Best Buddhist Books for Beginners: My Top 8 Picks

best buddhist books - Image via Edward Dalmulder on Flickr

Photo: © Edward Dalmulder on flickr


If you’re new to Buddhism and trying to find the best Buddhist book for a beginner, you might be overwhelmed by the amount of books available. To make life easier for you, I’ve compiled a list of my top 8 picks that I recommend for beginners. Some of them are great at explaining the basics of Buddhist theory, while others are better at capturing the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. Either way, they are all fantastic books and you are sure to gain something from any one of them.


How to Practice Buddhism in Daily Life: Mini Loving-Kindness & Compassion Exercise


As our lives get busier and we seem to be more time-poor, it has become even more crucial to find ways to easily apply the Buddhist teachings to our everyday activities. Practicing Buddhism in our daily life doesn’t have to be restricted to just meditating on a cushion; there are many ways we can incorporate the practices into our daily actions.

In this video I share with you a simple and easy practice of loving-kindness and compassion that we can do any time, irrespective of the activity we’re engaged in.


The Allure of Meditation Retreats

Tenzin Palmo’s newly renovated cave in the Himalayas © Tsunma Kalden

Tenzin Palmo’s newly renovated cave in the Himalayas © Tsunma Kalden

Most Dharma centers these days offer people the chance to deepen their meditation practice by offering retreats, anywhere from one day to a few months in duration. For many of us, even to take one day out of our lives to attend a retreat can be difficult, but the benefits are lasting and well worth making the effort to attend.

When I first started practicing meditation, I originally started with just 10-20 minutes a day; slowly working my way up to one-hour sessions. As I continued to read and became more inspired, I began doing semi-retreats at home on the weekend. I would practice noble silence and do up to seven hours meditation on the Saturday (breaking up my sessions with 45 minutes Shamatha meditation and 15 minutes walking meditation). Then on the Sunday I would attend my local center’s Sunday morning session and come home and do more practice.

No Self, Selflessness (Anatta/Anatman) & the Five Aggregates

The concept of no self or selflessness (also known as anatta or anatman in Buddhism) can sometimes be confusing. If there is no self, then who or what is experiencing our present reality? The Buddha taught that there are five aggregates that constitute a living being; however, to solely identify with these is to rob ourselves of knowing our true nature which isn’t defined by these five phenomena.

In this video, I explain in detail what these five aggregates (khandhas or skandhas) are and how the Buddha’s teachings of no self serves as a liberating reminder that our thoughts, feelings and perceptions are not to be taken so seriously; that instead there is a way to live in this world with a greater lightness of being.

Do Animals Have Feelings and Emotions?

Via Jonathan Moreau on flickr

Photo: Jonathan Moreau on flickr

In Buddhism, it is said that all sentient beings are ones who can perceive and feel, which raises the question whether animals are conscious and experience feelings and emotions like we do. For those of us with pets, like cats or dogs, it may be easy to see that these types of animals experience similar emotions to us like happiness, sadness and even jealousy and pain. However, since most of us haven’t grown up with farm animals (the kind most likely raised for the meat industry), it’s understandable that we might not have considered whether these animals are also capable of exhibiting emotions.