on the importance of children's deep experience of nature to their adult cognition and psychological well-being.


Book cover of Loving-Kindness in Plain English: The Practice of Metta

Bodhipaksa Author Of This Difficult Thing of Being Human: The Art of Self-Compassion

From my list on finding and building compassion.

Why am I passionate about this?

I went through a particularly hard time several years ago and to get through it I was forced to dig deep into what I’d learned about compassion and self-compassion over three decades of meditating. Because I’m a meditation teacher, I wanted to share with my students everything I learned about being kind and supportive toward myself as I went through the toughest challenges I’d ever faced so that they could benefit as well. That’s why I wrote This Difficult Thing of Being Human. Self-compassion has become the core of everything I’ve taught since then, and one of the wonderful things about it is that once you’ve shown yourself compassion, you automatically find yourself treating others with compassion too.

Bodhipaksa's book list on finding and building compassion

Bodhipaksa Why did Bodhipaksa love this book?

Our final book offers more of an “old school” guide to developing kindness and compassion. By “old school” I mean that that the writings of Gunaratana, who is affectionately known by his fans as “Bhante G.” is firmly rooted in classic teachings from the Buddhist tradition. But he goes beyond that, drawing on his personal experience, quoting modern meditation teachers, and sharing the results of scientific studies of lovingkindness and compassion. And he does all this in a warm and kind way that makes reading this illuminating and practical book a true pleasure.

By Bhante Henepola Gunaratana,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Loving-Kindness in Plain English as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling author of Mindfulness in Plain English invites us to explore the joyful benefits of living with loving-kindness.

With his signature clarity and warmth, Bhante Gunaratana shares with us how we can cultivate loving-kindness to live a life of joyful harmony with others. Through personal anecdotes, step-by-step meditations, conversational renderings of the Buddha’s words in the suttas, and transformative insights into how we live in and relate to the world, we learn that peace here and now is possible—within ourselves and in all our relationships. Bhante G speaks directly to how we can cultivate loving-kindness to find emotional clarity,…


Book cover of Snarleyyow

Laura Nelson Author Of The Water Tiger

From my list on pirates (fact and fiction).

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in pirates began after attending the Real Pirates exhibit in Denver, Colorado, in 2011. All I can say now is that while I walked through the exhibit, I felt as though the pirates were personally speaking to me, asking me to tell the world their stories. I wrote several non-fiction articles about some of the men who sailed with Sam Bellamy on the Whydah Galley, the vessel featured in the exhibit. The writing and research were fun and fulfilling. In the last few years, I moved into fiction because I like reading fantasy myself and I wanted to explore the freedom of writing without having to document everything I wrote about.

Laura's book list on pirates (fact and fiction)

Laura Nelson Why did Laura love this book?

This is an entertaining, funny fiction novel that’s not exactly about pirates, but it does have a naval setting.

It’s about an ugly, bad-tempered dog and the people around him. This is an “old-style” novel, written long before our current concept of how a novel should be written came into being. I don’t see any reason a modern reader shouldn’t enjoy it.

By Frederick Marryat,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Excerpt from Snarleyyow

This was one of the ugliest and most ill-conditioned curs which had ever been produced ugly in colour; for he was of a dirty yellow, like the paint served out to deco rate our men-of-war by his Majesty's dockyards - ugly in face; for he had one wall-eye, and was so far under jawed as to prove that a bull-dog had had something to do with his creation ugly in' shape for although larger than a pointer, and strongly built, he was coarse and shambling in his make, with his forelegs bowed out. His ears and tail…


Book cover of Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

Marc Lesser Author Of Finding Clarity: How Compassionate Accountability Builds Vibrant Relationships, Thriving Workplaces and Meaningful Lives

From my list on helping you live a meaningful and successful life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I sometimes describe myself as a stealth Zen teacher working in the business world. I've founded and been CEO of three companies, including the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute, a company I helped create and launch inside of Google's headquarters. I'm an executive coach and consultant to CEOs and leaders in the corporate and non-profit worlds. Prior to my business career I was a resident of the San Francisco Zen Center for 10 years. I'm the author of 5 books.

Marc's book list on helping you live a meaningful and successful life

Marc Lesser Why did Marc love this book?

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the experts there are few" is one of hundreds of gems from this collection of talks by Shunryu Suzuki, founding teacher of the San Francisco Zen Center.

Living a meaningful and successful life requires cultivating a full-functioning mind and body. Here are simple and profound instructions for seeing through the world of greed, aversion, and delusion. Suzuki provides guidelines for redefining meaning and success, going way beyond the usual self-help realm and toward a way of transforming how you see and live in the world.

By Shunryu Suzuki,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named one of the 100 Best Spiritual Books of the Twentieth Century (Spirituality & Practice)

A 50th Anniversary edition of the bestselling Zen classic on meditation, maintaining a curious and open mind, and living with simplicity.

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."

So begins this most beloved of all American Zen books. Seldom has such a small handful of words provided a teaching as rich as has this famous opening line. In a single stroke, the simple sentence cuts through the pervasive tendency students have of getting so close to Zen…


Book cover of Deaf Sentence

Corinne Maier Author Of The Conquest of the Red Man

From my list on tongue-in-cheek about social classes and clashes.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a french writer, I like to write satires and tongue-in-cheek books about society. Work, children, France, social classes... When you find the right angle almost everything can be funny. With my writing I want to entertain, but give the reader something to think about. I hope this list will make you laugh as much I did. 

Corinne's book list on tongue-in-cheek about social classes and clashes

Corinne Maier Why did Corinne love this book?

Desmond, a retired teacher, is embarrassed by increasing deafness which he tries to hide. Hearing loss is a constant source of domestic friction with his busy wife and of social malaise, leading Desmond into mistakes and follies, and to find himself in incongruous situations. Comes Alex, a student whom Desmond has agreed to help after a misunderstanding at a party… Despite sensitive topics (deafness, confrontation with death), Deaf Sentence manages to be deeply entertaining with a lame love story and a disillusioned portrait of contemporary society. I recommend it to everyone, because we all feel overwhelmed from time to time. 

By David Lodge,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The subject of enthusiastic and widespread reviews, David Lodge's fourteenth work of fiction displays the humor and shrewd observations that have made him a much-loved icon. Deaf Sentence tells the story of Desmond Bates, a recently retired linguistics professor in his mid-sixties. Vexed by his encroaching deafness and at loose ends in his personal life, Desmond inadvertently gets involved with a seemingly personable young American female student who seeks his support in matters academic and not so academic, who finally threatens to destabilize his life completely with her unpredictable-and wayward-behavior. What emerges is a funny, moving account of one man's…


Book cover of If On A Winter's Night A Traveler

Zilla Novikov Author Of Query

From my list on books where the narrator won't stay out of the story.

Why am I passionate about this?

There's no particular reason why I'm the right person to talk about intrusive narrators. I studied math, not literature, in school, though variables can be as tricky as any imaginary character. As an unpopular child, I read a developmentally unhealthy number of books, but tragic backstories are a dime a dozen. I pepper my life with ironic asides to the Reader, but anyone with a devoted Reader (better yet, a dozen of them) can do that. To be honest, you'd probably have come up with a better list than I did. You should give it a shot.

Zilla's book list on books where the narrator won't stay out of the story

Zilla Novikov Why did Zilla love this book?

You know why this maddening, captivating book is on this list. Where else would you find it? Where could your chapter-by-fragmentary-chapter search have brought you but to this repository of titles?

Perhaps you will discover a deeper meaning waiting for you in these linked disconnections. You offer Ludmilla a glass of wine. The story awaits.

By Italo Calvino, William Weaver (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked If On A Winter's Night A Traveler as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel...Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade." —from If On A Winter's Night a Traveler

Italo Calvino's stunning classic imagines a novel capable of endless possibilities in an intricately crafted, spellbinding story about writing and reading.

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler is a feat of striking ingenuity and intelligence, exploring how our reading choices can shape and transform our lives. Originally published in 1979, Italo Calvino's singular novel crafted a postmodern narrative like never seen before—offering not one novel but ten, each with a…


Book cover of I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness

Deborah Sosin Author Of Charlotte and the Quiet Place

From my list on mindfulness and silence.

Why am I passionate about this?

Charlotte and the Quiet Place is somewhat autobiographical, as I tend to crave quiet. For many years, I’ve been meditating twice a day for 25 minutes. I relax my mind and body, sometimes silently repeating a word or sound or just breathing rhythmically. I’m almost always more peaceful and energized after meditating. In addition to being a writer, I’m a therapist with a mindfulness specialty. I believe deeply that every child (and adult, too) can tap into their quiet place inside by noticing what’s happening in their mind and body, no matter what’s going on in their lives. We all need this skill—now more than ever!  

Deborah's book list on mindfulness and silence

Deborah Sosin Why did Deborah love this book?

I Am Peace is part of a wonderful series by this well-known team. The series explores topics such as compassion, empathy, resilience, and what it is to be a feeling human being. I Am Peace is about a child (gender not identified) who worries about the past and future and learns how to comfort and ground themselves by noticing the here and now, breathing evenly, and practicing kindness toward themselves and others. The simple, sparse text expresses these rather deep ideas in ways that all children can understand: “I can watch my worries gently pop and disappear. I let things go"; “I can hug a tree and thank it for its beauty and strength.” The back matter features a discussion of mindfulness and a guided meditation.

By Susan Verde, Peter H. Reynolds (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When the world feels chaotic, find peace within through an accessible mindfulness practice from the bestselling picture-book dream team that brought us I Am Yoga. Express emotions through direct speech. Find empathy through imagination. Connect with the earth. Wonder at the beauty of the natural world. Breathe, taste, smell, touch, and be present.

Perfect for the classroom or for bedtime, Susan Verde's gentle, concrete narration and Peter H. Reynolds's expressive watercolor illustrations bring the tenets of mindfulness to a kid-friendly level. Featuring an author's note about the importance of mindfulness and a guided meditation for children, I Am Peace will…


Book cover of Finding Wild

Erica Silverman Author Of Wake Up, City!

From my list on celebrating cities.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an award-winning author of picture books and early readers. I have set my stories in many kinds of locations, including a haunted house, an Eastern European shtetl, an English Renaissance village, and a working cattle ranch. For Wake Up, City, I turned to the setting I know best, the city. I drew on memories of walking to kindergarten in early morning Brooklyn. This book is my love song to cities everywhere. As a lifelong city dweller, I worry about the impact of urban spread on the planet, but I feel hopeful, too, because many cities are becoming more nature and wildlife-friendly. The books I'm excited to share celebrate city wildlife. 

Erica's book list on celebrating cities

Erica Silverman Why did Erica love this book?

Told in lyrical language, two children wander through their city, looking for “wild” and finding it in motion, size, sounds, touch, and smell.“It leaps and pounces and  shows its teeth.” The words dance around, hinting at flora and fauna, using adjectives and verbs to suggest and evoke. This journey arouses awareness of the natural world that lives all around us in the city. Young readers will enjoy guessing what is being hinted at. This is such an original way to talk about the urban wild!  

By Megan Wagner Lloyd, Abigail Halpin (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Finding Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 3, 4, 5, and 6.

What is this book about?

A lovely, lyrical picture book with gorgeous illustrations that explores the ways the wild makes itself known to us and how much closer it is than we think.
 
There are so many places that wild can exist, if only you know where to look! Can you find it? Two kids set off on an adventure away from their urban home and discover all the beauty of the natural world. From the bark on the trees to the sudden storm that moves across the sky to fire and flowers, and snowflakes and fresh fruit. As the children make their way through…


Book cover of Zen Therapy: Transcending the Sorrows of the Human Mind

Alvin Raja Hornstein Author Of Working With the Dying: Compassion, Shame, and the Illusion of Loss

From my list on how psychotherapy and meditation work together.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been a meditator for fifty years, learning from many teachers. I've been a psychotherapist for twenty years. The connections between meditation and psychotherapy are subtle and powerful. When I started my psychology studies, I went to my Zen teacher and asked for his guidance. I knew I couldn't survive the academic path without more depth in my meditation practice. There were two professors who captured my attention: one, the most psychoanalytic teacher at my school, and one, a student of the same Zen master who taught Leonard Cohen. They guided my research. If you're a psychotherapist, are in psychotherapy yourself, or are a meditator, you will love these books.

Alvin's book list on how psychotherapy and meditation work together

Alvin Raja Hornstein Why did Alvin love this book?

Brazier begins with his own experience of Zen training, and then continues on to a survey of Buddhist ideas and how each of them relates to the practice of psychotherapy. For example he takes the profound and mysterious concept of karma and then shows us how this is related to the process of helping a patient understand their repetitive psychological patterns. He addresses the topic that was central to my own path of merging psychotherapy and meditation: how loss and death are teachers. He explains the main lesson they teach: what is lost is our illusion of how the world is put together.

By David Brazier,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Buddhism, from Abhidharma to Zen, offers a practical path to harmony of head and heart. For over 2,000 years Buddhists have been developing sophisticated psychologies to guide the work of achieving freedom from mental suffering. Now East and West are beginning to learn from each other.

In a readable and practical manner, this book challenges basic assumptions of Western psychology, demystifies Buddhist psychology and presents Zen as a therapy. Giving examples of its effectiveness in psychotherapeutic practice, the author shows how Zen derives from the Buddhist theory of the mind and throws new light upon the Buddhist theory of relations…