The 10 Best Books on Buddhism for Beginners

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Are you a practicing Buddhist? Do you want to learn more about Buddhism? What are the core values that Buddhists follow?

Whether or not you follow Buddhist philosophy, its teachings can help you be a better person and reach peace of mind. And one of the best ways to start your Buddhism journey is to pick up a book on the subject. 

We’ve rounded up a list of the best books on Buddhism that showcase the true values of the religion.

Essential Books to Learn Buddhist Principles

In addition to finding peace and becoming a better person, Buddhism offers many benefits. One luring benefit is that you’ll make many connections. A core value in Buddhism is helping people, so along your journey, you will make new friends who will stick by you for a long time. You’ll also see an improvement in your physical and mental health when you exercise meditation, an essential Buddhist practice.

To get the most out of these advantages, check out these 10 books on Buddhism.

The Art of Happiness

In The Art of Happiness, you’ll walk with the Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Prize winner and spiritual leader of Tibet, down the Buddhist path toward happiness. According to him, you have the power to bring more happiness into your life by simply training yourself to be happier. He discusses four forms of happiness training, which will improve your outlook on life, interpersonal relationships, resilience in the face of suffering, and everyday spirituality. 

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is a parable centered on Julian, a hotshot-lawyer-turned-monk, and his former colleague John. Julian shares what he’s learned from studying with the Sages of Sivana, a near-mythological group of monks in India who know the secrets to enlightenment.

Julian’s lessons range from gaining control of your thoughts to finding a purpose in life, to properly managing your time so that you can achieve that purpose. All of this works toward the ultimate goal of living a simple, fulfilling, and happy life. 

While the characters and events are all fictional, the lessons Julian teaches are based on real philosophical and religious traditions. 

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

One of the most influential books of the last 50 years, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance demystifies the foundations of our modern ideas and values—and teaches us how to find fulfillment in any aspect of our lives. It combines a narrative of a father and son on a motorcycle journey across the country, along with philosophical musings on the human relationship with technology, metaphysics, and how to live a life of meaning 

In this book, you’ll discover an intellectual thrill unlike any other: part family tragedy, part insightful meditation on the ways we think, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is nourishment for both heart and mind. 

Think Like a Monk

Former Vedic monk and award-winning content creator Jay Shetty claims that the route to happiness and fulfillment is to Think Like a Monk. According to him, monks are the calmest and happiest people in the world because they live with a sense of purpose that aligns with their true, inner selves. 

Fortunately, you don’t need to cut yourself off from the modern world or shave your head to benefit from this mindset. Shetty draws from his experiences as a monk, ancient spiritual texts, and the latest psychological research to transform abstract concepts into actionable methods you can easily incorporate into your life. 

Radical Acceptance

Many of us spend our lives in a kind of trance, trapped by thoughts that we’re unworthy, sinful, or simply bad people. We’re stuck in our own minds, cut off from our experiences and the universal love and awareness that we all share. 

Tara Brach, a psychologist and devout Buddhist, explains how we can learn to accept each moment as it comes—without judging our experiences or ourselves. This practice, which she calls Radical Acceptance, is the key to waking up from our trances, reconnecting with our experiences, and living our lives fully. 

10% Happier

Former ABC News anchor Dan Harris believes anyone can benefit from meditation. In 10% Happier, he offers a skeptic’s journey through the world of self-help following his meltdown on live television. Harris explains how meditation allowed him to get control of his anxiety, manage his ego, and become a more compassionate person. This book explores how mindfulness and meditation can improve your life and career—even by just 10%. 

This book explores mindfulness, meditation, and Buddhist principles. 


Why do you get up in the morning? What gives your life meaning and purpose? Many people can’t answer these questions. Even worse, they’re stuck in dysfunctional lifestyles that prevent them from ever finding out what their purpose is.

In Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, author and blogger Héctor García (author of A Geek in Japan) and novelist and self-help writer Francesc Miralles teach you to apply the Japanese concept of ikigai, or life purpose, to your own life. Drawing on lessons from the people of Okinawa, who live longer than anybody else on earth, as well as on insights from art, science, and psychology, they show you how to find and follow your own ikigai and cultivate a happy, healthy lifestyle to sustain it.

Mindfulness in Plain English

Do you get irritated, angry, anxious, or emotional more easily than you would like? Mindfulness meditation may be worth trying. Being mindful means observing your thoughts and emotions as they arise, without succumbing to your typical knee jerk reactions. You discover the roots of your anger, greed, and selfishness, and you learn to banish these psychic irritants. Ultimately, you become more at peace and friendlier to other people.

Mindfulness in Plain English is an approachable introduction to mindfulness and meditation. These are practical tips and are truly written in plain English with little spiritual mumbo-jumbo. With this book, you’ll learn how to start meditating and deal with common problems.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

In The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson argues that we are frustrated in life and feel like failures because we value and prioritize the wrong things, thanks in part to society’s emphasis on positive thinking, over-involved parents, and our susceptibility to superficial social media messages. This leads us to pursue emotional highs that don’t lead to lasting happiness. 

The solutions are counterintuitive and include: be wrong, fail, tolerate feeling bad, accept pain, practice rejection. Because we can’t care equally about everything, we need to prioritize and focus on what brings us happiness and meaning. In other words, we need to carefully choose what we give our f*cks about.

The book draws from several established philosophies (Stoicism, Existentialism, and Buddhism). It explores some of the psychology behind what motivates people’s decisions, and why we’re driven to give so many f*cks about so many unimportant things. 

The Happiness Hypothesis

The Happiness Hypothesis explores the nature of human happiness, blending the philosophical and theological wisdom of ancient thinkers with insights from the field of positive psychology. Our satisfaction is driven by how our mental filters interpret the events in our lives, with the human brain perpetually divided against itself in the struggle between the desires created by our emotions and the attempts of reason to control them. The key to happiness is to use reason to focus the mind away from desires that will only bring fleeting happiness while giving in to those desires that will bring lasting fulfillment.

The Book of Five Rings

Two years before his death, the famous Samurai Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) retired from dueling and retreated to a cave to write and reflect upon the true Way of the warrior. The resulting book, The Book of Five Rings, contains the key principles of Musashi’s approach, covering a range of topics such as the importance of constant practice, achieving mental and physical equilibrium, and how to defeat any enemy, large or small, in combat. Throughout the work, Musashi emphasizes that the key to a warrior’s success is strategy and discipline, not brute strength or innate talent.  

In this book, you’ll learn Musashi’s core principles and explore ways in which readers can apply Musashi’s teachings to their personal and professional lives. 

The Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita is a conversation between Prince Arjuna and Krishna, a mortal incarnation of the god Vishnu. Arjuna is worried about an upcoming battle for succession since he will be fighting against his kinsmen. In explaining why Arjuna should fight, Krishna goes over a wide variety of spiritual and religious topics relating to dharma, karma, spirituality, and the cycle of reincarnation.

The Gita is one of the most famous pieces of Hindu literature, and the lessons it teaches are central to that faith. As a cultural touchstone and a spiritual guide, it’s one of the most important ancient texts in the world. The translation and commentary by Eknath Easwaran help even those who aren’t learned in Hindu mythology to understand its teachings. While Buddhism and Hinduism are two separate belief systems, The Bhagavad Gita’s values do share many similarities with Buddhism.

Final Words

Now that you know what some of the best books on Buddhism are, are you ready to dive into the Buddhist mindset? These books will act as your guide on your new journey to find serenity and knowledge of Buddhist values.

Have you read any other books on Buddhism? Leave us your suggestions in the comments below!

The 10 Best Books on Buddhism for Beginners

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Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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