Although reading about the Dharma is no substitute for practicing it, a good book on Zen or Buddhism can set you on the course of practice or, when you feel stalled, kick-start it. The following list is not meant to be comprehensive; there are just too many good books on Zen and Buddhism, with more published every year. But this offers a sampling of some of our current favorites. In bold print are those we see as particularly helpful.
Title Author/Translator Comment

Contemporary Zen Teachings

Illuminating Silence: Insights on the Path of Chinese Zen Chinese Zen master Sheng-yen  
The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics Robert Aitken, Roshi  
Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice Kosho Uchiyama, Roshi  
Sweeping Changes: Discovering the Joy of Zen in Everyday Tasks Gary Thorp  
Taking the Path of Zen Robert Aitken, Roshi  
The Three Pillars of Zen Philip Kapleau, Roshi *
The Way of Korean Zen Master Kusan Sunim (Martine Batchelor, tr.)  
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi  
Zen: Merging of East and West Philip Kapleau, Roshi *
Zen: Tradition and Transition Kenneth Kraft  

Introduction to General Buddhism

Buddha Karen Armstrong *
Buddhism: A Concise Introduction Huston Smith & Philip Novak *
Buddhism: A Way of Life and Thought Nancy Wilson Ross  
Dhammapada Eknath Easwaran, tr.  
What the Buddha Taught Walpola Rahula, tr.  

Zen Teaching Classics

Dream Conversations on Buddhism and Zen 14th-century Japaneses Zen master Muso Kokushi (Thomas Cleary, tr.)  
The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Hakuin 18th-century Japanese Zen master (Norman Waddell, tr.)  
The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women Zenshin Florence Caplow and Reigetsu Susan Moon  
How to Cook Your Life: From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment Eihei Dogen & Kosho Uchiyama (Thomas Wright, tr.)  
Instant Zen: Waking Up in the Present 12th-century Chinese Zen master Foyan (Thomas Cleary, tr.)  
Mud and Water: The Collected Teachings of Zen Master Bassui Arthur Braverman, tr. Japanese, 14th-century
The Original Face: An Anthology of Rinzai Zen Thomas Cleary, tr. Japanese masters
Swampland Flowers: The Letters and Lectures of Zen Master Ta Hui Christopher Cleary, tr. Chinese, 12th-century
Tracing Back the Radiance: Chinul’s Korean Way of Zen Robert E. Buswell, Jr., tr. 12th-century father of Korean Zen
The Unborn: The Life and Teachings of Zen Master Bankei Norman Wadell, tr. Japanese, 17th-century
Zen Essence: The Science of Freedom Thomas Cleary, tr. and ed. Chinese Zen masters of the Tang and Sung dynasties
Zen Letters: Teachings of Yuanwu J.C. Clearly & Thomas Cleary, tr. 12th-century Chinese
The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma Red Pine, tr. the Indian-born Founder of Zen
The Zen Teaching of Huang Po on the Transmission of Mind John Blofeld, tr. 9th-century Chinese Zen master
Zen’s Chinese Heritage: The Masters and Their Teachings Andy Ferguson, tr. a Tang Dynasty hall of fame

Other Non-Zen Buddhist Teachings

Being Dharma: The Essence of the Buddha’s Teaching Ajahn Chah Theravada Buddhism
Dhammapada Eknath Easwaran, tr. pre-Zen Buddhism
Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master Amy Smidt Indian woman master
Faces of Compassion: Classic Bodhisattva Archetypes and Their Modern Expression Taigen Dan Leighton & Joan Halifax Mahayana Buddhism
Fundamentals of Buddhist Ethics Gunapala Dharmasiri Theravada Buddhism
Mindfulness in Plain English Bhante Gunaratana Theravada Buddhism
When Things Fall Apart Pema Chödrön * Tibetan Buddhism