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thezensite:zen
books reviewed
Book reviews are alphabetical order by title. Contributions are most welcome. If you wish to contribute, please contact me. Reading suggestions? Try thezensite Zen books reading list is here. Note: thezensite receives a small contribution from Amazon when books (or any items) are purchased by clicking through thezensite.
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thezensite Book Selection of the Month

Buy this book from Amazon

read the book review here


American Buddhism: Methods and Findings in Recent Scholarship*
edited by D.R. Williams and C.S.Queen
reviewed by Martin Baumann  buy this book

Answer Your Love Letters
by Adam Genkaku Fisher
reviewed by Reverend Fa Dao Shakya

The Art of Just Sitting*
by John Daido Loori (ed)
reviewed by Vladimir K.
buy this book

Awakening of the West: The Encounter of Buddhism and Western Culture   by Stephen Batchelor  buy this book
reviewed by Adriano Lanza

Big Sky Mind: Buddhism and the Beat Generation*. Edited by Carole Tonkinson, with Introduction by Stephen Prothero
reviewed by Richard Hughes Seager  buy this book

The Book of Enlightened Masters: Western Teachers in Eastern Traditions *
By Andrew Rawlinson reviewed by David Kinsley buy this book

Buddha Recognizes Buddha
by Daishin Moran
reviewed by Vladimir K
buy this book

The Buddhists in Australia
by Enid Adam & Philip J Hughes
Buddhism in Western Australia
by Enid Adam
reviewed by Helen Waterhouse
from: Journal of Buddhist Ethics Vol.3 1996

Buddhism and Christianity: a multicultural history of their dialogue
by Whalen Lai and Michael von Bruck
reviewed by David Loy
from: Buddhist-Christian Studies 23 (2003) buy this book

Buddhism in a Foreign Land
by Robert Mann  buy this book now
reviewed by Amadeo Solé-Leris
This book is a collection of Dharma talks by the Theravadin teacher Robert Mann of The House of Inner Tranquility in Wiltshire, England. from Journal of Buddhist Ethics, Vol.3 1996

Buddhism Without Beliefs: a contempory guide to awakening
by Stephen Batchelor
reviewed by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
“…an intelligent and eloquent attempt to articulate the premises of the emerging secular Buddhism and define the parameters of a dharma practice appropriate to the new situation.”  buy this book

reviewed by Urgyen Sangharakshita
"Though there is much in Batchelor's book that I find unacceptable and which I deplore, fortunately there is also much that is acceptable to me and in which I can rejoice."
A Critique of “Buddhism Without Beliefs”
A critical look at Steve Batchelor's book by Punnadhammo Bhikkhu

Buddhist Phenomenology: A Philosophical Investigation of Yogacara Buddhism and the Ch'eng Wei-shih Lun by Dan Lusthaus
reviewed by Charles Muller

Buddhist Philosophy: essential readings
by William Edelglass, Jay L. Garfield
reviewed by Eric S. Nelson

Buddhist Sutras: Origin, Development, Transmission by Kogen Mizuno
reviewed by Vladimir K. buy this book

Cave Of Tigers: Modern Zen Encounters*
by John Daido Loori
reviewed by Vladimir K. buy this book

The Ceasing of Notions: an early Zen text from the Dunhuang caves with selected comments
Commentary by Soko Morinaga Roshi
reviewed by Vladimir K         buy this book

Crooked Cucumber: The Life and Teachings of Shunryu Suzuki
by David Chadwick   buy this book
This link will take you to a site dedicated to Suzuki. Includes reviews, interviews, biography and a whole lot of other stuff. Too bad the site is so ugly. There's a review of this book by Eddy Street here.

Cultural Intersections in Later Chinese Buddhism Marsha Weidner, ed.
buy ths book
reviewed by John R McRae
source: H-Buddhism, H-Net Reviews, March, 2003

A Day in the Life: Two Recent Works on Dogen's Shōbōgenzō Gyoji [Sustained Practice] Fascicle
Heine reviews 2 books on this, Ishi Shudo's Shobogenzo [Gyoji] ni manabu and Yasuraoka Kosaku's Shobogenzo [Gyoji] jo from Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 35/2: 363-371

Dipa Ma-The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master*
by Amy Schmidt
reviewed by Lindsay K.   Buy this book

Dogen and the Koan Tradition: A Tale of Two Shõbõgenzõ Texts
by Steven Heine; reviewed by Joseph S. O'Leary
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 21/1  buy this book

Dogen's Genjo Koan: Three Commentaries*
by Mel Weitsman, Michael Wenger, Shohaku Okumura
reviewed by Vladimir K. buy this book

Dogen's Manuals of Zen Meditation
by Carl Bielefeldt
reviewed by Ryuichi Abe   buy this book

Dream Conversations on Buddhism and Zen by Muso Kokushi
translated and edited by Thomas Cleary
reviewed by Fred H Martinson
from: Journal of Chinese Philosophy 22:1 1995.03 PP.99-101

Eihei Dōgen – Mystical Realist
Revised, 3rd edition, by Hee-jin Kim
reviewed by M. T. Jarvis
from Journal of Buddhist Ethics

The Eminent Monk: Buddhist Ideals in Medieval Chinese Hagiography
by John Kieschnick
A brief review by Eric Reinders, Journal of Buddhist Ethics, Volume 5 1998
reviewed by Robert Ford Campany   buy this book

Emptiness Appraised: a critical study of Nagarjuna's philosophy
by David F. Burton
reviewed by William Edelglass    buy this book

The Emptiness of Emptiness: An introduction to Early Indian Madhyamika
by C. W. Huntington, Jr
reviewed by Frederivk J. Streng buy this book

Entangling Vines: Zen Koans of the Shūmon Kattōshū
by Thomas Yūhō Kirchner
reviewed by Taigen Dan Leighton, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 33/1 (2006) buy this book

Fire Monks: Zen Mind Meets Wildfire at the Gates of Tassajara
by Colleen Morton Busch
reviewed by Vladimir K buy this book

The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way:
Nagarjuna's Mulamadhyamakakarika

by Jay L. Garfield
reviewed by Mark Siderits   buy this book

The Golden Age of Zen: Zen Masters of the T'ang Dynasty by John C. Wu,
with an Introduction by Thomas Merton   buy this book
reviewed by Frank J Hoffman

Great Fool: Zen Master: Ryõkan, Poems, Letters, and Other Writings
by Ryoichi Abé and Peter Haskel
reviewed by Burton Watson from Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 24/1-2
Buy this book

Healing Deconstruction: Postmodern Thought in Buddhism and Christianity
edited by David Loy     buy this book
reviewed by Mark D. Wood


How the Swans Came to the Lake*
by Rick Fields   buy this book
reviewed by Vladimir K.

If You're Lucky, Your Heart Will Break: Field Notes from a Zen Life*
by James Ishmael Ford
reviewed by Vladimir K

Imperial-Way Zen: Ichikawa Hakugen's Critique and Lingering Questions for Buddhist Ethics
by Christopher Ives.
reviewed by Douglas Ober
from: Journal of Buddhist Ethics; Vol 19, 2012

In Defense of Dharma:Just-War Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka
by Tessa J. Bartholomeusz
reviewed by Eric Sean Nelson  buy this book

*Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master's Lessons in Living a Life That Matters
by Bernard Glassman & Rick Fields     buy this book
reviewed by Duncan R. Williams

Inquiry into the Origin of Humanity: An Annotated Translation of Tsung-mi's Yuan-jen lun with a Modern Commentary *
by Peter N. Gregory   
reviewed by Albert Welter
from: Philosophy East & West V. 48 No. 1 January 1998
buy this book

Is Zen Buddhism?
David R. Loy. Although not strictly a book review, rather an essay, Loy discusses Winston L. King's “Zen and the Way of the Sword: Arming the Samurai Psyche” and other writings about Japanese  Zen and the bushido spirit, war and killing---some of the areas covered in Zen at War. The Eastern Buddhist, Vol. 28, No. 2, Autumn, 1995

Journeys into Emptiness: Dogen, Merton, Jung and the Quest for Transformation*
By Robert Jingen Gunn
reviewed by Harold Coward
from: Buddhist-Christian Studies 23, 2003
buy this book

The Koan: Texts and Contexts In Zen Buddhism*
edited by Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright
reviewed by Eric Sean Nelson buy this book

Land of No Buddha: reflections of a sceptical buddhist
by Richard P Hayes
reviewed by Vladimir K.
reviewed by Martin Baumann


Letting Go: The Story of Zen Master Tosui*
by Peter Haskel; reviewed by David E Riggs
originally published in Philosophy East and West, Honolulu: Jan 2005, Vol. 55, Iss. 1     buy this book

The Linji lu and the Creation of Chan Orthodoxy: the Development of Chan's Records of Sayings Literature. *
by Albert Welter; reviewed by Stuart Young (St. Lawrence University)
originally published H-Buddhism (March, 2009) buy this book

Living with the Devil: a Meditation on Good and Evil
by Stephen Batchelor reviewed by Vladimir K.

Madhyamika Thought in China by Ming-Wood Liu
reviewed by Whalen Lai
Philosophy East & West

Making Zen Your Own: Giving Life to Twelve Key Golden Age Ancestors*
by Janet Jiruyu Abels
reviewed by Vladimir K. buy this book

Master Dogen's Shinji Shobogenzo: 301 Koan Stories* by Gudo Nishijima; reviewed by Vladimir K. buy this book

Mindfullness in the Marketplace: Compassionate Response to Consumerism* by Allen Badiner (ed)
reviewed by Eric Sean Nelson   buy this book

The New Buddhism: The Western Transformation of an Ancient Tradition* by James William Coleman    reviewed by Vladimir K.   buy this book

Nagarjuna's Seventy Stanzas: A  Buddhist  Psychology  of Emptiness
by David Ross Komito; reviewed by Karen Lang
Philosophy East & West Vol. 40 No.2, 1990.Apr

Nargarjuna’s Twelve Gate Treatise: translated, with Introductory Essays, Comments, and Notes* by Hsueh-Li Cheng
reviewed by Alan Fox
buy this book from Amazon

Not Always So: practicing the true spirit of Zen
by Shunryo Suzuki; reviewed by Vladimir K. buy this book

Of Heretics and Martyrs in Meiji Japan: Buddhism and Its Persecution* by James Edward Ketelaar
reviewed by Jacqueline Stone, Princeton University
Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 53, No. 2. (Dec., 1993), pp. 582-598  buy this book
A lengthy, interesting review. If you are interested in this topic, I recommend reading Robert H. Sharf: The Zen of Japanese Nationalism

The Old Tea Seller: Baisao; Life and Zen Poetry in 18th Century Kyoto
by Norman Waddell reviewed by Vladimir K.   buy this book

Opening a Mountain: Koans of the Zen Masters
by Steven Heine
reviewed by Eric Sean Nelson
reviewed by Dale S Wright;from Philosophy East and West. Honolulu: Jan 2006. Vol. 56, Iss. 1 buy this book

Original Dwelling Place:Zen Essays
by Robert Aitken; reviewed by Robert E Goss
Buddhist-Christian Studies 19.1 (1999) 212-215  buy this book

The Origins of Buddhist Monastic Codes in China: An Annotated Translation and Study of the Chanyuan qinggui by Yifa; reviewed by Jiang Wu
from: The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol 2, Issue 3, Aug. 2003  buy this book

Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism by Dale S. Wright reviewed by Whalen Lai originally published in Philosophy East & West Vol. 50 No. 4 Oct. 2000 As "philosophical meditations" on the Zen of Huang Po, ... is an impressive work... for it shows how far Zen studies in America have moved ahead since the days of D. T. Suzuki and Alan Watts."
See also Steven Heine's review of this book. Heine states “One of the last great books [on Zen Buddhism] of the century is Dale Wright's critical philosophical meditations on Huang Po's texts and on Blofeld's inspiring yet problematic translation/interpretation.”
also reviewed by Joseph S. O'Leary
buy this book

Philosophers of Nothingness: An Essay on the Kyoto School

by James W. Heisig, reviewed by Joseph S. O’Leary, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 29/1–2 buy this book
Re-inventing the Wheel: A Buddhist Response to the Information Age by Peter D. Hershock
reviewed by Michael G. Barnhart

The Practice of Perfection: The Paramitas from a Zen Buddhist Perspective* by Robert Aitken
reviewed by Larry Smith
Parabola, Vol. 23 No.4, Nov 1998    buy this book

Realizing Genjokoan: The Key to Dogen's Shobogenzo*
by Shohaku Okumura
reviewed by Vladimir K. buy this book

The Rhetoric of Immediacy: A Cultural Critique of Chan/Zen Buddhism
by Bernard Faure
reviewed by Stephen F Teiser
from: The Journal of Religion, Vol. 74, No. 1. (Jan., 1994)
buy this book

Secrets of the Blue Cliff Record: Zen Comments by Hakuin and Tenkei by Thomas Cleary
reviewed by Vladimir K. buy this book

Seeing Through Zen by John R. McRae  buy this book
reviewed by Vladimir K.
reviewed by George A Keyworth;
Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol 4, Issue 1, March, 2006
reviewed by Albert Welter
Philosophy East and West 56.2 (April 2006): p355 (4)
reviewed by Peter Hershock, H-Net Reviews

Sex, Sin and Buddhism:A Buddhist Exploration of Sex from Celibacy to Polyamory and Everything in Between by Brad Warner
reviewed by Bhikkhu Cintita Dinsmore
Not so much a review of Warner's book but an exposition on the concept of sin in Buddhism.
original source

Shoes Outside the Door: Desire, Devotion, and Excess at San Francisco Zen Center by Michael Downing
reviewed by Vladimir K. buy this book

Shots in the Dark: Japan, Zen and the West by Shoji Yamada
reviewed by Victor Sōgen Hori
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 37/1, 2010 buy this book

The World is Made of Stories
by David R Loy reviewed by Vladimir K buy this book

The Teachings of Master Wuzhu: Zen and Religion of No-Religion*
by Wendi L. Adamek
reviewed by Vladimir K.

Tsung Mi and the Sinification of Buddhism*
by Peter N. Gregory
reviewed by T Griffith Foulk
originally published in The Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol.114 No.3July-Sep 1994 pp.487-4891   buy this book

Three New Buddhist Reference Works: The Soka Gakkai Dictionary of Buddhism; A Concise Encyclopedia of Buddhism; A Dictionary of Buddhism
reviewed by Charles Muller

Tracking Bodhidharma: a journey into the heart of Chinese culture*
by Andy Ferguson
reviewed by Vladimir K

Westward Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Asia
edited by Charles S. Prebish, and Martin Baumann
reviewed by Kay Koppedrayer from Journal of Global Buddhism Vol 4, 2003 buy this book

The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott by Stephen Prothero, reviewed by Matthew Mulligan Goldstein, reviewed by Gananath Obeyesekere;     buy this book

The Whole Heart of Zen: The Complete Teachings from the Oral Tradition of Ta-Mo*
by Sifu John Bright-Fey     buy this book
reviewed by Ned Mudd

This Truth Never Fails: a Zen memoir in four seasons
by David Rynick
reviewed by Vladimir K      buy this book

Wild Geese: Buddhism in Canada
edited by John S Harding, Victor Sogen Hori, Alexander Soucy
reviewed by Jeff Willson
from: Journal of Global Buddhism, 2011
Buy this book

The Will to Orthodoxy: A Critical Genealogy of Northern Chan Buddhism by Bernard Faure    buy this book
reviewed by Jeffrey Dippmann
reviewed by Franz Aubrey Metcalf
reviewed by Joseph McKeon

Zen and the Art of Postmodern Philosophy: Two Paths of Liberation from the Representational Mode of Thinking
by Carl Olson
Reviewed by Robert Magliola
from: Buddhist-Christian Studies 24, 2004
buy this book now

Zen Buddhism and Environmental Ethics*
by Simon P James;
reviewed by Eric Sean Nelson   buy this book

Zen Buddhism: A History by Heinrich Dumoulin
reviewed by John Jorgensen    buy this book
a lengthy, in-depth review of Dumoulin's opus from
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 1991 18/4

The Zen Canon: Understanding the Classic Texts*
edited by Steven Heine & Dale S. Wright
reviewed by Vladimir K. buy this book linnk

Zen Enlightenment: Origins and Meaning
By Heinrich Dumoulin
reviewed by Vladimir K.

Zen Explained by Richard Hathaway
reviewed by Sandy Dance

Zen Keys: a guide to Zen Practice* by Thich Nhat Hanh
reviewed by Frank J Hoffman  buy this book

Zen Koans: recent works on the Zen koan
:
Opening A Mountain: Kōans Of The Zen Masters by Steven Heine
Kōan: Texts And Contexts In Zen Buddhism edited by Steven Heine and Dale S. Wright
reviewed by Eric Sean Nelson
from: Buddhist-Christian Studies 24.1 (2004)

Zen Masters of Japan: The Second Step East *
Richard Bryan McDaniel
reviewed by Vladimir K buy this book

Zen at War* by Brian Daizen A. Victoria  buy this book

reviewed by Vladimir K.
reviewed by Fabio Rambelli
another review byJosh Baran
another review by David Loy
A debate about this book by some of Deshimaru's sangha and Brian Victoria is here. (This debate has been removed from the Deshimaru site and is no longer available.)
Jiun Kubota, who calls himself The 3rd Patriarch of the Religious Foundation Sanbo-kyodan offered an apology for Haku'un Yasutani Roshi's support of WWII and his anti-semitism but this has been removed from their website.
Kemmyō Taira Satō: D. T. Suzuki and the Question of War contradicts many of Victoria's assertions about D T Suzuki.

Zen War Stories by Brian (Daizen) A. Victoria
reviewed by David Loy. This is a follow-up to Victoria's Zen at War (reviewed above). buy this book

see also Victoria's article Engaged Buddhism: a Skeleton in the Closet?
see also review by Professor Eric Sean Nelson
see also NYTimes article by Allan M. Jalon

Zen Past and Present by Eric Cunningham
A (very) short history of Zen aimed at the student market
reviewed by Vladimir K. buy this book

Zen Pivots by Sokei-An
reviewed by Vladimir K.    buy this book

The Zen Poetry of Dogen: verses from the mountain of eternal peace
by Steven Heine
reviewed by Taigen Dan Leighton
“…Heine's latest book provides a fine collection of translations of the poetry of the famed Japanese Zen monk Eihei Dogen. ” from Journal of Buddhist Ethics, Vol. 5, 1998   buy this book

Zen Radicals, Rebels and Reformers
by Perle Besserman and Manfred Steger
reviewed by Vladimir K. buy this book

Zen Sand: The Book of Capping Phrases for Koan Practice
by Victor Sogen Hori   buy this book
reviewed by Vladimir K.
reviewed by Jiang Wu from Journal of Buddhist Ethics

Zen Skin, Zen Marrow: Will the Real Zen Buddhism Please Stand Up? by Steven Heine *
reviewed by Helen J Beroni
Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol. 36, No. 1, winter 2010
reviewed by Victor Forte, Japanese Religions, Vol 34, No 1
reviewed by Vladimir K Buy this book

Zen Sourcebook: Traditional Documents from China, Korea, and Japan
Edited by Stephen Addiss, with Stanley Lombardo and Judith Roitman
reviewed by Mario Poceski
Journal of the American Oriental Society (Apr-Jun 2009) buy this book from Amazon

Zen Teaching, Zen Practice: Philip Kapleau and The Three Pillars of Zen*
edited by Kenneth Kraft
reviewed by Vladimir K    buy this book

Zen Teachings of Master Lin-Ji*
by Burton Watson reviewed by Urs App from
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 1994 (21/4) buy this book

Zen Women: beyond tea ladies, iron maidens and macho masters*
by Grace Schireson
reviewed by Vladimir K buy this book

Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics*
Allan Hunt Badiner, Alex Grey (eds)
reviewed by Michael Ziegler
from Institute of Labor and Mental Health, Jan/Feb 2004
Buy this book

* previous thezensite book selections of the month


Miscellaneous & Reading Lists

thezensite Zen Books Reading List: an extensive list of Zen books with links to reviews where applicable. The list is organized according to various topics similar to thezensite topics to help you navigate around. Although nobody can (or should try to) list all the Zen books available, I think this list goes some way to helping both scholars and students a place to begin.

Steven Heine's A Critical Survey of Works on Zen since Yampolsky An excellent survey of significant writings on Zen Buddhist studies since 1967. Includes a very useful bibliography of articles, books, monographs and theses of significant works. Highly recommended.

AMA Samy's Book recommendations: a reading list which includes Zen, meditation and psychology. Includes links to some book reviews. The list can be downloaded as a pdf document.

Chapel Hill Zen Center recommended reading list. This group is led by Pat Phelan and is associated with Suzuki's San Francisco Zen Center.

Clouds in Water Zen Center: has an extensive recommended reading list. Clouds in Water center in St Paul, Minnesota is in the Dainin Katagiri lineage.

Dr. Ron Epstein's reading list for his "philosophy 501" university course. An interesting list with a great variety of readings. Books academics would read but of interest to Zen students.

Kenyon College in Ohio has an extensive Zen bibliography here as part of their Religious Study programme.

The Kwan Um School of Zen recommended reading list. An extensive reading list which includes books by their master, Seung Sahn, books on Korean Zen, other Zen traditions, koan studies and sutras. Very comprehensive.

John Daido Loori has an extensive reading list here.

Liverpool Zen Group: an extensive (and eclectic) collection of recommended readings.

Unstructured Buddhist Bibliography: this site has over 3,000 Buddhist books listed, many with links to Amazon. It's just in alphabetical order so I don't know how one is to use this list. But here it is and I have no idea why an insurance company would publish such a list.


Book Sources

Everyone knows about Amazon but here are some other sources that may not be as well known. I'll add more as I find them. Note: I make no claims about any of these sites and provide links as a service to my readers. I recieve no money from any of these sites. Use them at your own risk.

Bagchee.com: a Delhi based bookseller. Includes rare and collectibles as well as multimedia products.

Eastern Books Corporation: This link will take you to their Buddhist section of over 1,000 books. Many other books also available. Based in India, so prices are most reasonable.

HindiBooks: the link will take you to their Buddhist book section. Prices are in US$, Pound Sterling or Indian Rupees. This link will take you to their home page.

Inward Path Publishers: This Penang, Malaysia based publisher disseminates Buddhist books for FREE. You pay only the shipping costs. Their catalogue page is here.

Saujanya Books: based in New Delhi, this bookseller specialises in Tibetan, Buddhist, Muslim texts as well as other topics. It lists about 1855 Buddhist books alone. It distributes books in English, Sanskrit and Tibetan. And the prices, which include airmail shipping, are considerably cheaper than Amazon. Worthy of a browse.

Vedams Books from India: this link will take you to their Buddhist section. A huge selection of books available. Here is their home page.