12 Best Books On Buddhism Everyone Should Read

Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautam in the 5th Century BCE. It is said to be one of the oldest religions to exist. Later Siddhartha Gautam was given the name of Buddha. Unlike other religion, Buddhism does not have a central text around which all its ideologies revolves and sums up the basic tenets, instead, it is a collection of philosophies and school of thoughts which is believed to be a path to enlightenment.

With the help of meditation and insight, we make our own path of spiritual enrichment and the books on Buddhism simply outline those concepts. It is necessary to read these best books on Buddhism as they provide you with some of the important principles and ideologies that one should follow for their own enlightenment.

The believers of Buddhism who are known as Buddhists follow the footsteps of the buddha to reach nirvana. Nirvana is also known as enlightenment which frees us from all the worldly desires and the fear of the cycle of life and birth.

If you want to explore more about Buddhism, you must read the books written on it. The books will introduce you with various ideologies that the Buddha passed on to his believers and also tell you about how it started and why it has such a great impact on the population of the world.

The following are books written by different authors on Buddhism. These books are proved to be moving and informative for the readers. Have a look below:

1. The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching

Author’s Name: Thich Nhat Hahn

Publishing Year: 1997

Best Books On Buddhism

The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching is written by Thich Nhat Hahn who is a Vietnam-based peace activist and Zen master. The author has penned several impactful books in his career and The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching is another brilliant example of it. In the book, Thich Nhat Hahn has shown us the connection between personal, inner peace and peace on earth.

Through his book, the author has sent the message about how we can transform our suffering into liberation, joy, and peace. The book, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching will walk you through the foundational doctrines of Buddhism.

The book will introduce you with Buddhist ideologies and what the buddha believed in, including the four noble truths, the three jewels, the eightfold path, and the five Skandhas, and others.

2. The Miracle of Mindfulness

Author’s Name: Thich Nhat Hanh

Publishing Year: 1975

The Miracle of Mindfulness is said to be a great companion of the book we mentioned just above. Both written by the same author, Thich Nhat Hahn will be your complete guide to knowing Buddhism. The book was originally written and published in Vietnamese and was later translated into English by Mobi Hoe.

Thich Nhat Hahn who is a Buddhist monk has presented us with a self-help book that shows us different methods of becoming liberated. The book is your guide to meditation and walking on the path of spiritual enlightenment. The Miracle of Mindfulness is frequently dubbed as the ‘Best beginner Buddhist book ever’.

The book contains some of the most lucid explanations of basic Buddhist teachings and will teach you how you can live a more grounded and happier life by being attentive to the present moment.

3. The Buddha and his Teachings

Author’s Name: Nārada (Maha Thera.) | Editor: Samuel Bercholz and Sherab Chodzin Kohn

Publishing Year: 1942

The editors Samuel Bercholz and Sherab Chodzin Kohn have done great work in providing us with an overview of Buddhism through this book. The book was originally written by Nārada (Maha Thera.) The Buddha and his Teachings is one of the best books that give us a clear and detailed introduction to the teachings of the buddha.

The book will explain to you how the ideologies of Buddhism were formed and what are the school of thought that is followed through Buddhism. The founder of Buddhism, Gautam Buddha is considered to be the most active missionary in the world. For about forty-five years, Buddha wandered from place to place preaching his doctrine to the masses.

The Buddha and his Teachings will give you an overview of his teachings and will also provide you a brief history of his life.

4. Buddhism for Beginners

Author’s Name: Thubten Chodron

Publishing Year: 2001

The brilliant book on Buddhism answers the most commonly asked question about the religion, “What is the essence of Buddhism?” The book will present you with the answer to this question in a very simple conversational question and answer format. The author of the book, Thubten Chodron has used a pretty simple approach in explaining to you the concepts of Buddhism.

Well, not just it, but Buddhism for Beginners will also clear all the misconceptions that people have about Buddhism. Readers strongly recommend this book for beginners who want to learn the religion from the very beginning.

The author of the book, Thubten Chodron is an ordained nun in the Tibetan Gelugpa tradition. She belongs to California and has worked in the school system in Log Angeles. After that, her interest inclined towards practicing Buddhism and she proceeded by that. Since then she has been traveling and teaching about Buddhism and also writing books on the concept to enlighten more and more people.

5. What the Buddha Taught

Author’s Name: Walpola Rahula

Publishing Year: 1959

What the Buddha Taught by the author Dr. Walpola Rahula is the widely used book on Buddhism that is used to teach the fundamentals of the religion to the non-Buddhist. People who are new to Buddhism can definitely use this book to get the overall idea and overview of the subject. The book contains illustrative content and original texts from the Pali.

What the Buddha Taught is your complete guide to Buddhism, whether you have confusion about a term or doctrine, this book is a know-it-all. The readers highly recommend it for beginners. They turn to it when they are looking for some introductory text on the religion.

The author of the book was a scholar of Sri Lanka and a Theravada monk. He later became a professor of history and religions at Northwestern University. He has poured all his knowledge of Buddhism in this book.

6. Open Heart, Clear Mind

Author’s Name: Thubten Chodron

Publishing Year: 1990

Open Heart, Clear Mind is another book on the list by the author, Thubten Chodron. The author with her deep understanding of the tenets of Buddhism has tried to pass along her wisdom through this book. Open Heart, Clear Mind is an provides us with an easy-to-read.

The tone in the book is conversational and it gives you the proper introduction about the basics of Buddhism. Apart from this, you will also get to know about the practical applications of Buddhism that you can use in your everyday lives or also teach your children.

Various great authors have showcased their talents and their knowledge on the subject through their books but what makes Thubten Chodron different from the others is her psychological approach towards the subject. She chose to focus more on the psychological aspect of Buddhism than the mystical one and according to the readers, this has made her books more accessible and personal for them.

7. A Path with Heart

Author’s Name: Jack Kornfield

Publishing Year: 1993

A Path with Heart: A Guide through Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life by Jack Kornfield is believed to be the most important book to have written on meditation so far. The book is your guide to spiritual awakening and enlightenment that will result in your inner transformation. A Path with Heart will show you the integration of spiritual practice in the western mode of life.

The book is actually pretty brilliant and will explain to you how you can stop being at yourself and how to bring peace in life with the help of meditation. Taking meditation as the central idea here, the author has explained to us how it can impact our entire living.

Jack Kornfield is a teacher, psychologist, and meditation master. He has learned Buddhism as a monk in the Theravada monasteries of different countries such as Thailand, Burma, and India. Through the book, A Path with Heart he has taught us how to bring genuine spiritual practice in our own life.

8. After the Ecstasy, the Laundry

Author’s Name: Jack Kornfield

Publishing Year: 2000

Another great book on the list, After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield sends the message about the existence of enlightenment. The internationally renowned meditation master assures us that the path to enlightenment is through meditation, as meditation brings an ultimate peace among ourselves and stops the war that we are at with ourselves.

The author in the book has revealed the path to enlightenment and how we can achieve it. But along with that, the author has also explained that how it doesn’t free you from all the other hassles of daily life. Meaning that even after achieving it your daily responsibilities, the day-to-day tasks will still wait for you.

After the Ecstasy, the Laundry will help you in understanding how you can imply the spiritual awakening into our imperfect lives. A guide for every-day life.

9. Being Peace

Author’s Name: Thich Nhat Hanh

Publishing Year: 1987

Thich Nhat Hanh has written several books on Buddhism and has attempted to enlighten his readers with the knowledge that he has on Buddhism. The author, in Being Peace, has addressed both us being engaged compassionately with the outer world and our own personal awakening.

In this book, the author has used various anecdotes from his own life to help the readers understand how he himself reacted to several situations. The book consists of different poems and fables too. Being Peace considered one of the best books to be used as a starting point for anyone whose interests are inclined towards Buddhism. The book makes a great ‘beginners guide’.

Through Being Peace, Thich Nhat Hahn has explained his key practice of living, which is being alive in the present moment.

10. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

Author’s Name: Chogyam Trungpa

Publishing Year: 1973

Through his book, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, the author has coined the term, ‘Spiritual Materialism’. According to him, spiritual materialism is the pitfalls of self-deception that we face during our path to spirituality. He has addressed the most common pitfalls that we face during our mission.

The book is actually a transcript of two series of lectures given by Trungpa Rinpoche. It is based on the highest view of the Vajrayana school. Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism will introduce you with the basic principles of not just Buddhism but of spiritual practice altogether.

11. Happiness is an Inside Job

Author’s Name: Sylvia Boorstein

Publishing Year: 2007

Happiness is an Inside Job that raises some of the most common questions that we often ask ourselves. In his book, the author has addressed the questions like How one can perform their day to day activities and how they can continue to love the same way when everything around is falling apart and life is too complicated sometimes. She has asked herself these questions and answered it in her book in a graceful manner.

The author, Sylvia Boorstein through her three decades of practice and teaching has found the secret to happiness and according to her, happiness is within ourselves. The author says that happiness lies in our actively cultivating relationships with the outer world including our family, friends, colleagues, and people we barely know.

12. When Things Fall Apart

Author’s Name: Pema Chodron

Publishing Year: 1997

When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron is an all-time classic that teaches you how to process in day to day life. The book provides you with a complete guide that teaches you how you can overcome challenges in your day to day life. Our difficulties in daily life may come in a way of our spiritual awakening and it can stop or slow our personal growth therefore it is important to overcome those difficulties in life in order to function effectively.

The author also focuses on the ancient teaching of Tibetan Buddhism meanwhile she also draws confrontation with a personal crisis. The bestselling novel is a great book on Buddhism and it also provides us with a deeper understanding of the religion.


Buddhism has been in existence for a long period of time. It has influenced a lot of people and proved to be a way of spiritual awakening for the believers. The books written on Buddhism are not only enlightening but they will also guide you through the origin and philosophies that are followed in the religion.

Instead of revolving around a central text, Buddism follows a different school of thoughts and it also teaches us our path to enlightenment. Meditation also plays a very significant role in the teachings of Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The authors of these books written on Buddhism are believers themselves who have shared their own knowledge on the subject with us.

If you have read or happen to know any good books on Buddhism please let us know about it in the comment section below. Also if you have any queries or suggestions, you can give it to us by commenting below.


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