Best books on Buddhism, according to my readers

Online I have various lists of best selling books on Buddhism. This list is different: it’s a list of the books people who visit those pages suggest. That makes this list a lot more eclectic. Lists like this often turn commercial fast, because publishers and authors want THEIR book on the list. However, I don’t think this list is like that. These are books my readers have genuinely recommended.

I do hope you enjoy. It’s an eclectic mix with books from all the main traditions: Theravada, Zen (through Thich Nhat Hanh), Tibetan Buddhism and modern western interpretations and translations.

I hope you enjoy these best Buddhist Books – and of course, do add your own favorites and classics as well!

What the Buddha Taught, Walpola RahulaThis book is a classic, not merely because it contains (literally) what he Buddha taught, as saved in the Pali Canon. It’s also translated and compiled by Walpola Rahula who was a Buddhist monk and scholar. He’s recognised as such, not merely by his co-religionists, but also by specialists in Buddhism without his Theravada background.

Rahula gives a full account of his fundamental teachings, from the Buddhist attitude of mind and meditation to the Buddha’s teaching in the contemporary world. The text also features a selection of texts from original Buddhist literature.

Buddhism For Dummies, by Jonathan LandawThe for Dummies Series hardly needs an introduction. As usual they hired a recognised expert and as usual they packaged what he had to say in an easy to digest format.

Your hands-on guide to this widely practiced and ancient religion
Buddhism, one of the world’s most widely practiced religions, is a fascinating yet complex eastern religion that is rapidly spreading throughout western civilization. What does it mean to be a Buddhist? What are the fundamental beliefs and history behind this religion? Buddhism For Dummies explores these questions and more in this updated guide to Buddhist culture. You’ll gain an understanding of the origins of this ancient practice and how they’re currently applied to everyday life.

Whether you’re a searcher of truth, a student of religions, or just curious about what makes Buddhism such a widely practiced religion, this guide is for you. In plain English, it defines the important terms, explains the key concepts, and explores in-depth a wide range of fascinating topics.

New and expanded coverage on all the schools of Buddhism, including Theravada, Tibetan, and Mahayana
The continuing relevance of the Dalai Lama
Updated coverage on daily observances, celebrations, styles, practices, meditation, and more
Continuing the Dummies tradition of making the world’s religions engaging and accessible to everyone, Buddhism For Dummies is your essential guide to this fascinating religion.

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living, H.H. the Dalai LamaAn updated edition of a beloved classic, the original book on happiness, with new material from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard Cutler.

Nearly every time you see him, he’s laughing, or at least smiling. And he makes everyone else around him feel like smiling. He’s the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, a Nobel Prize winner, and a hugely sought-after speaker and statesman. Why is he so popular? Even after spending only a few minutes in his presence you can’t help feeling happier.

If you ask him if he’s happy, even though he’s suffered the loss of his country, the Dalai Lama will give you an unconditional yes. What’s more, he’ll tell you that happiness is the purpose of life, and that the very motion of our life is toward happiness. How to get there has always been the question. He’s tried to answer it before, but he’s never had the help of a psychiatrist to get the message across in a context we can easily understand.

The Art of Happiness is the book that started the genre of happiness books, and it remains the cornerstone of the field of positive psychology.

Through conversations, stories, and meditations, the Dalai Lama shows us how to defeat day-to-day anxiety, insecurity, anger, and discouragement. Together with Dr. Howard Cutler, he explores many facets of everyday life, including relationships, loss, and the pursuit of wealth, to illustrate how to ride through life’s obstacles on a deep and abiding source of inner peace. Based on 2,500 years of Buddhist meditations mixed with a healthy dose of common sense, The Art of Happiness is a book that crosses the boundaries of traditions to help readers with difficulties common to all human beings. After being in print for ten years, this book has touched countless lives and uplifted spirits around the world.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buddhism, by Gary GachReach Your Zen Moment!

The latest edition of The Complete Idiot’s Guide(r) to Buddhism updates one of Alpha Books’s most successful books in the religion/spirituality category, providing extensive information on both understanding the teachings and schools of Buddhism and incorporating the tenets of Buddhism into everyday life. It also includes additional information on Buddhism’s effect on popular arts and sciences, the continuing relevance of the Dalai Lama, and an annotated bibliography.

• With Buddhism as one of America’s fastest growing religions, the audience continues to renew itself
• Covers all four schools of Buddhism: Zen, Tibetan, Pure Land, and Insight Meditation, which are not in competitors’ books
• For thousands of years, Buddhism has been a source of inner peace and security for millions

True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart, Thich Nhat HanhLove might not be what we think it is. We all seek the happiness that comes from loving and being loved, yet we often find ourselves dissatisfied in our relationships and unable to grasp the cause. Thich Nhat Hanh here shows the way to overcome our recurrent obstacles to love—by learning to be mindful, open, and present with ourselves and others. As he explains, “training is needed in order to love properly; and to be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice deep looking directed toward the person you love. Because if you do not understand this person, you cannot love properly. Understanding is the essence of love.”

This quintessential guide to loving also introduces the four key aspects of love described in the Buddhist tradition—loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and freedom—and describes many simple and direct ways in which we can practice authentic love in our everyday lives.

Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be: Lessons on Change, Loss, and Spiritual Transformation, by Lama Surya DasThe beloved American Lama, a spiritual leader whose inimitable light and
lively universal teaching style has awakened the spirituality of thousands, now shares an enlightened approach to change and loss, dealing with difficult emotions such as fear, grief, and anger, and the role of crisis in uncovering our authentic selves.

For many people, recent years have been characterized by profound change, whether it relates to financial upheaval, political shifts, or even massive losses of life to disease and violence. Even on the personal level each person must confront the curves life throws his or her way. Buddhism has a great deal to say about change and impermanence and how to meaningfully deal with it. Change–whether on a large or small scale–provides our most important opportunity for learning about ourselves and the nature of reality. From this essential insight Lama Surya Das has crafted a fulfilling and important path to understanding and healing ourselves and finding peace.

Full of personal stories, anecdotes, practical exercises, guided meditations and reflections, and pithy original aphorisms, Letting Go of the Person You Used to Be addresses life’s most universal difficulties in a way that is accessible to all. By using memorable concepts such as The Virtues of Adversity, The Pearl Principle (“No inner irritation, no pearl”), and Gaining through Loss, Surya reminds readers that hiding from change and loss is futile. Learning to consciously accept and embrace change leads to a better understanding of ourselves and our own innate divine light.

andrea-willson-life-buddha-10-thousand-days Ten Thousand Days of Summer: The Story of the Boy Who Would be Buddha, Andrea Willson“In her wonderful little book Andrea Willson has brought this tale into the modern, international arena, re-telling it with the magic and wonder that has captivated audiences over the centuries. It is a great read, a profound wave of joyful literary indulgence, and a magnificent contribution to the growing corpus of literature on the Buddha, his life, and his vision of human perfection. Andrea is a talented storyteller…The illustrations by the master artist Andy Weber add to the flavor of the narrative. The blending of words and images draw the reader into an intimacy of experience equal to the impact of the illuminated texts that were so popular in bygone eras, when people took time to create books that were not only literarily uplifting, but were also a feast for the aesthetic eye.” Glenn Mullin.

Andrea (or Ondy) Wilson is a teacher of mine in the FPMT.

Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha, by Thich Nhat HanhDrawn from original sources, Old Path White Clouds is the beautiful classic recounting of the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha over the course of eighty years. It is retold alternately through the eyes of Svasti, the buffalo boy who provided kusa grass for the Buddha’s enlightenment cushion, and the Buddha himself.
  The Major Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, Volume One
Is one of the books of Nichiren Daishonin’ who was a Japanese monk in the 13th Century. Accordingly, this books is along the lines of Nichiren Buddhism.
Dhammapada (Oxford World’s Classics)The Dhammapada, the Pali version of one of the most popular texts of the Buddhist canon, ranks among the classics of the world’s great religious literature.
Like all religious texts in Pali, the Dhammapada belongs to the Therevâda school of the Buddhist tradition, adherents of which are now found primarily in Kampuchea, Laos, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Dhammapada, or “sayings of the dhamma,” is taken to be a collection of the utterances of the Buddha himself. Taken together, the verses form a key body of teaching within Buddhism, a guiding voice along the struggle-laden path towards true enlightenment, or Nirvana. However, the appeal of these epithets of wisdom extends beyond its religious heritage to a general and universal spirituality.
This edition provides an introduction and notes which examine the impact that the text has had within the Buddhist heritage through the centuries.

About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.