A Basic Soto Zen Reading List
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Shambhala Press.
Written by the founder of San Francisco Zen Center, this book is considered a classic of Western Zen texts.
Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. HarperOne Publisher.
Another book of lectures by Suzuki Roshi.
Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Times of Shunryu Suzuki by David Chadwick. Three Rivers Press.
A wonderful and readable biography of Suzuki Roshi’s life. It is surprising and insightful.
To Shine One Corner of the World: Moments With Shunryu Suzuki by David Chadwick. Broadway Press.
David went around to students of Suzuki Roshi’s and asked them to tell him encounter stories with their teacher. These stories read like koans and are deeply penetrating.
Opening the Hand of Thought: Foundations of Zen Buddhist Practice by Kōshō Uchiyama Roshi, Wisdom Publications.
This book is translated by Shohaku Okumura, Uchiyama Roshi’s disciple and a great transmitter, teacher and practitioner of Dogen Zenji’s teachings in the United States. Uchiyama Roshi’s commentary has a down-to-earth way of telling it like it is and educating us in the Buddha Dharma along the way.
How to Cook Your Life: From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment, Eihei Dogen with commentary by Uchiyama Roshi. Shambhala Press.
An amazing text, out of print for awhile. It was originally published as Refining Your Life.
Dogen’s Genjo Koan: Three Commentaries, ed. by various people. Counterpoint Press.
A new book of three commentaries on Dogen’s Genjo Koan. Highly recommended, but not an easy book.
The Wholehearted Way, Eihei Dogen’s Bendowa commentary by Kosho Uchiyama Roshi. Tuttle Publishing
This is a good introduction to Dogen’s teachings.
The Art of Just Sitting: Essential Writings On the Zen Practice of Shikantaza edited by John Daido Loori. Wisdom Publications.
This is a collection of historical and contemporary writings on sitting zazen.
On Zen Practice: Body, Breath and Mind by Tazan Maezumi Roshi. Wisdom Publications
A very good introduction to Zen practice.
The Mind of Clover: Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics by Robert Aitken Roshi. North Point Press
Excellent book. All of Aitken Roshi’s books are outstanding.
Taking the Path of Zen by Robert Aitken Roshi. North Point Press
Everyday Zen: Love and Work by Charlotte Joko Beck Roshi. HarperOne Publisher
One of the best introductory books on Zen published.
What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula. Grove Press
This is not a book on Zen. But it is an excellent book on the Four Noble Truths, the Eight Fold Path and Buddha’s original teaching.
The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy and Liberation by Thich Nhat Hanh. Broadway Books.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen teacher in the Vietnamese tradition. Excellent book for an overall understanding of Mahayana Zen.
Buddhism Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen Broadway Books
Another really good introduction to basic Buddhism.
The Heart of Understanding by Thich Nhat Hanh Parallax Press
One of the best introductory books on the Doctrine of Emptiness or non-duality, this is a commentary on the Heart Sutra.
The Key: And the Name of the Key is Willingness by Cheri Huber. Keep It Simple Books
A wonderfully simple and insightful book on how to view the experiences of our life from a Buddhist perspective. In general, Cheri Huber’s books are quite helpful.
Links to other Resources
Koun Franz’s Blog Nyoho Zen (American Soto Zen Priest who trained and lives in Japan)
Soto Zen Text Project (Translations of Dogen’s writings)
DBK (pdf files of Mahayana Sutras and Nishijimi/Cross Shōbōgenzō)
The Zensite (An amazing resource for all things Zen)