The best 27 Buddhism books

Buddhism is a spiritual tradition that has inspired millions of people worldwide for centuries. Its teachings provide guidance on mindfulness, compassion, and personal growth. Our carefully selected book list is designed to help you delve into the rich world of Buddhist wisdom.

These books cover diverse aspects of Buddhism, offering insights and practices to help you nurture inner peace and cultivate a more mindful life. So, why not embark on this enlightening journey and discover the transformative power of Buddhist teachings?
The best 27 Buddhism books
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1
Buddhism Books: The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James

The Varieties of Religious Experience

William James
A Study in Human Nature
4.0 (51 ratings)
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What's The Varieties of Religious Experience about?

Based on a series of lectures given by William James between 1901 and 1902, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) is an in-depth exploration of how we experience religion and how a personal approach to religion can be profoundly useful to us.

Who should read The Varieties of Religious Experience?

  • People interested in psychology
  • Students of philosophy and religion

2
Buddhism Books: Buddhism – Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen

Buddhism – Plain and Simple

Steve Hagen
The Practice of Being Aware, Right Now, Every Day
4.4 (426 ratings)
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What's Buddhism – Plain and Simple about?

Buddhism Plain and Simple (2013) is your no-nonsense guide to essential Buddhist practices. From building awareness to living in the present moment, Buddhism’s most important teachings are explained in a clear and accessible way, and are linked to aspects of everyday life where we need them the most.

Who should read Buddhism – Plain and Simple?

  • Spirituality enthusiasts seeking a deeper understanding of human existence
  • Professionals who feel too busy to live in the moment
  • Anyone who wants to stop living in ignorance of basic Buddhist truths

3
Buddhism Books: The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

The Book of Joy

Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
Lasting Happiness in a Changing World
4.6 (331 ratings)
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What's The Book of Joy about?

The Book of Joy (2016) is an insightful guide to living a life free of sadness, stress and suffering. These blinks are full of actionable ways to cultivate joy for yourself and others while overcoming the obstacles that so often prevent people from finding happiness on earth.

Who should read The Book of Joy?

  • People who are feeling down on life
  • Those who struggle to cultivate meaningful relationships
  • Anyone interested in Buddhist teachings

4
Buddhism Books: Thoughts Without a Thinker by Mark Epstein

Thoughts Without a Thinker

Mark Epstein
Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective
4.4 (136 ratings)
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What's Thoughts Without a Thinker about?

Thoughts Without a Thinker (1995) describes the fundamental principles of the Buddhist tradition through a psychoanalytic lens. These blinks explain how meditation and mindfulness can soothe the mind, alleviate suffering and heal mental illness.

Who should read Thoughts Without a Thinker?

  • People who suffer from depression and anxiety
  • Anyone interested in Buddhism or psychotherapy
  • Anyone skeptical about mindfulness

5
Buddhism Books: The Wisdom of Life by Arthur Schopenhauer

The Wisdom of Life

Arthur Schopenhauer
4.4 (294 ratings)
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What's The Wisdom of Life about?

Schopenhauer’s The Wisdom of Life (1851) is a short philosophical essay about what constitutes human happiness. Starting with ancient Greek philosophers’ ideas on human happiness, Schopenhauer develops his own thoughts on what people need to be happy.

Who should read The Wisdom of Life?

  • Academic and armchair philosophers
  • Anyone striving for happiness and wisdom
  • Lovers of nineteenth-century German philosophy

6
Buddhism Books: The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

Robin Sharma
A guide to using ancient practices to improve your quality of life and achieve your goals
4.5 (820 ratings)
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What's The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari about?

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari (1997) offers a remedy to the problems of modern life. A fable, it tells the story of the enlightenment of ex-lawyer Julian Mantle and gives advice on how to live a happier, more rewarding and enlightened existence.

Who should read The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari?

  • Fans of self-help books
  • People interested in Eastern mysticism
  • Workaholics

7
Buddhism Books: The Distraction Addiction by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

The Distraction Addiction

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
Getting the Information You Need and the Communication You Want, Without Enraging Your Family, Annoying Your Colleagues and Destroying Your Soul.
4.0 (122 ratings)
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What's The Distraction Addiction about?

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang’s The Distraction Addiction (2013) takes a look at attention in today’s distraction-riddled society and asks how we can stay connected and productive. Drawing on fascinating new research by neuroscientists and psychologists, as well as traditional Buddhist thought, Pang offers hands-on advice on how to stay focused and overcome our internet addictions in a new digital age.

Who should read The Distraction Addiction?

  • Parents with internet-addicted children
  • Anyone who feels they couldn’t do without the internet for a day
  • The seriously distracted looking for tips to boost their attention

8
Buddhism Books: Ikigai by Hector Garcia Puigcerver and Francesc Miralles

Ikigai

Hector Garcia Puigcerver and Francesc Miralles
The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life
4.6 (1,315 ratings)
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What's Ikigai about?

Ikigai (2016) is your guide to living a long, happy life through the wisdom of Japanese culture. These blinks delve into every area of Japanese life to uncover their secrets of longevity and to explain why so many Japanese, especially those on one island in particular, live well past 100 years of age.

Who should read Ikigai?

  • Japanese cultural enthusiasts
  • Those wishing to live to a hundred
  • Seekers of happiness

9
Buddhism Books: The Fear Factor by Abigail Marsh

The Fear Factor

Abigail Marsh
How One Emotion Connects Altruists, Psychopaths and Everyone in Between
4.1 (65 ratings)
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What's The Fear Factor about?

The Fear Factor (2017) examines the multifaceted role that fear plays in our lives. Though commonly perceived as a purely negative emotion, fear is in fact linked to several virtuous human characteristics, such as empathy and altruism.

Who should read The Fear Factor?

  • People who want to become more altruistic
  • Those interested in neurology and how it affects certain behaviors
  • Individuals who want to turn their fears into something useful

10
Buddhism Books: How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh

How to Love

Thich Nhat Hanh
4.4 (371 ratings)
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What's How to Love about?

How to Love (2015) is an indispensable collection of teachings on the subject of love from the world-renowned Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh. Packed full of wisdom and insight, this aphoristic handbook unlocks the mysteries of true love in its exploration of what it means to love ourselves, our partners and the world itself.

Who should read How to Love?

  • Star-crossed lovers
  • Singles looking for their Mr – or Ms – Darcy
  • Anyone searching for mindful answers to the conundrums of love

11
Buddhism Books: Life’s Amazing Secrets by Gaur Gopal Das

Life’s Amazing Secrets

Gaur Gopal Das
How to Find Balance and Purpose in Your Life
4.5 (254 ratings)
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What's Life’s Amazing Secrets about?

Packed full of practical wisdom, Life’s Amazing Secrets (2018) begins with a clarifying premise: to experience happiness and balance, we must maintain a spiritual practice, as well as pay attention to our personal lives, our relationships, our work and our social contributions. How to do that is what these blinks are all about. 

Who should read Life’s Amazing Secrets?

  • People seeking purpose in life
  • Successful individuals who aren’t content
  • Seekers striving to realize their potential

12
Buddhism Books: The Way of Zen by Alan W. Watts

The Way of Zen

Alan W. Watts
4.5 (718 ratings)
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What's The Way of Zen about?

The Way of Zen (1957) is a classic work that lays out the historical origins and core principles of Zen Buddhism. Our world is changing at breakneck speed, and it often seems that the old rules cease to apply as soon as we’ve gotten used to them. The Eastern philosophy of Zen can help us find the mental stillness and the joy in uncertainty we desperately need.

Who should read The Way of Zen?

  • Newcomers to Eastern philosophy and history
  • Those who want to challenge their minds to see the world differently
  • Fans of Alan Watts

13
Buddhism Books: On Having No Head by Douglas Harding

On Having No Head

Douglas Harding
Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious
3.9 (177 ratings)
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What's On Having No Head about?

On Having No Head (1961) is a one-of-a-kind classic of philosophy, spirituality, and mysticism. Combining empirical observations, mystical experiences, logical arguments, personal introspection, practical exercises, Zen Buddhism, and other Eastern spiritual traditions, its aim is to smash through the dualisms that lie beneath much of Western thought: subject and object, mind and body, self and non-self, internal and external world. In their place, the author contends that we can see ourselves and the world around us in a radically different way.

Who should read On Having No Head?

  • Students of Western and Eastern philosophy 
  • People wanting to understand the nature of consciousness 
  • Anyone interested in Zen Buddhism

14
Buddhism Books: The Quiet Mind by John E. Coleman

The Quiet Mind

John E. Coleman
3.9 (192 ratings)
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What's The Quiet Mind about?

The Quiet Mind (1971) is the firsthand account of an American intelligence agent who traveled the Eastern world in search of inner peace. Throughout his remarkable life, author John. E. Coleman explored a wide breadth of spiritual paths, from Thai Buddhism to Zen to Quakerism. Ultimately, he found the greatest success with vipassana, a type of meditation he later imparted to his own students.

Who should read The Quiet Mind?

  • The spiritually open-minded
  • Those looking to understand the differences among several Eastern philosophies
  • Admirers of D. T. Suzuki, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and U Ba Khin

15
Buddhism Books: The Power of Ritual by Casper ter Kuile

The Power of Ritual

Casper ter Kuile
Turning Everyday Activities into Soulful Practices
4.4 (136 ratings)
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What's The Power of Ritual about?

The Power of Ritual (2020) is a guide to finding spiritual fulfillment, and even transcendence, in a secular life. Divinity scholar Casper ter Kuile convincingly argues that it’s possible to turn away from institutionalized religion while still preserving the sacred practices that build community, give space for reflection, and welcome in joy.

Who should read The Power of Ritual?

  • Atheists and agnostics who want to reclaim their spiritual side;
  • Believers and ex-believers who’ve been disappointed by their religious institutions;
  • Anyone who feels isolated and disconnected from the world around them.

16
Buddhism Books: Lovingkindness by Sharon Salzberg

Lovingkindness

Sharon Salzberg
The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
4.8 (432 ratings)
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What's Lovingkindness about?

Lovingkindness (1995) is a gentle guide to uncovering the profound meanings of love and happiness. With psychological insights and actionable meditations, it shows us how the Buddhist path to pursuing a liberated heart can help each of us tap into our inner radiant joy – allowing us to be kinder to ourselves and to others. 

Who should read Lovingkindness?

  • People who want to be kinder to themselves and others
  • Stressed individuals seeking to cultivate inner peace
  • Curious minds interested in exploring the tenets of Buddhism

17
Buddhism Books: Falling into Grace by Adyashanti

Falling into Grace

Adyashanti
Insights on the End of Suffering
4.3 (50 ratings)
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What's Falling into Grace about?

Falling into Grace (2011) explores why humans suffer and shares the ways in which it is possible to let go of existential struggle. Using profound spiritual insights, it shows that the way we mentally interpret the world lies at the root of most human problems, and that another way of viewing the world is possible – one that is rich and free of suffering. 

Who should read Falling into Grace?

  • Seekers hoping for spiritual growth
  • People interested in Buddhist philosophies
  • Those who want to overcome suffering in their lives

18
Buddhism Books: Sovereign Self by Acharya Shunya

Sovereign Self

Acharya Shunya
Claim Your Inner Joy and Freedom with the Empowering Wisdom of the Vedas, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita
4.7 (427 ratings)
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What's Sovereign Self about?

Sovereign Self (2020) explores the Vedas. Revealed over 5,000 years ago, these texts are a cornerstone of Hinduism, Buddhism, and countless other religious traditions in the Indian subcontinent. Packed with spiritual insights, the Vedas revolve around a single central question: How to live in accordance with the true nature of reality? As you’ll discover in these blinks, the answer begins by discovering your own, true self. 

Who should read Sovereign Self?

  • Spiritual seekers
  • Open-minded atheists 
  • Self-improvers looking for new ideas

19
Buddhism Books: The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching

Thich Nhat Hanh
Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy and Liberation
4.6 (388 ratings)
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What's The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching about?

The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching (1998) explains core Buddhist teachings, including the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. It shows how to apply these practices to daily life to transform suffering into joy and heal the pain of others.

Who should read The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching?

  • People who are suffering
  • Those wishing to adopt Buddhist practices
  • Anyone who wishes to lead a more joyful life

20
Buddhism Books: The Art of Living by William Hart

The Art of Living

William Hart
Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S. N. Goenka
4.7 (399 ratings)
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What's The Art of Living about?

The Art of Living (1987) details the Vipassanā meditation principles set out by the famed Burmese-Indian teacher S. N. Goenka. As well as describing the techniques of Vipassanā meditation, it delves into the deeper philosophy of Buddhism.

Who should read The Art of Living?

  • Anyone interested in meditation
  • Those seeking relief from anxiety, stress, and suffering
  • People curious about Buddhist thinking

21
Buddhism Books: Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh

Living Buddha, Living Christ

Thich Nhat Hanh
Explore the common ground of Christianity and Buddhism
4.2 (265 ratings)
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What's Living Buddha, Living Christ about?

Living Buddha, Living Christ (1995) is a meditation on the surprising intersections between Buddhism and Christianity. This thoughtful text shows the common ground shared by two of the world’s most influential spiritual leaders.

Who should read Living Buddha, Living Christ?

  • Christians seeking a new perspective on Christ
  • Buddhists looking to enrich their practice
  • Anyone wanting to cultivate a deeper spiritual life

22
Buddhism Books: Bittersweet by Susan Cain

Bittersweet

Susan Cain
How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole
4.7 (338 ratings)
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What's Bittersweet about?

Bittersweet (2022) is a profound meditation on an often overlooked emotional experience – the bittersweet. It argues that opening up to the bittersweet, where pain and joy mingle, allows us to experience life to the fullest. It also shows how vulnerability can be a strength, longing can be a guide, and sorrow can set us on the path to joy and fulfillment. 

Who should read Bittersweet?

  • Anyone who finds pleasure in sad songs and tear-jerker movies
  • People who’ve experienced loss or trauma and want to find a way back to joy
  • Lovers of the ephemeral, the impermanent, and the fleeting

23
Buddhism Books: The Dharma in DNA by Dee Denver

The Dharma in DNA

Dee Denver
Insights at the Intersection of Biology and Buddhism
4.2 (290 ratings)
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What's The Dharma in DNA about?

The Dharma in DNA (2022) explores the intersections between Buddhist philosophy and biology. At first glance, these two traditions couldn’t be more different. One is spiritual; the other empirical. But there are overlaps. Both traditions are attempts to discover meaning, for one. But there’s more to it than that: both the teachings of the Buddha and the findings of biologists appear to converge on a similar understanding of what it means to be human.

Who should read The Dharma in DNA?

  • Open-minded rationalists and skeptics
  • Thinkers who love big ideas
  • Spiritualists interested in science

24
Buddhism Books: Lighter by Yung Pueblo

Lighter

Yung Pueblo
Let Go of the Past, Connect with the Present, and Expand the Future
4.6 (513 ratings)
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What's Lighter about?

Lighter (2022) guides anyone seeking self-improvement through the process of releasing the past and taking power over the future. It’s a combination of wisdom and proverbs as well as a practical guide for doing the inner work of self-healing.

Who should read Lighter?

  • Self-improvement seekers
  • Buddhism buffs
  • Anyone who needs to heal from the past

25
Buddhism Books: The Earned Life by Marshall Goldsmith

The Earned Life

Marshall Goldsmith
Lose Regret, Choose Fulfillment
4.4 (473 ratings)
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What's The Earned Life about?

The Earned Life (2022) poses a simple yet profound question: Why does a life of constant achievement often leave us feeling empty? The answer can be found in ancient Buddhist wisdom: it’s not meeting ambitious goals but rather working on meaningful goals that really brings fulfillment and happiness. 

Who should read The Earned Life?

  • High achievers who feel like something’s missing 
  • Anyone interested in personal improvement 
  • Secular-minded folks interested in spirituality

26
Buddhism Books: The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

The Book of Five Rings

Miyamoto Musashi
A Classic Text on the Japanese Way of the Sword
4.6 (403 ratings)
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What's The Book of Five Rings about?

The Book of Five Rings (1643) is one of the most insightful texts to have ever been written about the nature of confrontation. Penned by a wandering samurai in seventeenth-century Japan, it’s a timeless study of the mindset of the warrior – literal and figurative.

Who should read The Book of Five Rings?

  • Martial artists
  • Strategists  
  • Leaders

27
Buddhism Books: Real Life by Sharon Salzberg

Real Life

Sharon Salzberg
The Journey from Isolation to Openness and Freedom
4.4 (44 ratings)
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What's Real Life about?

Real Life (2023) is a guide to navigating life’s seasons with clarity and connection. While we all feel small and disconnected at times, we don’t have to remain stuck there. Drawing on a variety of voices, Real Life shares the possibility of a more expansive and aligned experience – even in the face of some of life’s most formidable challenges.

Who should read Real Life?

  • Anyone struggling with loneliness, grief, or trauma 
  • Individuals wanting to embrace greater freedom and joy
  • Longtime meditators seeking to deepen their practice

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Buddhism Books
 FAQs 

What's the best Buddhism book to read?

While choosing just one book about a topic is always tough, many people regard The Varieties of Religious Experience as the ultimate read on Buddhism.

What are the Top 10 Buddhism books?

Blinkist curators have picked the following:
  • The Varieties of Religious Experience by William James
  • Buddhism – Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen
  • The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
  • Thoughts Without a Thinker by Mark Epstein
  • The Wisdom of Life by Arthur Schopenhauer
  • The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma
  • The Distraction Addiction by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
  • Ikigai by Hector Garcia Puigcerver and Francesc Miralles
  • The Fear Factor by Abigail Marsh
  • How to Love by Thich Nhat Hanh

Who are the top Buddhism book authors?

When it comes to Buddhism, these are the authors who stand out as some of the most influential:
  • William James
  • Steve Hagen
  • Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu
  • Mark Epstein
  • Arthur Schopenhauer