This book is already on my list of top books for 2009. It would have been on my 2008 book list, but unfortunately, I didn’t get it read before I had published the list. Written in graphic novel format, this book belies the belief that if something is “just a comic book,” that it can’t be taken seriously. The book puts the Buddha and his teachings in social and historical context, which further enhances the reader’s understanding not only of Buddhism in general, but also why and how the Buddha’s thoughts and beliefs evolved the way they did. Buddha for Beginners is an outstanding basic primer to Buddhism as a whole, including how and when the various sects began, the differences between them, and even some commentary and observation on each of the sects without being overly judgmental about any of them. Asma’s illustrations, at times downright funny, do a wonderful job of keeping the text from being just another collection of historical facts without taking away from the information that is being presented. Beginning practioner to experienced teacher, this is a book that should sit on the shelf of every Buddhist. From Hampton Roads Publishing Company and available from your local, independent bookstore. (Tell ’em you saw it on Elephant Journal.com!)
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