Bhikkhu Anālayo: Developments in Buddhist Meditation Traditions. The Interplay Between Theory & Practice, Barre Center for Buddhist Studies: Barre, Massachusetts, 2022. Pdf available here.

This is a great, scholarly book for those who are curious to learn about how certain contemporary Buddhist teachings and practices have evolved from the earliest texts up to the present time. Among other things Bhikkhu Anālayo traces back in detail the notion of the intrinsic luminosity of the mind to an early fascination with fire and light, he shows how practices of focusing exclusively on the breath resulted from a gradual loss and reduction of what used to be a comprehensive practice of mindfulness of breathing and discusses how right concentration came to be identified with the four absorptions. The book not only demonstrates the dynamic, changing nature of Buddhist teachings over the centuries, shaped by a continuous interplay between texts and practice, it also helps practitioners to understand the variety of Buddhist teachings in their bigger, historical context. /YN


Christoph KockAjahn Jayasaro: Stillness Flowing – The Life and Teachings of Ajahn Chah, Panyaprateep Foundation, 2017. Available as pdf here.

I will recommend this book which I am reading currently and enjoying a lot. /CK



Christina FeldmanAlice Collett: I Hear Her Words: An Introduction to Women in Buddhism, Windhorse Publications, 2021

A wonderful book on the history of women in Buddhism. /CF



Stephen BatchelorRuth Ozeki: The Book of Form and Emptiness. London: Canongate, 2022

Winner of this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, written by a Zen Buddhist priest, this playful and poignant novel is a sustained meditation on Dogen’s saying: “To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things.” /SB

Benjamín Labatut. When We Cease to Understand the World, New York: New York Review Books, 2020

An extraordinary book about key scientists of the last century and their journeys of discovery that hovers between fiction and non-fiction. /SB

Hervé le Tellier: The Anomaly. London: Penguin, 2022

A prize winning French novel that is both a compelling thriller and a challenge to our very ideas of space, time and personal identity. /SB

Kei Hiruta: Hannah Arendt and Isaiah Berlin: Freedom, Politics and Humanity. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2021

A highly readable study of these two seminal thinkers, who grappled with the same question of human freedom in radically different ways. /SB


Martine BatchelorAi Weiwei: 1000 Years of Joy and Sorrows, Penguin Random House, 2021

Great example of resilience, creativity and the core value of deep questioning. /MB


Marlen Haushofer: The Wall, Vintage Publishing, 1963

Amazing book, incredibly prophetic, about resilience, solitude and creatively making do. /MB


John PeacockArnold Kozak: The Buddha Was a Psychologist: A Rational Approach to Buddhist Teaching, Lexington Books, 2021

Arnold Kozak is a psychiatrist and he uses his psychological expertise to examine the Buddha’s teachings from this perspective. His conclusion is that the Buddha both anticipates many contemporary understandings within psychological science, but also offers considerable material for contemporary.  investigation. He argues that when we strip away the religious dogma surrounding these teachings we find something of direct relevance to us in the 21st century. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a more secularized approach to Buddhist thought and practice. /JP

Karunadasa: The Theravāda Abhidhamma: Inquiry into the Nature of Conditioned Reality, Wisdom Books, 2017

I am always on the look-out for books on the Abhidhamma that have something to say rather than simply repeating the lists found in the Canonical Texts. Karunadasa’s book is one of the best that I have come across and is an in-depth investigation into the psychology, ethics and metaphysics of the Abhidhamma system. Of primary importance to the Abhidhamma approach is ethics and this is often forgotten, with a rather obsessional concentration of the lists. That the Abhidhamma is primarily an ethical psychology is made abundantly clear in this work. This will be of interest to anyone who wants to investigate the ethical side of the Buddha’s teaching rather than just the contemplative. /JP

Maurice Hamington & Ce Rosenow: Care Ethics and Poetry, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019

This is an intriguing and thought provoking book that focuses on a fairly recent outgrowth of feminism – feminist care ethics. This book addresses the relationship between poetry as performance and care. The authors argue that poetry is one way, not the only way, of awakening  imagination and creativity in relationship to moral and ethical concerns. The outgrowth of such an approach leads to the centrality of care as the primary ethical relationship both with regard to others and the environment. To quote the back of the book: “Engaging poetry … can contribute to the habits necessary for a robust moral life – specifically caring. Whilst this is not a work that mentions Buddhist approaches the tenor of this work is entirely in congruence with approaches within the Dharma. /JP

Wittgenstein and the Creativity of Language, Edited by Sebastian Sunday Gréve & Jakub Mácha, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016

This is a book that may be of interest to anyone who is intrigued by the possibilities of language rather than seeing language as an obstruction to our access to the world. This is a collection of essays that focuses on language’s creative potential via an examination of the thought of the Austrian philosopher Wittgenstein. The book is a challenge particularly to those within the Buddhist world, both historically and contemporaneously who view language negatively. In many ways this work is related in some respects to the previous recommendation, in that greater creativity and imaginative engagement with language can lead to creative ethical thinking. Literature and poetry, this is not something that is argued for, lead to an imaginative widening of horizons in regard to possibilities of being that are not available through engagement with Buddhist texts. If you like a challenge to entrenched thinking around language this is a work you should find stimulating. /JP