8.3 Editor's Pick
July 24, 2008

Best Classic Beginner’s Buddhist Books Ever?

Best Beginner’s Buddhist Books (we’re all beginners).

Growing up, I was (as are most young punks) half-crazy with hormones, thoughts, adrenaline, ambition and insecurity.

What got me through those days? A great mom. Some great, patient girlfriends. Basketball, and baseball, and anything that tired me out. Meditation.

And, reading the “profound, holy Dharma”—a series of Buddhist books that, better than any would-be mentor, connected with my heart and mind and experience—and fomented an inner dialogue that helped me to grow up, relax, and think about others (almost) as much as myself.

My Favorite Buddhist Books*

*for newer Dharma titles, see Shambhala Sun’s recommendations here and be sure to read the comments) like Turning the Mind Into an Ally or Ruling your World (great for business types) or excellent books by Sharon Salzberg, Robert Thurman, and a certain ‘simple monk.’

PS: back in the day, I used to read a page of Training the Mind—it’s so practical and helpful. Finally, it fell apart and I bought another, which now sits on my office desk.

What are your favorite Dharma books, that you’d recommend for others? All traditions welcome! Thich Nhat Hanh? Zen? Insight?

Relephant bonus: a famous meditation practitioner and writer:

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sharontiley Jun 15, 2019 3:27am

One of my favourites is ‘Living with Joy’ by
Sanaya Roman
I’ve given it away too many times, I’m in the process of getting another copy?✌?

Jeff Hutzler Jun 14, 2019 10:05am

are there any feminist/inclusive Buddhist writers and teachers? I am interested in great teaching embodied in any form-but have found the Buddhist community to still be lead by almost exclusively men-and sometimes a girl needs to see herself in an equal light.I am aware of Pema ect. I am also interested in supporting Tibetan Nuns to complete their degrees-and looking for books for teenage boys-young adults new to Buddhist philosophy and practice-any information would be great-thanks for the article!

bruceboonpetsitter Jun 14, 2019 10:04am

I adore and respect and admire Waylon Lewis’ writings. and sideways glances he has at life, our world…Im stuck in so many tiny boxes, on the hillside, made of ticky tacky and they all…oh sorry….You see I am very conservative about many subjects and very liberal about others and i try to sit on the fence about most but that tires your ass having to defend 2 sides….*sigh* what”s poor girl to do?, mainly because I am 60 something I think that is why I have more conservative leans. I love the whole Buddist thing though. Can’t kill a bug for anything :))) But people seem to generalize yet again and assume they know all your many onion layers and the so many minutes I have lived and experienced life and people and situations and observations that are . Few are looking back on the wisdom of the Sages among them….Please people. a libertarian is but a republican with a bong i am not the enemy because I am pro life. anyways enough about me, waylon you inspire me to be a better buddhist.

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Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat.” Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword’s Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by “Greatist”, Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: “the mindful life” beyond the choir & to all those who didn’t know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, touches on modern relationships from a Buddhist point of view. His dream of 9 years, the Elephant “Ecosystem” will find a way to pay 1,000s of writers a month, helping reverse the tide of low-quality, unpaid writing & reading for free online.