Hundreds—if not thousands—of books by Buddhist authors, meditation teachers, and mindfulness industry players pass through Tricycle’s New York City office every year.
And, the Tricycle staff vets them so you don’t have to!
Whether you have a practitioner on your holiday shopping list or you’d like to snuggle up with a thoughtful read before the end of the year, here are our favorite Buddhist books of the past 12 months:
There is perhaps no better-known champion of secular Buddhism than Stephen Batchelor, whose Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World is a collection of essays that together provide a broad survey of the growing movement Batchelor has done so much to advance. Following the 2015 publication of After Buddhism, which Batchelor considered the culmination of four decades of writing and practice, Secular Buddhism provides further reflections, old and new, that trace the trajectory of his thinking over the course of his career, from his case for agnosticism (and later, atheism) to his decision to leave more religiously oriented practices behind.
Yale University Press, $27.50
Why Buddhism Is True
It’s not often a Buddhist title finds itself on the New York Times bestseller list, but like Dan Harris (10% Happier) before him, Robert Wright earned a spot on the list (number four) this year with Why Buddhism Is True. Understanding the teachings in the light of evolutionary psychology, Wright brought a Buddhism to the mainstream that made contemporary sense. His piece garnered praise and blame far and wide, from Adam Gopnik’s piece in the New Yorker to repeat appearances in the New York Times.
Simon and Schuster, $27
—James Shaheen, Editor and Publisher
The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down
The great usefulness—and irony—of The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down is that its short teachings are the perfect length for fitting into a fast-paced life. The author, Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim, is a sensation in Korea best known for his active online presence. The bestseller was translated into English this year. It’s just the thing for a quick hit of dharma right after you wake up or before you go to sleep.
Penguin Books, $18
—Emma Varvaloucas, Executive Editor
In Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection, meditation teacher and Insight Meditation Society cofounder Sharon Salzberg has finally debunked the myth that you have to love yourself before you can be loved by another (and vice versa). Sharon isn’t writing about cupid’s arrow kind of love, but instead how true connection provides an opportunity to interact with our friends, family, community, and strangers on a deeper level. And, perhaps most importantly during our divided times, Sharon reminds us that love can be an antidote to fear.
Flatiron Books, $24.99
—Wendy Joan Biddlecombe, Web Editor
To Heal a Wounded Heart
In To Heal a Wounded Heart, psychoanalyst and Buddhist practitioner Pilar Jennings tells the story of treating her first patient, Martine, a traumatized and nearly mute 6-year-old girl, with the help of her friend Lama Palma, a Tibetan Buddhist monk. It’s an informed and fascinating book, and readers will likely come away with a deeper understanding of how both Buddhism and psychotherapy can work in tandem to facilitate well-being.
Shambhala Publications, $18.95
—Marie Scarles, Associate Editor
Imagine packing up a duffle with a handful of keepsakes and hightailing it to an isolated community in one of the harshest places on earth to practice unhindered introspection. This is what a certain brand of seekers has been doing since the late 1980s at Neot Smadar, a commune in the southern Israeli desert. If you’re carving out time for your own quiet reflection this holiday season, Ariel Glucklich, an American theologian and Israeli émigré, provides just the fix. Everyday Mysticism, a blend between a travel diary and a scholarly work, allows us to peek inside life at an eco-spiritual oasis in the Negev, where Buddhist and Hindu contemplative ideas are put into everyday practice.
Yale University Press, $45
—Julia Hirsch, Web & Online Learning Manager
The Monastery and the Microscope
The Monastery and the Microscope maps the incredible intersection of two systems of knowledge—Western science and Indo-Tibetan Buddhism—with depth and cohesion. Chapter by chapter, the reader is invited to sit in on engaging dialogues among His Holiness the Dalai Lama, leading Tibetan Buddhist scholars, and Western scientists as they examine what exactly we “know” about ourselves and our surroundings. Made succinct and accessible through skillful editing by Wendy Hasenkamp and Janna R. White, this book is perfect for enthusiastic students of Buddhist philosophy and science.
Yale University Press, $38
—Gabriel Lefferts, Editorial Assistant
Glimpse into the life of a 19th-century wandering yogi from Tibet with Enlightened Vagabond, Matthieu Ricard’s collection of stories from the life of Patrul Rinpoche. These simple yet profoundly encouraging stories are interspersed with heartfelt letters of poetry and instruction and serve as excellent inspiration for your own practice and study. These brief and often surprising episodes from Patrul Rinpoche’s life are a joy to read and hard to put down, and make for a very gentle page-turner.
Shambhala Publications, $24.95
—Danya Spencer, Web & Online Learning Assistant
Loving-Kindness in Plain English
Like its predecessor Mindfulness in Plain English, Bhante Gunaratana’s Loving-Kindness in Plain English is a charmingly simple book. This guide to metta practice includes historical and personal anecdotes from the beloved Sri Lankan teacher and founder of West Virginia’s Bhavana Society. As Gunaratana notes, listening itself can be metta practice. If you really listen to this book, it will move you.
Wisdom Publications, $17
—West Foster, Editorial Intern