The best books on Taoism 📚

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

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

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

By Stephen Mitchell, Byron Katie

Why 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.

From the list:

The best books on endings and beginnings

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Book cover of Tao: The Watercourse Way

Tao: The Watercourse Way

By Alan Watts

Why this book?

The classic study by Alan Watts with calligraphy and preface by Al Chung-liang Huang. This, Alan Watts’s final book, takes the reader on an exploration of Taoist philosophy, focusing on the world view inherent in the Chinese language, the dynamic balance of yin and yang, and the power of wu-wei, the art of flowing with the process. Watts’ insights and passion make the book a valued and enduring introduction to the world of Tao.

From the list:

The best books on Taoism and how you can apply it to your life

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Book cover of The Art of War

The Art of War

By Sun Tzu, Skyhigh Publication

Why this book?

Some three decades ago I was teaching this work to a postgraduate class. At one point a young woman raised her hand. Professor she said, you do not understand. This is a Daoist Text.

It was as if a hammer had hit me on the head! I knew, or thought I knew, what war is, and I knew, or thought I knew, what Daoism is. What had never occurred to me was to bring the two together. Morale versus materiel. Strength versus weakness. Force versus guile. Maximum versus minimum force. The full versus the empty. And vice versa, of course.…

From the list:

The best books on war, full stop

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

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

By Ursula K. Le Guin

Why 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…

From the list:

The best books for godless heathens seeking spiritual enlightenment

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Book cover of Tao Te Ching

Tao Te Ching

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

Why this book?

There’s a class of books sometimes called “ancient texts” or “accumulated wisdom.” The idea is that they represent distilled knowledge that was passed down orally for hundreds or thousands of years before the invention of writing froze them in their present forms. To represent this collection, I’ve chosen the Tao Te Ching. It’s short — 81 brief chapters — and talks about things that concern us today, like how to handle anxiety and how to lead groups of people. But a word of caution: These texts will repay serious study and contemplation, but don’t take them too seriously. For…

From the list:

The best books for upsetting your orientation

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Book cover of Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life

Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life

By Chungliang Al Huang

Why this book?

This book takes the wisdom of Tao into the world of sports, combining Chung-liang Al Huang’s calligraphy and insights as a T’ai Ji master with sports psychologist Jerry Lynch’s use of Tao principles to coach professional, Olympic, and recreational athletes. Offering lessons from the enduring wisdom of Tao, along with exercises, affirmations, and encouragement, this book helps readers transcend the limits of Western dualism to discover a new path of joy and meaning in their athletic endeavors, careers, and personal lives.

From the list:

The best books on Taoism and how you can apply it to your life

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

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