Here’s a list of my favorite dharma and recovery books. You can purchase them from Amazon through the links.
These two books are the foundations texts of all Twelve Step programs. My book, One Breath at a Time is something of a response to and commentary on these books.
- Alcoholics Anonymous – Big Book 4th Edition, the so-called “Big Book.” Anyone who is exploring recovery should read this book. Written in 1935, it still is the best description of the disease of addiction and the most successful program to deal with it.
- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, a commentary on the Steps and Traditions written by the founder of AA, Bill Wilson.
- “The Big Book Reference Manual” by Bill B. This defines key words in the Big Book and gives page references. A useful reference guide. Bill sells it for $4.50 to 12 Step members. Just email him at email@example.com
Recovery and Buddhism
These are the only other books (besides mine) I know of that directly address the connection between Buddhism and Recovery:
- The Zen of Recovery, by Mel Ash.
- Cool Water : Alcholism, Mindfulness, and Ordinary Recovery, by William Alexander, published by Shambhala. (Now called “Ordinary Recovery.”)
- 12 Steps on Buddha’s Path: Bill, Buddha, and We by “Laura S.” Published anonymously.
- Dharma Punx, by Noah Levine.
- Refuge Recovery, by Noah Levine. After accusations of sexual misconduct against Noah arose, the program he started has been riven with controversy. The book itself is still useful. The situations brings up one of the thorniest issues in spiritual circles: How much can we separate the teachings from the teacher?
- Eight Step Recovery, by Vimalasara (Valerie Mason-John) and Paramabandhu Grove. This is not 12 Step oriented, a different set of Steps. Supports a harm-reduction model and Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention.
- Recovery Dharma, published anonymously. This is the book written by some folks who left Refuge Recovery. They wanted to use a lot of the same principles, but divorce themselves from association Noah Levine’s work.
If you know of any other related books, let me know.
Here are a few of my favorite Buddhist books:
- Experience of Insight by Joseph Goldstein.
- Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom , by Joseph Goldstein.
- One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism , by Joseph Goldstein.
- A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life by Jack Kornfield.
- Living Dharma , by Jack Kornfield. Interviews with the great Theravadan mastes of the 20th century.
- Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation (Shambhala Classics) , by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield
- Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind , by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. A poetic, yet somehow practical guide to meditation and Zen philosophy. One the the real classics in contemporary Buddhist literature.
- Who is My Self?: A Guide to Buddhist Meditation , by Ayya Khema. Covers the deep meditation states called jhana with a great commentary on a Theravada sutta.
- Being Nobody, Going Nowhere, Revised: Meditations on the Buddhist Path , by Ayya Khema. Covers the 10 Perfections or Paramitas.
- Small Boat, Great Mountain, by Ajahn Amaro published through Abhayagiri Monastery.
- Breath by Breath: The Liberating Practice of Insight Meditation , by Larry Rosenberg. Great contempoary commentary on the Sutta on the Full Awareness of Breathing, one of the most important teachings on meditation practice.
- Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
- Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (Shambhala Classics) , by Sharon Salzberg
- Buddha’s Nature: A Practical Guide to Discovering Your Place in the Cosmos : A Practical Guide to Discovering Your Place in the Cosmos, by Wes “Scoop” Nisker
- Wide Awake: Buddhism for the New Generation, by Diana Winston. Written for young people, but a great intro to Buddhism for anyone.
- Pay Attention, for Goodness’ Sake: The Buddhist Path of Kindness , by Sylvia Boorstein. A practical and charming guide to the 10 Perfections.
- A Gradual Awakening , by Stephen Levine. A classic intro to Buddhist meditation.
- Thoughts Without A Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective by Mark Epstein. An important exploration of Buddhism from a western psychological perspective.
- What the Buddha Taught: Revised and Expanded Edition with Texts from Suttas and Dhammapada , by Walpola Rahula
- The Heart of Buddhist Meditation: Satipatthna: A Handbook of Mental Training Based on the Buddha’s Way of Mindfulness, , by Nyaponika Thera
- Buddhism without Beliefs, by Stephen Batchelor.
- Also, books by Thich Nhat Hanh and Pema Chodron.
Diversity in the Dharma
Issues around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are increasingly being highlighted in the Buddhist world. This is hopefully an corrective to the limits of what has been a largely white, middle-class community.
- Awakening Together: The Spiritual Practice of Inclusivity and Community
- Mindful of Race: Transforming Racism from the Inside Out
- Dharma, Color, and Culture: New Voices in Western Buddhism
- Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation
If you’re interested in studying the original Buddhist teachings, look at books by Bhikkhu Bodhi, a great contemporary translator and commentator. I find the most accessible one to be In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (Teachings of the Buddha)
The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya (Teachings of the Buddha Considered by many the most useful of the classic texts.
Also recommended by visitors to this site: