10 Buddhist Books Everyone Should Read

10 Buddhist books everyone should have, as selected by the editors of Lion’s Roar.

Lion’s Roar Staff25 October 2021
Kornfield

After the Ecstasy, the Laundry
by Jack Kornfield
(Bantam, 2000)

According to Jack Kornfield, enlightenment does exist and is even pretty common. The rub is that after achieving it, day-to-day tasks and troubles still await you. This is a guide to translating our spiritual awakenings into our imperfect lives.

Rod'sbook


A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
by Rod Meade Sperry and the editors of Lion’s Roar
(Shambhala, 2014)
Advice and inspiration from Buddhism’s most renowned teachers, including many Lion’s Roar readers’ favorites like Pema Chödrön, Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, Norman Fischer, Judy Lief, and many more.

Being-PeaceScan

Being Peace
by Thich Nhat Hanh
(Parallax, 1987)
Addresses both personal awakening and engaging compassionately in the world. Using anecdotes from his own life, as well as poems and fables, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches his key practices for dwelling in the present moment.

Cutting-Through-Spiritual-Materialism

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
by Chögyam Trungpa
(Shambhala, 1973)

Based on the highest view of the Vajrayana school, it defines basic principles not only of Buddhism but of spiritual practice altogether. Always contemporary and relevant, a profound influence on how Buddhism is understood today.

Boorstein-Hi

Happiness Is an Inside Job
by Sylvia Boorstein
(Ballantine, 2007)

With her characteristic warmth, Sylvia Boorstein teaches how practicing right mindfulness, concentration, and effort leads us away from anger, anxiety, and confusion and into calmness, clarity, and joy.

Gunaratna

Mindfulness in Plain English
by Bhante Gunaratana
(Wisdom, 1992)
Perfect for anyone interested in mindfulness, Buddhist or not. This classic of the Theravada tradition explains what mindfulness is and isn’t, how to practice it, and how to work with distractions and other obstacles.

Real-Happiness-9780761159254

Real Happiness
by Sharon Salzberg
(Workman, 2010)
Using almost no Buddhist-specific terms, this helpful little book nonetheless hits all the right notes when it comes to how to do basic meditation and related practices that can help us cultivate more kindness, connection, and contentment in our everyday lives.

What-Makes-You-Not-a-Buddhist

What Makes You Not a Buddhist
by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse
(Shambhala, 2008)

A precise delineation of the key tenets that define Buddhism, versus what is superfluous, merely cultural, or not Buddhist at all. A good book to read if you’re deciding whether or not you’re a Buddhist, or just want to know what Buddhism really is.

When-Things-Fall-Apart

When Things Fall Apart
by Pema Chödrön
(Shambhala, 1997)
If you’re facing a challenging time in life, this is the book you want. It shows how to develop loving-kindness toward yourself and then cultivate a fearlessly compassionate attitude toward your own pain and that of others.

Zen-Mind,-Beginner's-Mind

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
by Shunryu Suzuki
(Weatherhill, 1973; fortieth anniversary edition, 2013, Shambhala)
Though covering Zen basics like zazen posture, bowing, intention, and so on, Suzuki Roshi’s masterwork is hardly just for Zen people—or just for beginners, for that matter. It skillfully introduces important Buddhist concepts like non-attachment, emptiness, and enlightenment.

Lion s Roar Staff

Lion’s Roar Staff

Lion’s Roar is the website of Lion’s Roar magazine (formerly the Shambhala Sun) and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, with exclusive Buddhist news, teachings, art, and commentary. Sign up for the Lion’s Roar weekly newsletter and follow Lion’s Roar on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.