Recommended Books

I own and have read a few books on Buddhism (here’s what I’ve cataloged thus far). Below are the ones that I’ve read and can recommend most. There are many “classics” that I haven’t gotten to yet. With time.

Of course, your list might be totally different. After all, what do I know?


Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock Monster Movies & the Truth About Reality
by Brad Warner

This is the book that rang my bell, shook my salt shaker, and slapped me silly. A great read, even if Zen isn’t your thing.

Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen’s Treasury of the Right Dharma
by Brad Warner

A worthy follow-up to Hardcore Zen.

There Is No God and He Is Always with You: A Search for God in Odd Places
by Brad Warner

An intriguing look at “God” in zen.

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
by Shunryu Suzuki

A classic for a reason. (Also recommended is Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Zen Teaching of Shunryu Suzuki because he was an interesting dude.)

One Robe, One Bowl: The Zen Poetry of Ryokan
by Ryokan

Some great poetry if you appreciate beauty in brevity.

Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire at the Gates of Tassajara
by Colleen Morton Busch

An amazing look at how a group of zen followers not trained in firefighting battled a wildfire in the middle of the wilderness and won.

How to Cook Your Life: From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment
by Eihei Dogen

It can be hard to summarize zen thought in a concise, understandable way, despite it being a very practical philosophy. Kosho Uchiyama Roshi manages to do so and even Dogen’s “Instructions for the Zen Cook” is quite accessible in this translation.

The Art of Just Sitting: Essential Writings on the Zen Practice of Shikantaza
edited by John Daido Loori

Some of the stuff’s a little heady, but overall a good read.

General Buddhism

Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution
by David R. Loy

Terrible title, excellent book on engaged Buddhism and the responsibility of Buddhists in the west to use the dharma to be active, cause change, and increase understanding.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
by Pema Chodron

A very insightful book on dealing with pain, suffering, loss, and change by “leaning into it.”

The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights
by Norm Phelps

Food of Bodhisattvas: Buddhist Teachings on Abstaining from Meat
by Shabkar

Put down the milk, eggs, and meat. You know you should.


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