The best Thích Nhất Hạnh books

Many authors have picked their favorite books about Thích Nhất Hạnh and why they recommend each book.

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Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Book cover of Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet

This is the most recent compilation of Thich Nhat Hanh’s thoughts, experiences, and teachings on humans within a more-than-human world, edited and with commentary by his brilliant, passionate student, Sister True Dedication. As always, Thich Nhat Hanh presents very practicable tools for cultural and personal awakening (one in the same). As always, he presents insight rooted more firmly in the ground of being than any other mind I have ever encountered. If there is a path by which the world and its inhabitants will thrive, it is the path that Thich Nhat Hanh walks.


Who am I?

Leah Naomi Green is the author of The More Extravagant Feast, selected by Li-Young Lee for the Walt Whitman Award of The Academy of American Poets. She received the 2021 Lucille Clifton Legacy Award for compassion, courage, truth-telling, and commitment to justice, as well an Academy of American Poets 2021 Treehouse Climate Action Poetry Prize. The More Extravagant Feast was named “one of the best books of 2020” by The Boston Globe, is a silver winner of the 2020 Nautilus Book Awards, and was featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered”. She lives in Rockbridge County, Virginia where she and her family homestead and grow or find much of their food for the year.


I wrote...

The More Extravagant Feast: Poems

By Leah Naomi Green,

Book cover of The More Extravagant Feast: Poems

What is my book about?

The More Extravagant Feast focuses on the trophic exchanges of a human body with the world via pregnancy, motherhood, and interconnection—the acts of making and sustaining other bodies from one’s own, and one’s own from the larger world. Leah Naomi Green writes from attentiveness to the vast availability and capacity of the weedy, fecund earth and from her own human place within more-than-human life, death, and birth.

Lyrically and spiritually rich, striving toward honesty and understanding, The More Extravagant Feast is an extraordinary book of awareness of our dependency on ecological systems—seen and unseen.

The Miracle of Mindfulness

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Book cover of The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

This little book is the best introduction to the practice – and benefits – of mindfulness I know. It is easy to make meditation more complicated than it needs to be, and Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh keeps drawing you back to the simple essence of the practice, and to the peaceful aura of the present. Just above my computer screen I have one of his postcards pinned to the wall. “Here I am, sitting in this room, aware of the chair, aware of the sitting, aware of the breathing – aware of this precious moment.” What an effective stress-buster – bringing me back from the maelstroms of thoughts inside my head to the simple, pleasurable fact of just being alive, here, now, and enabling me to reset the emotional dashboard!


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.


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The Heart of Buddhism: Practical Wisdom for an Agitated World

By Guy Claxton,

Book cover of The Heart of Buddhism: Practical Wisdom for an Agitated World

What is my book about?

My Mom was a church-going Christian, so when she found out I was interested in Buddhism she was quite suspicious. (It was actually an escalation of the suspicion she had felt when I had switched my degree major from chemistry to psychology.) This book started life as my attempt to explain to people like my Mom why Buddhism wasn't scary and weird, but a sensible and positive approach to life and the attempt to get better at it. So it is a down-to-earth introduction, shorn of all the exotic trappings. No saffron robes, no tying your legs in knots, no reincarnation.

A Path with Heart

By Jack Kornfield,

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

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.


Who am I?

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.


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Shunned: How I Lost My Religion and Found Myself

By Linda A. Curtis,

Book cover of Shunned: How I Lost My Religion and Found Myself

What is my book about?

Linda Curtis was raised as a Jehovah's Witness and is an unquestioning true believer who has knocked on doors from the time she was nine years old. Like other Witnesses, she has been discouraged from pursuing a career, higher education, or even voting, and her friendships are limited to the Witness community.
Then one day, at age thirty-three, she knocks on a door--and a coworker she deeply respects answers the door. To their mutual consternation she launches into her usual spiel, but this time, for the first time ever, the message sounds hollow. In the months that follow, Curtis tries hard to overcome the doubts that spring from that doorstep encounter, knowing they could upend her "safe" existence. But ultimately, unable to reconcile her incredulity, she leaves her religion and divorces her Witness husband--a choice for which she is shunned by the entire community, including all members of her immediate family.

Shunned follows Linda as she steps into a world she was taught to fear and discovers what is possible when we stay true to our hearts, even when it means disappointing those we love.

Peace Is Every Step

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Book cover of Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

This slender book is my “bible” for inspiration as well as mindfulness. (One can’t go wrong with a book that includes a foreword by H.H. the Dalai Lama!) The first essay, “Twenty-four Brand-New Hours,” reminds me that each day affords an opportunity to bring “peace, joy, and happiness to ourselves and others.” Thich Nhat Hanh, described in the introduction as “a cross between a cloud, a snail and a piece of heavy machinery—a true religious presence,” humbly offers simple ways to be present in the moment (the only moment we have, btw!). “We are very good at preparing to live,” the author reminds us, “but not very good at living.” The essays in Peace Is Every Step inspire me to breathe more, think less, wake up, and feel alive.   


Who am I?

I strive to inspire others through my writing, yoga card decks, and workshops; therefore, I’m passionate about finding inspiration and passing it on to others. For me discovering a dose of wise counsel or learning how someone else endured and overcame challenging times is a lifeline…especially when I feel hopelessly stuck. These 5 books are a balm for the soul, quieting the negative self-talk long enough to clear a path to joy, optimism, and creativity. I hope these recommendations bring the same sense of inspiration for you…just when you need it most! 


I wrote...

Essential Yoga: An Illustrated Guide to Over 100 Yoga Poses and Meditations

By Olivia H. Miller, Nicole Kauffman (illustrator),

Book cover of Essential Yoga: An Illustrated Guide to Over 100 Yoga Poses and Meditations

What is my book about?

Have you ever opened a yoga book intending to do yoga only to end up reading about yoga instead of actually practicing? That’s where Essential Yoga comes in. Designed to get you on the mat, this reference guide features over 100 hatha yoga poses, breathing exercises, and meditations. Detailed illustrations accompany concise, bulleted instructions and descriptions of the many physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of a regular yoga practice. The interactive book, featuring a lay-flat binding for ease of use, also includes 6 classic yoga routines, 10 yoga sessions, and 48 mini-sequences geared to supporting specific activities and/or alleviating various health conditions. Whether new to yoga or a long-time practitioner, Essential Yoga helps users prevent injury and keep their practice interesting and alive!

The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Book cover of The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering Into Peace, Joy, and Liberation

If you’re interested in learning about Buddhism, you don’t want to go the route of Buddhism for Dummies; you want to read the words of true Buddhist masters who are pioneers in the field of making this ancient tradition accessible and relevant to our modern world. The Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh is famous for his peaceful demeanor as well as making Buddhism applicable and meditation easy to grasp and practice. While all of his books are lovely (you can even check out the recent shorter books such as How to Love or How to Fight) this book goes over the foundations of what the Buddha taught so for our purposes it hits the top of the list.


Who am I?

Lodro Rinzler has taught Buddhism for 20 years, starting when he was just 18 years-old. He is the author of seven meditation books including the best-seller The Buddha Walks into a Bar, and the co-founder of MNDFL meditation studios in New York City. His books Walk Like a Buddha and The Buddha Walks into the Office both have received Independent Publisher Book Awards. Named one of 50 Innovators Shaping the Future of Wellness by SONIMA, Rinzler's new book is Take Back Your Mind: Buddhist Advice for Anxious Times.


I wrote...

Take Back Your Mind: Buddhist Advice for Anxious Times

By Lodro Rinzler,

Book cover of Take Back Your Mind: Buddhist Advice for Anxious Times

What is my book about?

If you are reading this, than you're likely plagued with anxiety. The good news is that you don't have to be. You can live a life without so much anxiety and stress. You can train the mind to feel contentment, peace, and joy-even in the midst of difficult circumstances.

Best-selling author and long-time Buddhist meditation teacher Lodro Rinzler shows us how to work with the mind so that we don't hold ourselves in a state of stress and learn to relax into and appreciate our world once more. What you hold is a guidebook with practical and easy-to-implement steps for how to take back your mind.

Teaching to Transgress

By bell hooks,

Book cover of Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

This 1994 classic by the late bell hooks never ceases to inspire us. “To educate is a practice of freedom,” hooks writes. She means that to be truly educated means to be liberated: to understand the forms of oppression, coercion, and limits imposed on learners because of class, gender, racial, sexual bias, and in every other way. hooks points to the barriers that keep us from being our very best selves. She inspires every reader to self-educate, self-reflect, find and build communities of support in order to live a better life. She inspires every educator to make, as their objective, not just the teaching of content but transmission of the tools that allow each student to achieve their own best aspirations for their lives and their community. 


Who are we?

We are two college-level educators, one has had a long career, one a recent PhD. We share a commitment to lifelong learning, not just in the classroom but beyond. And we love learning from one another. We wrote The New College Classroom together during the pandemic, meeting over Zoom twice a week, discussing books by other educators, writing and revising and rewriting every word together, finding ways to think about improving our students’ lives for a better future even as the world seemed grim. The books we cherish share those values: hope, belief in the next generation, and a deep commitment to learning even in—especially in—the grimmest of times.


We wrote...

The New College Classroom

By Cathy N. Davidson and Christina Katopodis,

Book cover of The New College Classroom

What is our book about?

College teaching is stuck in the past. If a time traveler from a century ago arrived on today’s campuses, they would recognize only too well the listlessness of the lecture hall and the awkward silence of the seminar room. Yet we know how to do better. Cathy N. Davidson and Christina Katopodis, two of the world’s foremost innovators in higher education, turn to the latest learning science to tell us about inspiring, effective, and inclusive teaching. Davidson and Katopodis explain how and why their approach works and provide detailed case studies of educators successfully applying active-learning techniques in their courses every day, ensuring that their students are better prepared for the world after college. 

True Love

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Book cover of True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart

To truly love another, we must first learn what true love is. A love that shifts and changes depending on circumstances, or depending on how someone else responds or behaves, is not built on the right foundation and is sure to cause suffering. But a love that emanates naturally from genuine presence, that asks nothing in return – cultivated through lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and freedom—is strong enough to weather any storm, and is perhaps the greatest gift any parent can offer.


Who am I?

As a child, I grew up with a mom and dad who, like just about every parent, did the best they could with the tools they had. Unknowingly, though, they also carried forward into their roles as parents their own unhealed wounds from the past. Luckily for me, my parents sought to become more self-aware as I grew from child to adult. In this book, we aim to share some of the tools and practices that can help parents find wholeness in themselves from the beginning of the parent-child relationship, and avoid many of the pitfalls that can cause unnecessary conflicts and suffering in family living.


I wrote...

Calm Mama, Happy Baby: The Simple, Intuitive Way to Tame Tears, Improve Sleep, and Help Your Family Thrive

By Jennifer Waldburger, Derek O'Neill,

Book cover of Calm Mama, Happy Baby: The Simple, Intuitive Way to Tame Tears, Improve Sleep, and Help Your Family Thrive

What is my book about?

Eye-opening neuroscientific research shows that your stress and unresolved psychological pain directly affect your child's mood, behavior, and health. The good news is that you can learn how to take responsibility for the energy you bring to the parent-child relationship – and allow your child to develop unburdened by a legacy of negative or destructive patterns.

Drawing on their experience in nearly two decades of working with parents in Hollywood and around the globe, Derek O'Neill and Jennifer Waldburger give parents practical tools for finding your center as a parent and a person, regardless of what is happening with your child. Calm Mama, Happy Baby helps you parent intuitively, with confidence.

Living Buddha, Living Christ

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Book cover of Living Buddha, Living Christ

There is a misconception that reading Buddhist scripture would somehow steer the reader away from God, but given the chance, it does exactly the opposite, actually strengthening the reader's existing faith (whatever it may be). Many of the people who attend my public talks, discussions, and Q&A’s, jokingly refer to themselves as “Recovering Catholics” in search of deeper meaning, and this book beautifully bridges the gap between traditions, highlighting how compatible the two practices can be with one another.  


Who am I?

Having studied what people believe (and why we believe what we do), it’s important to question the origin of our opinions, who gave them to us, and most importantly, why we are still carrying them today. I’m drawn to books that make you think rather than telling you what to think. 


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Buddhist Boot Camp

By Timber Hawkeye,

Book cover of Buddhist Boot Camp

What is my book about?

A collection of journal entries on a journey to living a simple and uncomplicated life. Each chapter is only a page long and can be read in any order. While the book is not about Buddhism in the scholarly sense, it is an invitation to mindfully live at peace with the world (both within and around us), with the intention to awaken, enlighten, enrich, and inspire. As the Dalai Lama says, "Don't try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are."

No Mud, No Lotus

By Thich Nhat Hanh,

Book cover of No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering

I have read almost 40 books from Thich Nhat Hanh and every time I read his books, I feel a deep sense of peace.

I recommend this book to deal with the inner critic because it is about transforming suffering. Instead of running away from our emotional pain, the book teaches us to be present with it. I love how the author uses lotus as an analogy to help us see the beneficial aspects of all things. 

In his book, he wrote “We need to have mud for lotuses to grow. Without mud, there can be no lotus.” This reminds me to not reject the inner critic, but use it as an excellent teacher for my own growth.


Who am I?

I grew up with low self-esteem. As an introvert, I found it difficult to make friends in school and I feel I wasn’t good enough for others. Even when I had my first job, I found myself tearing up in the restroom cubicle one day, feeling defective and unable to fit in. That set me off on a journey to improve my self-esteem. I began reading a lot and taking courses on this topic. For years, I felt more confident and worthy. However, it wasn’t until I had a depression that I was truly transformed. After I recovered, I become committed to living peacefully.


I wrote...

The Disbelief Habit: How to Use Doubt to Make Peace with Your Inner Critic

By Yong Kang Chan,

Book cover of The Disbelief Habit: How to Use Doubt to Make Peace with Your Inner Critic

What is my book about?

This book is about building a habit of mindfulness to help you deal with your inner critic.

If you grew up with low self-esteem like me, you most likely have a critical voice in your head that constantly tells you that you aren’t good enough. Many of us try to stop or silence these self-loathing thoughts. But we end up blaming ourselves when we failed to do so. This book approaches negative thinking with mindfulness. Instead of suppressing your thoughts, you use awareness and discernment to break the self-criticism cycle. When mindfulness becomes a new habit, you will feel at peace with all your thoughts, regardless if they are positive or negative.

Full Catastrophe Living

By Jon Kabat-Zinn,

Book cover of Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness

Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness is a wonderful primer on Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD with a Preface by famed Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. This wonderful book shows how to use ancient modalities like breathwork and Mindfulness to heal the stresses and illnesses of the modern world. It removes the fear some may have that these are meaningless or rooted in superstition or that performing them is somehow in violation of the religion you practice. Dr. Kabat-Zinn anchors the practices in science. This book informed so much of what I added to my work as an organizer.  


Who am I?

I am known as The Zen Organizer and the author of 10 books on organizing. I’ve been working one-on-one with clients for over 30 years. I grew up in Brooklyn and now make Los Angeles my home. We tend to see our lives in unrelated compartments. I grew up with organized parents. As an adult I began to study the body from nutrition to movement. I opened myself to therapy initially to be a better actress. All of these interests dovetailed in the world of organizing and I found my life’s purpose. Zen Organizing creates a physical environment that nurtures you as you find and fulfill your Life Purpose.


I wrote...

One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week by Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good

By Regina Leeds,

Book cover of One Year to an Organized Life: From Your Closets to Your Finances, the Week by Week Guide to Getting Completely Organized for Good

What is my book about?

A successful battle with cancer 20 years ago showed me that organizing was more than closets, kitchens, or file systems. It was in fact a way of thinking that would enable you to face any challenge life offered from chemotherapy treatments to taming an unruly closet. Organizing was a tool in a grab bag of self-help tools that might include modalities like meditation, aromatherapy, or Feng Shui.

The book is a combination of how-to organizing instructions and my philosophy called Zen Organizing™. The newly updated version will be out in late December 2022. It’s now a very Mindful book.

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