top of page
Foggy Lake

Suggested Reading


Teachings of the Buddha

The Teaching of Buddha

Available at Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai.(BDK) in many languages. A concise, easy-to-read collection of Buddhist writings organized by topic for easy reference. This book is an excellent way to orient oneself within the tradition at large.

Book # 1.jpg

The Dhammapada

This is a classic Buddhist text containing some of the earliest teachings of the Buddha. The passages are often brief but meaning is quite deep, requiring continued reflection.

Book # 3.jpg

The Heart of Buddha's Teaching

Thich Nhat Hanh introduces us to the core teachings of Buddhism while also illustrating their relevance and applicability within our daily lives.

book # 5.jpg

Learning the Wisdom of Enlightenment

Written as a companion guidebook to “The Teaching of Buddha” which is an anthology of Buddhist teachings, available now in more than 40 languages by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK). This volume takes ancient passages from “The Teaching of Buddha” and explains them in an easy to understand and contemporary way.

book # 2.png

What the Buddha Taught

An excellent introduction to the Buddhist philosophies and worldview. The explanations are compact while still presenting a faithful account of the Buddha’s teachings.

Book # 4.jpg

Buddhism Today

Buddhism: Plain & Simple

The heart of Buddhist teachings is presented plain and simply, pared down to its essence and explained in everyday language. This best-selling book is the perfect guide to Buddhism for beginners.

Book # 6.jpg

Buddha in Your Backpack

This is a Buddhist guide book for young people who wish to understand both Buddhism and life more deeply. This is a book intended for the young but appreciated by all ages for its insight and authenticity.

book # 8.jpg


Tanaka’s style is always engaging, humorous and contemporary. He approach is always fresh. He also presents Buddhism in context rather than as mere glimpses, more firmly grounding his readers within the

Book # 10.png

Blue Jean Buddha

This book presents Buddhism as something lived through thirty-three first person narratives, illustrating how to navigate everyday life.

Book # 7.jpg

Be The Refuge

An excellent exploration of the two Buddhism found in America, one Asian and one Convert. Often our notions of authenticity are informed by ethnicity rather than by the teachings.

book # 9.jpg

Jodo Shinshu (Shin Buddhism)

The Essential Shinran

The life and teachings of Shinran Shonin, the founder of Shin Buddhism, is presented. Bloom draws extensively on the writings of this influential Japanese religious reformer

Book # 14.jpg

The Collected Works of Shinran

For serious students of Jodo Shinshu, this is indispensible. Volume 1 is the collection of Shinran Shonin’s writings while Volume 2 provides a very useful commentary. Best if they are both read in tandem. This is the doctrinal basis of the Shin tradition.

Book # 16.jpg

Ocean: An Introduction to Jodo-Shinshu Buddhism in America

This book is another classic, read and re-read by those who own it. It is a simple, down-to-earth
explanation of the Pure Land tradition laced with both humor and depth insights.

book # 18.jpg

Shin Buddhism: Bits of Rubble Turn into Gold

This book is a very accessible and easy to follow. It is much more linear in its presentation allowing it to be readily appreciated by all. A wonderful complement to River of Fire, River of Water.

Book # 20.jpg

Buddha of Infinite Light

DT Suzuki was a Zen practitioner and came to Shin Buddhism later in life. He saw in Shinran’s writing the flowering of Mahayana Buddhism. In his opinion, the ulitimate expression of this tradition.

Book # 22.jpg

Everyday Suchness

A classic collection of short articles first published in 1967, hailed as one of the most significant books in Buddhism because of its simple explanations and reference to everyday life.

Book # 25.jpg

Dharma Breeze

These essays are able to communicate Shin Buddhism in a way that resonate with Americans. Amida Buddha is presented within a uniquely Buddhist context enabling us to engage the Pure Land tradition in a more direct and authentic way.

Book # 27.jpg

Jodo Shinshu: Shin Buddhism in Medieval Japan

An engaging examination of Shin Buddhist history from its simple beginnings as a small,
rural primarily lay Buddhist movement in the 12th century to its rapid growth as a powerful urban religion in the 15th century.

Book # 15.jpg

Jodo Shinshu: A Guide

This book was published by the Hongwanji, the HQ of the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, with the intention that readers can learn the basics, such as teaching, history and rituals. It is a good book for those who are new to Jodo Shinshu Buddhism.

Book # 17.jpg

River of Fire, River of Water

This book presents the spiritual depth of Shin Buddhism often in poetic form. This book transmits feelings and emotions rather than objective philosophies. It is language on the edge of meaning.

book # 19.jpg

Buddhism of the Heart

Jeff Wilson started his walk on the Buddha's path as a Zen practitioner but rather than freeing him from his suffering, he found those practices made him nothing short of insufferable. And so he turned to Shin Buddhism and a path of self acceptance.

Book # 21.jpg

Moving Forward Just as You Are

Monshu Kojun Ohtani, the 25th Head Priest of Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, shares the teaching of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism with a lot of encouraging words and good examples that are family to many of us.

Book # 24.jpg

The Heart of the Buddha Dharma

A brief introduction to the basics of Buddhism taken from 40-years of Dharma messages, pamphlets and temple newsletter columns written by respected BCA minister and former BCA Bishop, the late Rev. Kenryu T. Tsuji, the first Japanese American Bishop of the Buddhist Churches of America (1968-1981). Available through Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (BDK)

Book # 26.jpg


An Introduction to Buddhism

This is a comprehensive introduction to the development of the Buddhist tradition in both Asia and the West. Harvey corrects some common misconceptions and provides an excellent overview of Buddhism and its beliefs

book # 11.jpg

Zen Mind Beginner's Mind

There are a handful of books that qualify as American Buddhist classics. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind is one of them. Shunryu Suzuki refers to himself as the "Little Suzuki" in deference to DT Suzuki, but he is also a
giant in his own right. This book is a short one and can be read quickly but its depth requires long periods of reflection to be appreciated fully.


A Concise History of Buddhism

This is an excellent survey of the Buddhist tradition. It is easy to read while still presenting a well-balanced and nuanced timeline of the historical development of Buddhism.

book # 12.jpg
Buddhism for Kids

The following picture books are very flexible. Their dharma message(s) can be interpreted at many levels of complexity, from simple enjoyment for little ones to “aha” moments and reflective conversation for older ones. They reveal the dharma as real and relevant in our lives.

Grasshopper on the Road

The Teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha:  Eightfold Path & Buddhism Today 

On his walk, Grasshopper encounters several characters that are intensely involved in their respective activities. The beetles fanatically worship morning; the housefly obsessively sweeps dirt, the butterflies stubbornly insist on their rights to a mushroom seat. With tongue in cheek, Lobel shows us how opinions and beliefs dictate our lives. This fun picture book is appropriate for middle school.


It's Mine

Jodo Shinshu (Shin) Buddhism: The Three Poisons & Buddhism Today 

Three frogs spend their days bickering and baiting each other. It's mine, claims one about the water; another claims ownership of the earth. This goes on until one day, a thunder storm strikes, and they are saved by a toad. Only then do Milton, Rupert and Lydia realize that ownership over such matters is not important. This simple fable is just right for primary age children to illustrate the fact that to cooperate and share is to be happy.

its mine.jpeg

The Giving Tree

Shakyamuni Buddha: Amida Buddha’s Wisdom and Compassion

Jodo Shinshu (Shin) Buddhism: Shinran Shonin: Three Poisons

Buddhism Today: My understanding of Amida and its relevance in my life

This story is about an apple tree that loves a boy. She is happy when the little boy enjoys her apples, when he rests in her shade, even when he cuts her trunk down to make a boat. She gives and gives, regardless of his uses of her. This story can be interpreted at several levels of thought. For little ones, it is a simple story about the apple tree’s unconditional love. Then again, when the boy’s perception of the tree is questioned, it opens a whole new layer of thought and understanding.


Hey, Little Ant

The Teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha:  Wisdom and Compassion

A delightful book on tolerance and compassion, explored through a conversation between and kid and an ant. The kid is ready to step on the ant, when the ant suddenly speaks up and gives its point of view on life and living. The story is the lyrics to a song by the same title. A good conversation starter for elementary school children.


Each Kindness

The Teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha: Wisdom and Compassion, Right View, Right Thought, Right Conduct: Karmic effects of perception & Buddhism Today


This is an honest, sensitive story about a friendship that could have been. When Maya, the new girl in class, makes overtures to Chloe and her friends to play, they ignore her because, well, she’s different, kind of shabby. Then one day, Maya does not come to school, the day Ms. Albert gives a lesson on kindness. Chloe learns something and wants to make amends with Maya, but Maya does not return


What Color is the Wing?

Shakyamuni Buddha: Amida Buddha:

Jodo Shinshu (Shin) Buddhism: Shinran Shonin: Importance of meeting Amida

Buddhism Today: Amida and me. How do I see Amida?

A beautiful book to the touch; a gentle lesson on wisdom and compassion. A blind child takes a walk in search of the wind and its color. The wolf says it’s “the dark smell of the forest.” The bees buzz, “it’s the color of sunshine.” The mountain sighs, “It’s blue.” He gets a different answer from everything he asks. He then encounters a person from whom he finally learns how to see the color of the wind. A picture book also appropriate for teens as a segue to a thoughtful exploration of how to see Amida.


Like the word love, Amida Buddha is an elusive concept, difficult to define in concrete terms because it isn’t a person, place or thing. Here are two books that can be read as allegories to the meaning of Amida’s Compassion and Amida’s presence in our life.

Teachings of the Buddha
Buddhism Today
Jodo Shinshu Buddhism
Buddhism for Kids
bottom of page