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Top 10 List of Best Buddhist Books

Updated on October 7, 2012

As there is a tide in the western world to know Buddhism and meditation, this hub was written by keeping those western people in mind. These are the best Buddhism books which will explain the basic principles of Buddhism and path to the peace and freedom in mind in an understandable and simple way. I am proud to be a Buddhist by birth and practice and hope the others too will learn the simple life style (the Middle Way) that Buddha has taught and use it for the utmost joy.

When preparing and sorting the list I used the Amazon best sellers and my opinion regarding the books.

Best Buddhism Books No1 :The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching

Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation.

Author: Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh is one among the best authors who could explain the complex concepts of Buddhism in simple terms and easy to understand style. He himself being an active practitioner of Buddhism, he explains core concepts of Buddhism, and how we can apply them to our day to day lives. The book covers Four Nobel Truths, the Nobel Eight Fold Path, the Three Doors of liberation, the Three Dhamma Seals and the Seven Factors of Awakening etc. The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh probably may be the best Buddhist book (and the bestseller in Amazon) to learn the Buddha’s teaching.

Best Buddhism Books No 2: Peace Is Every Step

The path of mindfulness in everyday life.

Author : Thich Nhat Hanh

Our No2 of the list too is a nicely written book by Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen master teacher and the writer. Why we list this in the best Buddhism books is not only due to its simple language but it also explains how we can use Buddhism in our everyday life to achieve the utmost peace in mind. The simple practices explained here will help you achieve peace and freedom in mind. You can practice the simple exercises while you are working, driving, eating and even in breathing. Only by changing the “mindless” way we used to do those things into a “mindful” way.

Best Buddhism Books No 3 : How to Practice

The Way to a Meaningful Life

Author : His holiness the Dalai Lama

The third in our best Buddhism books list is a book by the most respected Buddhist monk today, his holiness the Dalai Lama. According to him the ability achieve the fulfillment of life is within each of us. In this book, the Nobel Peace Price winner and the best selling Buddhism books author shows us the path to the enlightenment. This book will be a constant companion to keep with you which will teach how to open your heart, avoid doing harm and keep the mental tranquility. How to overcome everyday obstacles like anger, jealousy and mistrust and counter productive thinking. This is essentially a Buddhist hand book.

Best Buddhism Books No 4 :Buddhism Plain and Simple

Author : Steve Hagen

The forth in our list is Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen. This will be a quite a good introductory guide to a Buddha and his original teaching. Because, most of the times we see books which embark more on the rituals than the teaching. The book is written in very simple language, but for the beginners it is recommended to read about a page a day. Though it seems simple in the outset there is a big theory behind, so take you time and allow the content to digest before you move on.

Best Buddhism Books No 5 :What the Buddha Taught

Author : Ven Walpola Rahula Theoro

The fifth in our best Buddhism books list and the first about Theravada Buddhism, is a book written by my fellow Sri Lanka Walpola Rahula Thero. This is the only book available in our list regarding the Theravada Buddhism. This is not a book for somebody new to Buddhism but for the educated and intelligent reader. The Author being a monk and a true practitioner of Buddhism, has done a great service to Buddhism by translating many original Suttas and Dammapada from ‘Pali” the original language in which Buddhism has been written.

Best Buddhism Books No 6 :Buddhism for Beginners

Author : Thubten Chodron

The sixth in out list is a beginner’s guide to Buddhism by a Tibetan Buddhism teacher Thubten Chodron. The book explains Buddhism and many misconceptions around it.

Best Buddhism Books No 7 :Mindfulness in Plain English

Author : Ven Bhante Henapola Gunaratana Thero

This is one of the bestselling Buddhism books on mediation and one of the most influential books on mindfulness. This book is again by a Sri Lankan monk. They are doing an absolutely marvelous job in spreading the word of Buddha’s teaching.

Best Buddhism Books No 8 : Food for the Heart

The Collected Teachings of Ajahn Chah

Author : Ajahn Chah, Ajahn Amaro, Jack Kornfield

Ajahn Chah was Thailand’s best known meditation teacher. He is famous for the beauty and the simplicity of his teaching. He is a very influential figure in introducing mediation to European and American people. Most of his teachings were available in private editions and this publication makes his thoughts of wisdom accessible for many readers. Earlier western teachers like, Ram Dass and Jack Kornfield have extolled Chah’s teaching to Western world and now the people can directly read them from this book.

Best Buddhism Books No 9 :The Art of Happiness

A Handbook of Living

Author : His holiness the Dalai Lama, Howard Cutler

Another classic by Dalai Lama and the second in our Best Buddhist books list. Dalai Lama, The Nobel price winner and the Tibetan spiritual leader, says the that happiness is the purpose of life and he describes how to achieve it. Everybody wants to be happy but how to be happy is always the question. Dalai Lama answers it with the help of Howard Cutler, the psychiatrist.

Best Buddhism Books No 10 :Buddhism for Mothers

A Calm Approach to Caring to yourself and your Children

Author : Sarah Napthali

Becoming a mother is the second birth for women. The lot of the things, the body, the relationships, daily work routine changes drastically. The book teaches how to handle them and how to handle them with joy. The book is about parenting in Buddhism’s perspective. It explains how to get the most of the joy by being with the kids and how can that be done with the least anger. How can mothers handle the changed relationships with their partners, friends and family using Buddhist perspectives.


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    • IndikaT profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Kandy,Sri Lanka

      Not necessarily. The Lord Buddha did not say that his philosophy (Actually Buddhism is best called a philosophy than a religion) should be named as Buddhism. But as it is the teachings of Buddha, it naturally became Buddhism. For the second question, the origin of Buddha's teaching is his wisdom. He realized in his early youth the uselessness of the life the people are enjoying(suffering). He thought that there should be a way to achieve the utmost joy, where there is no suffering. He first went to several teachers to find this noble way, but they were unable to teach it to him. Finally after studying for 6 long years he himself found the way to achieve the utmost joy, this path is called the Noble eight fold path.

    • platinumOwl4 profile image


      5 years ago

      This is a great article and extremely interesting. However, I have a question. Did Buddha imply that his teaching should be called Buddhism? Oops!! two questions. What is the origin of the Buddha's teaching?

    • stuff4kids profile image

      Amanda Littlejohn 

      5 years ago

      Great list of very good books to introduce westerners to Buddhism. I would only want to add that you might have included something from the Zen traditions. Might I recommend 'Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind' by Suzuki?

      Bless you :)

    • LKMore01 profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your list IndikaT. My curiosity and respect for all beliefs finds me reading voraciously. I have previously read four of the books you recommended and I have to agree with your selection. Thank you again for sharing your wisdom.

    • IndikaT profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Kandy,Sri Lanka

      Glad that you found the list interesting. Thanks for commenting.

    • ct92 profile image

      5 years ago from Denmark

      This list of Buddhist books was really great, thank you!

      Put most of the books on my to-read list, can't wait to get to them soon.

    • bookkus profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks for the list. I've wanted to learn more about Buddha.

    • profile image 

      5 years ago

      Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is an accumalation of everything that has ever been taught, learned, or experienced about Buddism. It is ths essence or core of the Lotus sutra aggreed by all the greatest practictiners of Buddism. Just Google Nam Myoho Renge Kyo or go to www. SGI-USA. com. Happiness For Everyone.

    • IndikaT profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Kandy,Sri Lanka

      You are lucky to be born in the country where Lord Buddha was born, got the enlightenment and then spread the word of Dhamma . Your comment reminded me that the list lacks a book about his early life. I will add such a book when I find one. Jathaka stories too are good way of studying the Buddha even though they are about his early lives. Thanks for commenting...

    • shalini sharan profile image

      shalini sharan 

      6 years ago from Delhi

      you reminded me of my history lessons, the best among all is the Jataka Tales which through pictures explains all the happenings of Buddha's life, how he left the princely life, what were the four things that changed him, the significance of his horse Kantaka, how he for years tried fasts and penances, how he got Enlightenment, gave his first sermon, how he dies, and the five things that represent him like dome for instance reflects his death

      i know these for my lessons, but it is really amazing to know about hiim, moreover it is in my native place that he is generally associated to, for example i have been to Vaishali which have all the stupas, it is rather peaceful


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