The Experience of Insight: A Simple and Direct Guide to Buddhist Meditation
By Joseph Goldstein
This book is based on 30 talks Goldstein gave during a 90-day retreat; therefore, reading it is like being on a retreat. The book provides a thorough introduction to vipassana and the Buddha’s teachings of the Four Noble Truths, the Factors of Enlightenment, and more.
The Heart of Buddhist Meditation: Satipatthna: A Handbook of Mental Training Based on the Buddha’s Way of Mindfulness
By Thera Nyanaponika
This is an excellent, in-depth description of mindfulness practice and its benefits. It includes a concise explanation of clear comprehension, which is the kind of mindfulness you use in the course of your daily life. It also presents an easily understandable explanation of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
By Sharon Salzberg
When I want to encourage a student to learn loving-kindness practice, I recommend that they start with Salzberg’s book because she gives a thorough description of this kind of meditation, and she addresses the resistance that many students have. Mindfulness practice can be difficult to do because you encounter so much dukkha (suffering). Loving-kindness practice helps you build the capacity to maintain equanimity while being present with dukkha; therefore, it is key to developing mindfulness.
A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life
By Jack Kornfield
This book by the one of the founders of Spirit Rock Meditation Center is a thorough introduction to the emotional, psychological, and spiritual aspects of meditation. Kornfield’s book offers beginning students many gateways for getting started. It is filled with engaging, inspiring stories that help students believe it’s possible for them to meditate too. And it provides a context for understanding the many facets of insight meditation.
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha
By Tara Brach
This book is an excellent guide to using meditation to deal with the emotional challenges in daily life. Many students have reported to me that this book has help them psychologically and emotionally to deal with some issue in their life.
Thoughts Without A Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective
By Mark Epstein
This book provides Western psychological insight as well as giving an orientation to Buddhist psychology. Epstein deals with complex material in clear language that allows you to get a feel for the structure of the psyche.