The most recommended Tao Te Ching books

Who picked these books? Meet our 17 experts.

17 authors created a book list connected to Tao Te Ching, and here are their favorite Tao Te Ching books.
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Book cover of Tao Te Ching

Neal Allen Author Of Better Days: Tame Your Inner Critic

From my list on books on spirituality for people who hate books on spirituality.

Why am I passionate about this?

Until my early 50s, I detested all things spiritual. These books showed up practically on their own, without dogma or jargon, mainly to convince me that the divine existed. They’re easy to read and open to interpretation. They tricked me into a spiritual life by making it seem logical and simply a place to explore at my leisure. I try to write things that are clear and simple, and these books persuaded me that the ineffable isn’t so hard to write about. Also, I could return to these books years later, and they still speak to me. Each is capable of opening something new to me later in life.

Neal's book list on books on spirituality for people who hate books on spirituality

Neal Allen Why did Neal love this book?

Most ancient wisdom texts require a lot of effort. I love the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, the Buddhist Discourses, Dogen, Plato, Krishnamurti, and so on. But to read them, I have to take some time out of my day.

This book is a scroll of 81 aphorisms. I can pick any one, spend a little time with it, and get on with my day.

Plus, it starts with a bang: “The Way that you hear about is not the real Way.” I am invited to be confused! That takes all the pressure off me to figure it out. 

By Lao Tzu, Gia-fu Geng (translator), Jane English (translator) , Toinette Lippe (translator)

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Tao Te Ching as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For nearly two generations, this bestselling translation of the Tao Te Ching has been the standard for those seeking access to the wisdom of Taoist thought. Now Jane English and her long-time editor, Toinette Lippe, have refreshed and revised the translation, so that it more faithfully reflects the Classical Chinese in which it was first written, while taking into account changes in our own language and eliminating any lingering infelicities. This beautiful oversized edition features over a hundred new photographs by Jane English that help express the vast spirit of the Tao. Also included is an introduction by the well-known…


Book cover of Myth: A Biography of Belief

Graeme Davis Author Of Thor: Viking God of Thunder

From my list on mythology and its impact on the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Graeme Davis has been fascinated by myth and folklore ever since he saw Ray Harryhausen’s creatures in Jason and the Argonauts as a child. While studying archaeology at Durham University, he became far too involved with a new game called Dungeons & Dragons and went on to a career in fantasy games. He has written game sourcebooks on various ancient cultures and their myths, and worked as a researcher and consultant on multiple video games with historical and mythological settings.

Graeme's book list on mythology and its impact on the world

Graeme Davis Why did Graeme love this book?

This short book takes a deep dive into the nature of mythology and its relationship to the human mind. As well as the mythologies of past civilizations, Leeming examines modern-day myths and cultural beliefs and shows how myths are living and evolving things that serve a human need to understand the universe. If you have ever wondered what makes a myth a myth, or why everyone seems to have them, this book has some interesting answers.

By David Leeming,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Joseph Campbell wrote that mythology is "the wonderful song of the soul's high adventure." In Myth, David Leeming considers the role this "wonderful song" has to play in a world increasingly dependent on scientific and technical information.
Exploring classic works such as the Song of Songs, the Tao Te Ching, the Rg Veda, the New Testament, and the Indonesian myth of Hainuwele, Myth reveals the cultural energies that ancient "mythmakers" sought to corral in their creations. Leeming argues that myths are, by definition, evolving creations that live on in the work of modern-day "mythmakers" such as W.B. Yeats, Virginia Woolf,…


Book cover of Tao Te Ching

Isaac Getz Author Of Freedom Inc.: How Corporate Liberation Unleashes Employee Potential and Business Performance

From my list on transformational leadership books that will help you to practice it.

Why am I passionate about this?

One remarkable leader I've studied, Bob Davids, said that the greatest scarcity in the world is not oil or food but leadership. For two decades, I've been on a quest to uncover the essence of a transformational leader, someone who cultivates an environment where employees' needs are so well-addressed that they are eager to show up and give their best every day. This journey led me to study hundreds of leaders and books, all serving as the foundation for my thoughts and writings. I trust that these books will kickstart your own journey. Mine has guided me to play a pivotal role in the corporate liberation movement, involving hundreds of leaders who have transformed their organizations.

Isaac's book list on transformational leadership books that will help you to practice it

Isaac Getz Why did Isaac love this book?

I admire this first-ever book stating the principles of authentic leadership. Written by the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu in the 6th century BCE, it comprises a collection of paradoxical, enigmatic, and profound teachings that laid the foundation of Taoism.

I love all of them, but here is one regarding leadership: “Why do the hundred rivers turn and rush toward the sea? / Because it naturally stays below them / He who wishes to rule over the people must speak as if below them.”

While delving into this book, I find myself astounded by the universality and timelessness of the truths it unveils about authentic servant leadership. This modest volume—which adorns my bedroom as a wooden scroll—has proven to be a revelation, offering continuous inspiration to me.

By Lao Tzu, Sam Torode (translator), Dwight Goddard (translator)

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Tao Te Ching as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Path to Peace

The Tao Te Ching is a series of meditations on the mysterious nature of the Tao—the Way, the Light, the very Source of all existence. According to Lao Tzu (a name meaning "the old master"), the Tao is found where we would least expect it—not in the strong but in the weak; not in speech but in silence; not in doing but in "not-doing."

Compiled in China around 2,500 years ago, the Tao Te Ching is beloved by seekers all the world over. This edition is rendered in poetic language by Sam Torode, based on the…


Book cover of The Tao of Leadership: Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching Adapted for a New Age

Diane Dreher Author Of The Tao of Inner Peace

From my list on Taoism and how you can apply it to your life.

Why am I passionate about this?

Diane Dreher is the author of The Tao of Inner Peace, The Tao of Personal Leadership, and The Tao of Womanhood. She has been fascinated by Eastern philosophy since her childhood in the Philippine Islands. In addition to her doctoral degree in English from UCLA and master’s in counseling from Santa Clara University, she has studied Taoism, trained in aikido, and become a reiki master. She enjoys applying the lessons of Tao in her teaching, consulting, and international coaching practice.

Diane's book list on Taoism and how you can apply it to your life

Diane Dreher Why did Diane love this book?

John Heider’s book takes the wisdom of Tao into the world of leadership, offering timeless wisdom and practical advice for leaders. Readers will learn about the power of presence in relationships, as well as how to pay attention, trust the process, and stay centered in the midst of challenge and conflict to become more effective and inspiring leaders.

By John Heider,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

You can't lead without this classic, updated and in its 2nd edition.This bestselling masterpiece of practical philosophy will guide you to enhanced interpersonal relationships and the cultivation of enduring leadership qualities.Heider provides simplest and clearest advice on how to be the very best kind of leader: be faithful, trust the process, pay attention, and inspireothers to become their own leaders. The Tao of Leadership is a blend of practical insight and profound wisdom, offering inspiration and advice.Often used as a Management/Leadership training text by many Fortune 500 corporations, IBM, Mitsubishi, Prudential, GE, Intel, Converse, the Israeli Intelligence Corps, and more.


Book cover of Tao Te Ching

Traci Harding Author Of The Twelve Chapters of the Infinite Night

From my list on inciting the imagination.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was in my teens when I discovered that if I focused on something hard enough I could manifest it. During my investigations into whether others had experienced this, I discovered the Adyar Bookstore in the Strand Arcade in Sydney, and that I had an insatiable thirst for all texts metaphysical, historical, and quantum theory. Turns out that many of the greatest thinkers in history believed that humans hold sway over many of the events and occurrence of their own lives, including Einstein, Plato, Tesla, Carl Sagan, and more. My books are the product of my exploration into the nature of personal reality, spirituality, and the meaning of life.

Traci's book list on inciting the imagination

Traci Harding Why did Traci love this book?

Tao de Ching is the basis of the Taoist belief system, which, unlike other spiritual text, is filled with not just profound, but practical advice for navigating this world in a way that benefits the self, others, and the world at large. 

Tao de Ching simply means ‘The Book of the Way’. The name of the sage to whom this book is attributed, Lao-tzu, could be translated to mean ‘the Old Master’.

I was so inspired by these writings that I wished to create a book about such a Master - based in the time of those great adepts like Confucius, the Buddha, and indeed Lao-Tzu - and weave these life-changing teachings throughout. 

Hence the idea for my own book was ignited.

By Lao Tzu, Stephen Mitchell (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

' What is rooted is easy to nourish

What is recent is easy to correct'

Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching (The Book of the Way) is the classic manual on the art of living. In 81 short, poetic chapters, the book looks at the basic predicament of being alive and teaches how to work for the good with the effortless skill that comes from being in accord with the Tao, or the basic principle of the universe.

Stephen Mitchell' s acclaimed translation is accompanied by ancient Chinese paintings that beautifully reflect Lao Tzu' s timeless words.

An illustrated edition of…


Book cover of A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are

Linda A. Curtis Author Of Shunned: How I Lost My Religion and Found Myself

From my list on endings and beginnings.

Why am I passionate about this?

Linda mentors individuals who are going through major life events to experience honorable closure and move into the future, unencumbered by the past. The best-selling author of Shunned – How I Lost My Religion and Found Myself  her work draws on contemporary neuroscience, wisdom traditions, social science, and her own life experience navigating ends large and small.

Linda's book list on endings and beginnings

Linda A. Curtis Why did Linda love this book?

I come back to these short essays again and again. The author provides a very powerful way to look at ‘reality’ and question our assumptions about what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and what we (or others) ‘should’ do.

By Byron Katie, Stephen Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Thousand Names for Joy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Byron Katie is one of the truly great and inspiring teachers of our time. I encourage everyone to immerse themselves in this phenomenal book.” –Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

In her first two books, Loving What Is and I Need Your Love–Is That True? Byron Katie showed how suffering can be ended by questioning the stressful thoughts that create it. Now, in A Thousand Names for Joy, she encourages us to discover the freedom that lives on the other side of inquiry.

Stephen Mitchell–the renowned translator of the Tao Te Ching–selected provocative excerpts from that ancient text as a stimulus for…


Book cover of Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

Margarette Allyn Author Of Running from Yesterday: A True Story of Hope, Courage and Love

From my list on making it fun to be a better person.

Why am I passionate about this?

One of the most important lessons I learned from my grandma is that children have no fear or self-doubt unless they are taught to have these feelings, and then it's a choice to continue to believe in self-doubt. However, I was paralyzed by it after her death. I stopped being a carefree kid and started living through emotional survival. I lived a life of physical, mental, and emotional turmoil, and by a miracle, I was spared and given a chance to change it all. I am a dancer, writer, performer, and speaker, following every dream I've had. 

Margarette's book list on making it fun to be a better person

Margarette Allyn Why did Margarette love this book?

For starters, the title caught my attention; I was in a lot of emotional pain and doubted many of my decisions. I didn't realize I was seeking outward contentment and happiness for many years.

This book was written after I read The Secret. So, it was in the same genre of books I had started to read. I listened to Wayne Dyer on YouTube and loved his talks, and when I heard of the book, I felt it wouldn't hurt to read it.

I was drawn in with his simple way of pointing out that maybe we are the reason for our misery, and we, along with faith, can turn our lives in a different direction. Start by loving ourselves enough to know that we don't deserve misery. And no matter what someone else did to us in the past, forgiveness is possible, and healing starts right then and…

By Wayne W. Dyer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Five hundred years before the birth of Jesus, a God-realized being named Lao-tzu in ancient China dictated 81 verses, which are regarded by many as the ultimate commentary on the nature of our existence. The classic text of these 81 verses, called the Tao Te Ching or the Great Way, offers advice and guidance that is balanced, moral, spiritual, and always concerned with working for the good. In this book, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer has reviewed hundreds of translations of the Tao Te Ching and has written 81 distinct essays on how to apply the ancient wisdom of Lao-tzu to…


Book cover of Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the Way

Maren Showkeir Author Of Yoga Wisdom at Work: Finding Sanity Off the Mat and On the Job

From my list on godless heathens seeking spiritual enlightenment.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many people who consciously decided to leave the constrictive religion to which they were randomly born (and raised), I see retrospectively that the decision was an essential act of self-preservation and self-actualization. I abandoned the transactional relationship with a Judging God, including its barter of mindless obedience in exchange for a heavenly eternity after death. In doing so, I discovered my true soul. Through “godless” practices and continual seeking, I have discovered a profound, meaningful spirituality. The books on this list are among so many that have expanded my thinking and helped me become, I hope, a better human along the way. It is my pleasure to recommend them to you.

Maren's book list on godless heathens seeking spiritual enlightenment

Maren Showkeir Why did Maren love this book?

This comprehensive, beautiful “rendition” (in Le Guin’s words) of Lao Tzu’s ancient wisdom packs an elegant spiritual punch, especially for the Western mind. I love that Le Guin was a teenager when she began studying her father’s 1898 version of the Tao. She worked for decades to create a version that would break the work’s enduring gaze toward the male-oriented “sage.” As she writes in the introduction: “I wanted a Book of the Way accessible to a present-day, unwise, unpowerful, and perhaps unmale reader, not seeking esoteric secrets, but listening for a voice that speaks to the soul.” Her commentary is illuminating, as though a strong gust of rain-washed air blew off the old dust, allowing sharper, fresher meanings to emerge. Check out Number 53. It’s good for a chuckle!

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the few translations by a woman of the Tao Teh Ching, this version is the fruit of Ursula K. LeGuin's life's study and reflection. According to her introduction, the work is intended for those "not seeking esoteric secrets, but listening for a voice that speaks to the soul".


Book cover of The Bhagavad Gita: A New Translation and Study Guide

Daniel Simpson Author Of The Truth of Yoga: A Comprehensive Guide to Yoga's History, Texts, Philosophy, and Practices

From my list on the truth of yoga.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been studying yoga in various forms since my first trip to India in the 1990s. I began as a curious tourist, attending the world's biggest human gathering (the Kumbh Mela). After working as a foreign correspondent—initially for Reuters then The New York Times—I returned to university, earning a master's degree in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation. I've since taught courses at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, on yoga teacher trainings, and via my website. The Truth of Yoga is the book I wish I'd found when I started exploring.

Daniel's book list on the truth of yoga

Daniel Simpson Why did Daniel love this book?

Perhaps the most relevant traditional text to a modern practitioner, presenting yoga as a way to act wisely in everyday life. Its teachings are accessibly conveyed by an accurate translation, interspersed with commentary that breaks up the text into manageable sections. Although its title means “God’s song,” it describes the divine in a variety of ways, from the fruits of meditation to loving kindness. Sutton’s clear explanations allow for a range of interpretations. 

By Nicholas Sutton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This short course sets out a detailed study of the text, philosophy, and contemporary significance of the teachings found within the Bhagavad Gita.

The Bhagavad Gita, which was spoken perhaps five thousand years ago and whose written form has been extant for over two thousand years, has continued to inspire new generations of seekers in the East and West for centuries.  Gandhi in the East and Thoreau, Emerson, Einstein, and others in the West found within its pages deep wisdom, comfort, and contemporary applications to their lives and times.  

The Gita ranks with the Bible, Dhammapada, Dao De Jing, Qu’ran,…


Book cover of Tao Te Ching: A New English Version

Jonathan Ellerby Author Of The Seven Gateways of Spiritual Experience: Awakening to a Deeper Knowledge of Love, Life Balance, and God

From my list on spiritually-focused books to awaken your heart, mind, and soul.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love books! I wrote my first book as a science project at age 11. As a writer, books are my passion. Specifically, I have been interested in the nature of consciousness and healing since I was 12 years old. I started reading everything I could get my hands on at that time and continued voraciously until I completed my Ph.D. around the age of 30. Many themes in transformation and spirituality I read almost exhaustively – Indigenous studies, cross-cultural healing, the nature of mind, and the nature of the soul. I have always needed to keep books around me just to feel at home.

Jonathan's book list on spiritually-focused books to awaken your heart, mind, and soul

Jonathan Ellerby Why did Jonathan love this book?

This specific translation by Stephen Mitchell changed my life. I love its poetic style, his contemporary but timeless references, and the way he captures the essence of the mystical worldview.

It’s as close to a perfect spiritual text as I can imagine. If I were allowed only one book for the rest of my life, this would likely be it. If I could suggest one book for every twelfth-grade student to read, study, and discuss, it might be this one!

By Lao Tzu, Stephen Mitchell (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The bestselling, widely acclaimed translation from Stephen Mitchell

"Mitchell's rendition of the Tao Te Ching comes as close to being definitive for our time as any I can imagine. It embodies the virtues its translator credits to the Chinese original: a gemlike lucidity that is radiant with humor, grace, largeheartedness, and deep wisdom." — Huston Smith, author of The Religions of Man

In eighty-one brief chapters, Lao-tzu's Tao Te Ching, or Book of the Way, provides advice that imparts balance and perspective, a serene and generous spirit, and teaches us how to work for the good with the effortless skill…