The Top 15 Best Books on Buddhism for Beginners

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Written By Ryan Patton

Adventurer, Tech Geek and Lover of Productivity Hacks. 

The best way to learn about Buddhism is by diving deep into the one or more of the following Best Books on Buddhism for Beginners.

When it comes to the world of spirituality and religion, people are becoming more drawn to the world of Buddhism because of their beliefs, their practices, and the way they see the world.

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As their way to begin their journey into Buddhism, people chose to hear lectures, watch informative videos, practice Buddhism beliefs, but most important of all, reading books on the subject is by far the best way to learn about a certain subject.

Either for beginners or practitioners, Buddhism books have great teachings, from autobiographies to readings about meditations, finding happiness, or even dealing with life’s struggles with a different mentality. 

People seem fascinated with Buddhism as they find it to be a practice that can bring you closer to your path to enlightenment and personal development.

In a certain way, Buddhism focuses on teaching people to appreciate life and to discover the meaning of it.

Buddhism has been a religion practiced by many for hundreds to thousands of years, as it is believed to be a discipline that focuses on inner peace and realizing that life involves going through ups and downs in order to acquire deeper learning and understanding of the purpose of life means. 

For people who are interested in learning more about this practice and religion, reading the best books on Buddhism might be the best way to expand one’s knowledge.

These books below are great reads for beginners who are starting to learn about the teachings of this ancient spiritual tradition.

Table of Contents

  1. Best Books on Buddhism
  2. The Heart Of The Buddha’s Teaching
  3. Real Happiness
  4. Buddhism for Beginners
  5. Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings
  6. On The Path To Enlightenment
  7. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
  8. Blue Jean Buddha: Voices of Young Buddhists
  9. What the Buddha Taught
  10. When Things Fall Apart 
  11. Radiant Mind: Essential Buddhist Teachings and Texts
  12. Being Upright
  13. The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Buddhist Wisdom
  14. Mindfulness In Plain English
  15. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life
  16. No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners: Clear Answers to Burning Questions About Core Buddhist Teachings

Best Books on Buddhism

The Heart Of The Buddha’s Teaching

Author: Thich Nhat Hanh

A great book for beginners, Thich Nhat Hanh introduces the world of Buddhism to those that are curious but have yet to find out what this entire religion involves. The book talks about the enlightenment path, and the three doors of liberation, which essentially are Buddhism teachings to understand how to transform your life.

Even as a practitioner, this book is great for reinforcing what you already know, and you might be able to get a glimpse into different concepts that you weren’t aware of.

Real Happiness

Author: Sharon Salzberg

If you are looking for books on Buddhism, this is definitely a must-read, especially for people interested in acquiring all the positive knowledge and practices that come from Buddhism teachings.

In a certain way, this book talks about one of the most famous practices of Buddhism, meditation, and the power of it. This book is a 28-day program guide that teaches you how to change your life and your perspective in order to find inner peace.

Buddhism for Beginners

Author: Thubten Chodron 

As the title says, this book is centered on beginners, new practitioners, or people interested in Buddhism. For people that wonder what is the true essence of Buddhism, this book is the guide to lead you through the way and answer all the questions that you have related to this practice.

The main idea for the book aside from being an introduction to Buddhism, is to be sort of a guide that answers all the questions you might have about this practice like, what is meditation? Who was Buddha and what did he believe in? What is karma? What is the Buddhist path and who is it for? among other questions. This book is a great manual to approach Buddhism as a beginner.  

Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings

Authors: William Edelglass & Jay L. Garfield 

An essential aspect of Buddhism is the philosophy that they live by. More than a practice, Buddhism is meant to be transformative to people’s lives and to make people more aware and more in tune with their inner selves.

The entire Buddhist philosophy relies on finding peace and a purpose in life, and in order to get there, one must understand fully what practices are taught in this religion. 

On The Path To Enlightenment

Author: Matthieu Ricard

This is by far one of the best books on Buddhism and one you should always have at hand when integrating Buddhism into your life. Buddhist Monk Matthieu Ricard writes about his experience with Buddhism and how he believes that it led him on the path to enlightenment.

Ricard not only talks about what Buddhism is, but he talks about specific aspects like meditation, altruism, the power of the mind, and even transform your life.

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Author: Shunryu Suzuki 

This another great book for beginners as well, but also for experienced practitioners. This book claims to be an informal talk on zen meditation and practices, which is a great way to say that it has a more relaxed approach to Buddhism and it can be understood from different points of view. Mainly, the book is amazing for beginners as it teaches them a world of possibilities and outcomes that can result from a Buddhist practitioner’s mind. In a certain way, this book helps beginners to be guided along the way, without steering them in just one direction, but it helps them to adventure themselves into a sea of possibilities. This is hands down one of the best zen buddhism books on this list.

Blue Jean Buddha: Voices of Young Buddhists

Author: Sumi Loundon Kim 

Sumi Loundon Kim was once a beginner and a curious practitioner of Buddhism. As a young American, the author became so interested in the entire Buddhist practices that she started integrating all aspects of it into her life, including meditation, and a new mentality in order to transform her life completely. With her interest in hand, she was drawn to other people’s stories as well and ended up collecting tales of other people for their reasons for finding Buddhism and integrating it into their lives. In this book, you will find the voices of young Buddhists, learn how they got started and how they were able to transform their lives with these teachings.

What the Buddha Taught

Author: Walpola Rahula  

For readers who have become interested in the teachings of Buddhism, definitely look up to the Buddha in order to find some of the wisest teachings available from this practice. Walpola Rahula talks about what the Buddha taught others, and how people can learn from his teachings. Buddhist religion has been present for hundreds to thousands of years, but the Buddha brought more light and freshness knowledge into the entire religion altogether. People worship the Buddha because of his teachings and because of what he believed in, and therefore getting an insight into this master on Buddhism might be a more enjoyable way to integrate Buddhist teachings altogether.

When Things Fall Apart

Author: Pema Chödrön

This book aside from integrating Buddhist teachings in it focuses on the hard and complicated times that we all might experience in life. The author talks about how difficult times are a great way to put things into perspective, to be more appreciative, and to learn life lessons throughout the way. Painful experiences are often what cultivates courage and compassion, and although most people find it extremely complicated to deal with these difficult times, one must understand how to cope with them, and how to integrate them in life, and recognize the value behind them. This is all a Buddhist mentality, and it is a great way to integrate this practice into your life by changing your perspective on life situations.

Radiant Mind: Essential Buddhist Teachings and Texts

Author: Jean Smith

This book is a great recollection of Buddhist teachings, it has texts and book passages with commentaries and explanations on numerous aspects of the religion itself. It has wise words from masters like the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Han, the Buddha, and even Jack Kornfield. The book is more than interesting, it is insightful as it is a collection of important texts that have been appreciated throughout life. Having access to these texts is a gift for Buddhism practitioners, as it is their knowledge guide and a source for their path altogether.

Being Upright

Author: Reb Anderson 

This book is an introduction to Buddhism teachings and some of the most basic concepts about this practice. This book focuses on inner peace and being good within yourself. All of the teachings that are included here are meant to be followed and applied into life in order to get a full transformation. 

The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Buddhist Wisdom

Author: Gill Farrer-Halls

There is nothing more pretty and more appealing than an illustrated book. This book on Buddhism includes the story of Siddhartha, a young prince who is known for his Buddhist teachings and beliefs. This book contains excerpts of his story, quotes, instructions to know how to understand and integrate meditation in your daily life, as well as beautiful illustrations on Buddhism teachings. This book is great for beginners as it talks a lot about the story of this practice and how can one integrate it into their lives, and also, by having illustrations this book becomes more than a mere guide, it doesn’t have to be put on a shelf when completed, it can be placed on a coffee table or on display somewhere, as it is extremely exciting to look at.  

Mindfulness In Plain English

Author: Bhante Gunaratana

This book is a clear and concise explanation of the Buddhist teachings. Some people might read a thing or two about mindfulness, inner peace, meditation, but do they really grasp the true concept of what all of this means? The purpose of this book is to help you understand deeply all of the Buddhist teachings and concepts in order to experience a deeper transformation in your life. Understanding all of these terms is key in order to integrate the practice and be able to see results in your life for yourself.

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

Author: Jon Kabat-Zinn

A very straight forward and not complicated introduction into mindfulness and living in a more conscious way. This book is an amazing introduction to wellness within yourself, and how mindfulness is one of the primary goals when it comes to spirituality and life transformation. This book touches on one of the most important practices of Buddhism and it is a very practical and quick read in order to introduce the reader to one very big and important subject.

No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners: Clear Answers to Burning Questions About Core Buddhist Teachings

 Author: Noah Rasheta

If you are someone who likes typical books about questions and answers, then this is the book for you. This book is simple and concise, it goes directly to the point and focuses on explaining the fundamentals of the Buddhist teachings to its readers. It provides the important and necessary information, but above everything, the book is very self-explanatory and it tries to answer all possible questions that any beginner interested in Buddhism might have.

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Best 15 Buddhism Books for Beginners

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