The 8 Best Books on Buddhism for Enlightenment

This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy we may make a commission, at no additional charge to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more details.

Buddhism has its origins in the Eastern part of ancient India and is one of the oldest religions in the world. Today, there are millions of practicing Buddhists across every continent, with an especially large and growing number in the West.

Buddhism is all about carving out a spiritual path to nirvana. While I’m not a Buddhist myself, I’ve dabbled in some of the meditation and mindfulness practices that stem from the faith, and these experiences have sparked my interest and made me want to learn more.

I know I’m not alone in my curiosity; Buddhism is one of the fastest-growing religions in Western society in terms of new converts. If you’re interested in learning more about Buddhism, then read on. I’ve compiled a list of the 8 best books on Buddhism available right now. Whether you’re striving for enlightenment or you’re simply looking to learn more about this ancient faith, these books will send you in the right direction.

At A Glance: Our Top 8 Best Books on Buddhism for Enlightenment

  1. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice
  2. No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners: Clear Answers to Burning Questions About Core Buddhist Teachings
  3. The Art of Happiness
  4. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
  5. Love for Imperfect Things: How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection
  6. Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
  7. Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening
  8. Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment
IMAGE PRODUCT
Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
  • Publisher: Weatherhill (1970-06-01) (January 1, 1656)
  • Best Sellers Rank: #2,312,799 in Books
VIEW ON AMAZON →READ REVIEWS →
No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners: Clear Answers to Burning Questions About Core Buddhist Teachings
  • Publisher:Althea Press (May 15, 2018)
  • Awards: Goodreads Choice Awards Best Fantasy
VIEW ON AMAZON →READ REVIEWS →
The Art of Happiness
  • Publication date:1 October 2009
  • Print length:364 pages
VIEW ON AMAZON →READ REVIEWS →
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
  • Publication date February 14, 2013
  • Print length:210 pages
VIEW ON AMAZON →READ REVIEWS →
TLove for Imperfect Things: How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection
  • Publication date:December 24, 2018
  • Print length:272 pages
VIEW ON AMAZON →READ REVIEWS →
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
  • Print length:134 pages
  • Publication date:March 1, 1992
VIEW ON AMAZON →READ REVIEWS →
Buddhism for Healing
  • Publication date:December 15, 2020
  • Print length:184 pages
VIEW ON AMAZON →READ REVIEWS →
Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment
  • Best Sellers Rank #4,364 in Audible Books & Originals
  • #10 in Eastern Philosophy
VIEW ON AMAZON →READ REVIEWS →

Best Books on Buddhism

Best Books on Buddhism

#1. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice by Shunryu Suzuki

View Best Price on Amazon

Originally published over forty years ago, Zen Mind, Beginners Mind is still one of the most beloved Zen books to come out of the United States to this day.

Its famous opening line, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”, sets the scene for the entire book. It reminds us not to get too hung up on the idea of “mastering” Zen; if we do that, we’ll simply never get there.

This book is a wonderful guide to the basics of Buddhism; everything from nonduality and the middle way to the posture and breathing patterns of zazen is explained in fluid, clear and concise language. It’s a fantastic guide for beginners and those who are new to the faith, but many long-time practitioners also regularly reread this book as a way of inspiring and reconnecting with the practice.

#2. No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners: Clear Answers to Burning Questions About Core Buddhist Teachings by Noah Rasheta

View Best Price on Amazon

This super practical Q&A stylebook is a clear-cut, straight-to-the-point guide for those who are relatively new to Buddhism and want answers to their burning questions. There are no unnecessarily vague concepts and flowery language to get past; just a pragmatic and easy-to-follow approach that even readers who have never resonated with spirituality can appreciate.

Questions like ‘can agnostics and atheists still be Buddhist?’ and ‘are you supposed to stop thinking while you meditate?’ are all answered in an easy-to-digest format that relates the practice back to our daily lives.

Those of us who are brand new to Buddhism will walk away from this book with a solid understanding of the key concepts, teachings, philosophies and practices, and how to apply them in our own lives.

#3. The Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama XIV and Howard C. Cutler

View Best Price on Amazon

Nobel Prize winner and spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, is known around the world as a beacon of happiness. He is said to spread joy like a contagion, and very few people can remain sad, bitter, or angry in his presence. And thanks to this book, which he wrote alongside renowned psychiatrist Dr. Howard C. Cutler, we can share in his blissful secret and use his wisdom to improve our own lives.

The Dalai Lama believes that the true purpose of life is happiness and that everything we do is driven towards achieving it. Using both spiritual wisdom and the science of psychology, this book shows us how to live a life free from anger, bitterness, and resentment, without the chains of anxiety, insecurity, and depression.

He examines some of the most common hurdles humans face, such as grief, the pursuit of wealth, and the breakdown of relationships, and shows us how to sail on the seas of life with an overwhelming sense of peace; no matter what comes our way.

#4. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön

View Best Price on Amazon

Born in New York in 1936, Pema Chödrön is an American Tibetan Buddhist and an ordained nun. She’s written numerous books over the years, all of which are well worth reading, but When Things Fall Apart is her most influential and popular work.

The book is a transcription of a collection of talks which she gave between 1987 and 1994. She covers a whole host of topics to help us improve our lives and the lives of others around us. Chapters include how to communicate in a way that encourages others to open up, how pain and sorrow can cultivate wisdom, courage, and compassion, how to break bad habits, and how to create effective social change, just to name a few.

It’s a book packed to the rafters with wisdom and guidance that has helped millions of people through some of the toughest times in life.

#5. Love for Imperfect Things: How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection by Haemin Sunim

View Best Price on Amazon

Author Haemin Sunim, whose name means ‘spontaneous wisdom,’ wrote this book to help people around the world learn to love themselves. It became an instant bestseller that has been translated into multiple languages to reach readers on a global scale.

Sunim is a firm believer that when we cultivate a loving relationship with ourselves, we are more able to show and receive love from others. He reminds us that no one on earth is perfect, and we should never judge ourselves by a standard of perfection either. To do so would be setting ourselves up for inevitable failure.

Instead, we must learn to treat ourselves with compassion and empathy. When we forgive ourselves for our failures and view ourselves in a loving light, we are able to be more confident, more attentive, more patient, and more courageous in every aspect of our lives. This cultivates a deeper connection with ourselves and others and a feeling of completeness that can only be found within.

#6. Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life by Thich Nhat Hanh

View Best Price on Amazon

We are so busy rushing around in our hectic, modern lives that most of the time, we forget to breathe. We don’t notice that in every moment, wherever we are and whatever we are doing, there’s a sublime peace that is ours to experience.

Zen Master and spiritual leader, Thich Nhat Hanh, shows us how to access this peace, even when we feel stressed and anxious. Instead of seeing the world as a series of never-ending hurdles we have to cross to reach the end goal, Hanh challenges us to see these everyday annoyances as signals to return back to our true selves. The ringing of a cellphone, the honking of a horn in traffic, and the dirty dishes piled up in the sink are all opportunities for mindfulness. And the more mindful we are, the more alive we can feel, and the more joy we will cultivate for ourselves and those around us.

#7. Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening by Stephen Batchelor

View Best Price on Amazon

This easy-to-digest guide from British author and teacher Stephen Batchelor explains that Buddism isn’t something to believe in, but something to do. As a proponent of agnostic or secular Buddhism, he argues that the concepts and practices of this ancient faith are something that we can all connect and engage with, no matter what religion or spiritual background we hold.

Buddhism Without Beliefs reminds us that the Buddha wasn’t some kind of elevated or privileged being with a divine spiritual connection; he was a man who challenged himself and his followers to contemplate and understand the nature of suffering to reach a state of acceptance, and ultimately, enlightenment.

#8. Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment by Robert Wright

View Best Price on Amazon

Journalist and author Robert Wright is one of America’s sharpest minds. His books cover a wide array of subjects, from politics and science to history and religion. His earlier bestselling title, The Moral Animal, explains that evolution has shaped the human brain to warp how we see ourselves and the world, making genuine happiness a struggle to achieve. But according to Wright, the answer to overcoming this lies in Buddhism.

Buddhists have known for millennia what science is only just beginning to figure out now; that suffering and anguish come from our inability to perceive the world as it really is. Buddhist practices, specifically meditation, help us to lift the veil and see the world more clearly.

Wright combines evolutionary psychology and modern discoveries in neuroscience to prove that Buddhism paves the way to a happier and healthier existence for both the individual and for the human species as a whole.

Conclusion

These 8 books are some of the most comprehensive and respected titles on the subject of Buddhism. Whether you’re completely new to Buddhism or you’re a long-time practitioner, these books are a valuable resource to help anyone connect with the teachings of the Buddha and ultimately reach enlightenment.

Leave a Comment

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!