The most recommended books about Tibet

Who picked these books? Meet our 35 experts.

35 authors created a book list connected to Tibet, and here are their favorite Tibet books.
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Wonders of the Natural Mind

By Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche,

Book cover of Wonders of the Natural Mind: The Essense of Dzogchen in the Native Bon Tradition of Tibet

Alejandro Chaoul Author Of Tibetan Yoga: Magical Movements of Body, Breath, and Mind

From the list on the Tibetan Bon-Buddhist yogic path.

Who am I?

Maybe reincarnation, maybe early interest, but since elementary school I had a call that I didn’t quite understand. It became clearer as I moved through high school, college, and grad school. Traveling to India and Nepal from 1989-1990 for 9 months was the gestation period for my interest in this Tibetan yogic path. I was fortunate to continue training at Ligmincha International as well as in Menri Monastery in India, Tritan Norbutse in Nepal, and visit Tibet. From teaching in the US, Latin America, and Europe, my greatest privilege was the 20 years at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, connecting with people at a deep human level.

Alejandro's book list on the Tibetan Bon-Buddhist yogic path

Why did Alejandro love this book?

This is Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche’s first book in English. And what I love about this book is that he puts it all out, no withholding. He talks about his life as a child entering the monastic life, at the monastery not too far from his house, and relates how he visited his mom, and the mantras he would recite if he was scared at night coming back to the monastery.

He describes his powerful dreams and the practice of dark retreat, where he stayed for the traditional 49 days when he was only fifteen years old. And the wonderful experiences, visions, and connections to the higher dzogchen practices of cutting through discursive throughs (trekchod) and leaps of visions (thogyal).

By Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wonders of the Natural Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Although the Dzogchen teachings are principally familiar to Westerners through the teachings of the Nyingma school, they also survive in the ancient Bön Religion of Tibet. Wonders of the Natural Mind presents Dzogchen as taught in the Zhang Zhung Nyan Gyud, the fundamental Bön text. The book summarizes the main points of Dzogchen and its relation to the various systems of Bön teaching. In offering these teachings, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche provides the reader with a vivid and engaging portrait of Bön culture as he interweaves the teachings with his personal story and reflections on the practice of Dzogchen in the…

Tea Horse Road

By Michael Freeman, Selena Ahmed,

Book cover of Tea Horse Road: China's Ancient Trade Road to Tibet

Jane Pettigrew Author Of Jane Pettigrew's World of Tea: Discovering Producing Regions and Their Teas

From the list on tea and tea history.

Who am I?

I fell into the world of tea by chance in the 1980s when I gave up a career in higher education to open a 1930s style tearoom in southwest London. I grew up in the 1950s in a typical British family that drank tea throughout the day but little did I know, as I baked endless supplies of scones and cakes for the tearoom at 4 am every day, that I would end up writing books and magazine articles, editing a tea magazine for the UK Tea Council, speaking at world tea conferences, training staff in hotels, travelling to almost every major tea producing country, and eventually working today as Director of Studies at the UK Tea Academy.

Jane's book list on tea and tea history

Why did Jane love this book?

This hefty tome is a dream book for anyone fascinated, as I am, by the ancient trade road, dating back to the 7th century AD and stretching over 1000 miles, along which tea was carried on the backs of pack animals from southwest China up to Lhasa, where it was traded for Tibetan ponies. Freeman’s wonderful photographs and Ahmad’s text capture and explain the life of the villagers in the famous tea mountains of southern Yunnan, where tea trees live up to 3,000 years; the rituals of the Buddhist priests in their temples; the different ethnic peoples that live in the remote regions along the road; the ceremonies that take place to honour the ancient tea trees, and views of the landscape where rivers wind, yaks graze, and life revolves around tea.

By Michael Freeman, Selena Ahmed,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the longest and most dramatic trade routes of the ancient world, the Tea Horse Road carried a crucial exchange for 13 centuries between China and Tibet. China needed war horses to protect its northern frontier and Tibet could supply them. When the Tibetans discovered tea in the 7th century, it became a staple of their diet, but its origins are in southwest China, and they had to trade for it.

The result was a network of trails covering more than 3,000 kilometers through forests, gorges and high passes onto the Himalayan plateaus, traversed by horse, mule and yak…

Book cover of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Mada Eliza Dalian Author Of In Search of the Miraculous: Healing into Consciousness

From the list on spirituality and self-discovery.

Who am I?

I was 5 when I saw my grandfather die. He drank morphene from a bottle, to stop his cancer pains, and soon after he stopped breathing. In the silent peace that followed, I realized that I too shall die one day, and life on earth will continue. The questions, Who am I? Where do I come from? What am I doing here? and Where will I go when I die? felt like the most important questions to find answers to before I die. The book, In Search of the Miraculous: Healing into Consciousness, was written fifty years later, and is the fruit of my search and discovery of answers to these questions.

Mada's book list on spirituality and self-discovery

Why did Mada love this book?

If we want to live life fully we must embrace death fully.

Death is an integral part of life, which cannot be ignored.

This book helps the reader understand the wisdom of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and its purpose to help the dying soul to dis-identify from the worldly attachments and find liberation from within.

By Sogyal Rinpoche,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Explains the Tibetan understanding of what happens when a person dies, and how this can help in a person's daily life, in caring for the terminally ill and the bereaved, and to deepen one's understanding of life.

Japanese Children's Favorite Stories

By Florence Sakade, Yoshisuke Kurosaki (illustrator),

Book cover of Japanese Children's Favorite Stories

Sanae Ishida Author Of Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl

From the list on Japan.

Who am I?

My parents were both born and raised in Japan but met in New York and eventually settled in Los Angeles, where I grew up. My first language was Japanese and as a nisei (second generation), I am deeply steeped in my Asian heritage. I am continually inspired by the art and storytelling that originates from Japanese culture and love to incorporate them into my own work.

Sanae's book list on Japan

Why did Sanae love this book?

As a little kid, I read the Japanese version of these stories and I was delighted when I found the English version to read to my then tiny daughter. “Momo-Taro,” or Peach Boy, is one of my favorite tales from childhood and there are so many others included in the book that I had forgotten about. These classic stories are a wonderful addition to any library!

By Florence Sakade, Yoshisuke Kurosaki (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Japanese Children's Favorite Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This colorfully illustrated multicultural children's book presents Japanese fairy tales and other folk stories--providing insight into a vibrant literary culture.

For 60 years, generations of English-speaking children around the world have been enchanted by Japanese Children's Favorite Stories--and for good reason. With such titles as "The Toothpick Warriors" and "The Rabbit Who Crossed the Sea," these 20 stories offer age-old lessons in kindness and goodness that are still riveting to children and parents alike. This 60th Anniversary Tuttle edition is proof that good stories never wear out.

In this treasure trove of much-beloved Japanese children's stories, you'll meet charming characters…

The Way, My Way

By Bill Bennett,

Book cover of The Way, My Way

Sanjiva Wijesinha Author Of Strangers on the Camino: Father, Son - and Holy Trail

From the list on the Camino de Santiago from someone who walked it.

Who am I?

The pilgrim’s journey to the ancient Catholic shrine at Santiago de Compostela had fascinated me ever since I first read about it. For centuries, pilgrims had made this arduous journey, the majority of them on foot, along a trail in northern Spain that stretched for over five hundred miles. Many had written of the transformation they underwent as a result of making this journey. Even though I am not a Catholic, I decided to undertake the journey myself in 2011 in the company of my son – and then decided to write about what I had experienced and learned as a result of my journey. Having written my book I became interested in learning what others who had done this journey had to say about the Camino. What was their experience, what perspective did they offer, were they also changed (as I was) by undertaking this “pilgrimage”?

Sanjiva's book list on the Camino de Santiago from someone who walked it

Why did Sanjiva love this book?

Bill Bennett’s book is written in a typically frank, down-to-earth Aussie manner – yet the author manages to combine humour with humility. He writes with an engaging yet self-deprecating style about his thoughts and emotions, the entertaining characters, and unusual situations he encountered along the journey - as well as the highs and lows of his journey. These are all described without reservation, giving the reader an insight into not only his journey but also his own personal struggles.

By Bill Bennett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“I’d never done anything crazy like this before – a pilgrimage walk. I was not a hiker, and I wasn’t a Catholic. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I was a Christian. On the last government census when I had to state my religion, I'd said I was a Buddhist, mainly because they’ve had such a hard time in Tibet and I felt they needed my statistical support. I was also not an adventure traveller. For me, adventure travel was flying coach. All this backpacking and wearing of heavy boots and flying off to France to walk ancient pilgrimage routes…

Live to See Tomorrow

By Iris Johansen,

Book cover of Live to See Tomorrow

Angela Greenman Author Of The Child Riddler

From the list on women of courage and strength.

Who am I?

I am a writer and an internationally recognized communications expert who grew up poor, homeless, and oppressed by fear and violence. I am a woman who crashed through the glass ceiling and had an exciting career with the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency where I became a leader on the international stage. During my troubled times growing up, I fantasized about being an elite operative who got the bad guys and traveled the world. That’s why I wrote about one. I know how hard it is to be a strong woman. That’s why I celebrate them. 

Angela's book list on women of courage and strength

Why did Angela love this book?

Catherine Ling, the main character, is a CIA operative. Her strength and smarts enabled her to survive the streets of Hong Kong as a child until she was brought into the CIA at age fourteen. On top of having a woman as the main character who is tough and skilled—which I love—Iris Johansen weaves an exciting story of how Catherine must rescue an imprisoned woman journalist in Tibet. Two strong and brave women, exotic locations, and suspense that won’t quit…do I need to say more?

By Iris Johansen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Live to See Tomorrow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author Irs Johansen comes Live to See Tomorrow, a thriller featuring CIA agent Catherine Ling

Catherine Ling is one of the CIA's most prized operatives. Raised on the unforgiving streets of Hong Kong, she was pulled into the agency at the age of fourteen, already having accumulated more insight and secrets than the most seasoned professionals in her world. If life has taught her anything, it is not to get attached, but there are two exceptions to that rule: her son Luke and her mentor Hu Chang.

When Luke was kidnapped at the…

Prisoners of Shangri-La

By Donald S. Lopez Jr,

Book cover of Prisoners of Shangri-La: Tibetan Buddhism and the West

Laurence Cox Author Of The Irish Buddhist: The Forgotten Monk Who Faced Down the British Empire

From the list on Buddhism and the West.

Who am I?

I’ve been a street musician, set up kindergartens, worked in special needs education, and run wood-fired showers in a field for meditation retreats. I’m also associate professor of sociology at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. I became a Buddhist partly out of interest in a very different culture and started wondering how Buddhism got from Asia to the West. I think about this through my own experience of teaching meditation, being an activist for 35 years, living in five countries, and learning ten languages: what do you have to do to make an idea come alive in a different culture? 

Laurence's book list on Buddhism and the West

Why did Laurence love this book?

When my grandparents died they left small presents for their grandchildren, and in a way that many Buddhists would recognise I bought a book about Buddhism – a funny and sad one. Lopez’s book tells the story of how Western fantasies talk over actual Tibetans and their struggles, from what we think we know about the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” to Lobsang Rampa’s spurious The Third Eye, passing through how we talk about Tibetan art and what we say about the mantra “Om mani padme hum”. This is a deeply humane book about how Tibetans are trapped not only by superpower politics and colonialism but also by how they are represented to the West. 

By Donald S. Lopez Jr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Prisoners of Shangri-La as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To the Western imagination, Tibet evokes exoticism, mysticism, and wonder: a fabled land removed from the grinding onslaught of modernity, spiritually endowed with all that the West has lost. Originally published in 1998, Prisoners of Shangri-La provided the first cultural history of the strange encounter between Tibetan Buddhism and the West. Donald Lopez reveals here fanciful misconceptions of Tibetan life and religion. He examines, among much else, the politics of the term "Lamaism," a pejorative synonym for Tibetan Buddhism; the various theosophical, psychedelic, and New Age purposes served by the so-called Tibetan Book of the Dead; and the unexpected history…

Tibet in Agony

By Jianglin Li, Susan Wilf (translator),

Book cover of Tibet in Agony: Lhasa 1959

Andrew G. Walder Author Of China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed

From the list on China from Mao through Tiananmen.

Who am I?

I took my first course about Chinese politics in 1973, when the country was still in the tumultuous last years of the Mao era. In a teaching career that began in 1982, I have spent long periods of research and teaching in China and Hong Kong. China’s shifting course has been a constant source of fascination, encouragement, and at times dismay. It is hard to imagine that the impoverished and unstable country of the 1970s would rise to become such a major economic power, one that despite its impressive expansion still faces intractable barriers to its future advancement.

Andrew's book list on China from Mao through Tiananmen

Why did Andrew love this book?

For years, the Dalai Lama was courted by Beijing in efforts to incorporate Tibet into the new Chinese Communist State. Drawing on official Chinese documents and memoirs and interviews with Tibetan emigres, Li pulls together a dramatic account of the maneuverings, miscalculations, and events during a critical period that culminated in an uprising in Lhasa that was violently crushed by the People’ Liberation Army, leading to the dramatic flight of the Dalai Lama to India. The account provides fresh new light on a dramatic failure of Chinese policy whose consequences are felt to the present day.

By Jianglin Li, Susan Wilf (translator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Chinese Communist government has twice invoked large-scale military might to crush popular uprisings in capital cities. The second incident-the notorious massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989-is well known. The first, thirty years earlier in Tibet, remains little understood today. Yet in wages of destruction, bloodshed, and trampling of human rights, the tragic toll of March 1959 surpassed Tiananmen.

Tibet in Agony provides the first clear historical account of the Chinese crackdown in Lhasa. Sifting facts from the distortions of propaganda and partisan politics, Jianglin Li reconstructs a chronology of events that lays to rest lingering questions about what happened…

Behind the Wall

By Colin Thubron,

Book cover of Behind the Wall: A Journey Through China

Charlie Walker Author Of Through Sand & Snow: a man, a bicycle, and a 43,000-mile journey to adulthood via the ends of the Earth

From the list on solo adventure.

Who am I?

I started solo travelling as soon as I left school, and since then I’ve spent many years doing so. I came of age while cycling, kayaking, hiking and skiing across distant lands. The bittersweetness of being alone on the road has become a source of constant fascination for me. The on-again-off-again loneliness creates a state of mind where you’re that much more willing to throw yourself in at the deep end, to meet strangers, and to look, listen and learn. At its very best, solo travel writing seamlessly encompasses two journeys: the physical journey in a foreign land, and the psychological journey within the author.

Charlie's book list on solo adventure

Why did Charlie love this book?

I must have read dozens of books on China but Colin Thubron’s elegiac account comfortably takes the crown. Behind the Wall captures a unique moment in China’s history when foreigners were first allowed to travel around the country but the nation was yet to be influenced by the outside world. Having learnt to speak Mandarin in advance of travelling, the author probes deep into the rural areas and distant desert outposts of a closed communist empire still recovering from the ravages of the Cultural Revolution.

By Colin Thubron,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A powerful unforgettable journey through China with one of our greatest travel writers.

'An achievement of great and lasting brilliance' Patrick Leigh Fermor

Having learned Mandarin, and travelling alone by foot, bicycle and train, Colin Thubron set off on a 10,000 mile journey from Beijing to the borders of Burma. He travelled through the wind-swept wastes of the Gobi desert and finished at the far end of the Great Wall.

What Thubron reveals is an astonishing diversity, a land whose still unmeasured resources strain to meet an awesome demand, and an ancient people still reeling from the devastation of the…

The Life of Milarepa

By Lobsang P. Lhalungpa, Unknown,

Book cover of The Life of Milarepa: A New Translation from the Tibetan

Lorne Ladner Author Of The Lost Art of Compassion: Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology

From the list on biographies within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Who am I?

I'm a clinical psychologist who also writes about and teaches Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and meditation. I've had the great good fortune to be closely mentored by a number of elder Tibetan teachers who were educated in old Tibet.  Over the decades, when seeking wisdom and compassion in the midst of life's challenges, I've repeatedly found inspiration, education, solace, and guidance along my own path in the enlightened and enlightening life stories of a number of the great scholar/yogis of the Himalayan Buddhist traditions. 

Lorne's book list on biographies within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition

Why did Lorne love this book?

For me personally, this book changed my life more than any other, opening me up to the inspiring possibility that a deeply imperfect person could become enlightened through sincere and mighty efforts. This work is one of the world's great stories. The name Milarepa has inspired people for a millenium throughout Central Asia, being almost synonymous with being a yogi and with redemption through heartfelt efforts. It includes Milarepa's life story and some of the many poems which he spontaneously composed to educate and enlighten others as he wandered through the Himalayas.

By Lobsang P. Lhalungpa, Unknown,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Life of Milarepa is the most beloved story of the Tibetan people amd one of the greatest source books for the contemplative life in all world literature. This biography, a true folk tale from a culture now in crisis, can be read on several levels: a personal and moving introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, it is also a profoundly detailed guidebook in the search for consciousness. It presents the quest for spiritual perfection, tracing the path of a great sinner who became a great saint. But it is also a powerful and graphic folk tale, full of magic, disaster, feuds,…