I love to read books and, if you’re here, you probably do as well…or you’d like to get more into the habit of reading.

It doesn’t matter if you prefer paperback books, hardcover books, audio books, or e-books; books are essential, because nothing compares to the deep learning and insights you can garner when you plunge into an extensive work of fiction or non-fiction by a talented writer.

Articles, videos, podcasts, and other shorter bursts of media are helpful and important, but they are a complement to books rather than a substitute. If you perceive that you don’t “have time” to read books, chances are you’re spending time on at least a couple of activities (social media? streaming service binges?) that don’t add a lot of value to your life. Once you identify such activities, you can transfer some of that time to reading.

I find that most voracious readers enjoy getting recommendations from other readers. I’m asked quite often about my favorite books, and so I thought it would be helpful to list them all by categories in one (regularly updated) post and in no particular order.

Mindfulness, Buddhism, and Psychology

  • Gunaratana, Bhante, Mindfulness in Plain English
  • Goldstein, Joseph, Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening
  • Goldstein, Joseph, Insight Meditation
  • Becker, Ernest, The Denial of Death
  • Hanson, Rick, Buddha’s Brain
  • Kornfield, Jack, The Wise Heart
  • Hanh, Thich Nhat, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching
  • Hanh, Thich Nhat, Interbeing
  • Hanh, Thich Nhat, Anger
  • Hanh, Thich Nhat, How to Fight
  • Hanh, Thich Nhat, Breathe! You Are Alive
  • Salzburg, Sharon, Loving-Kindness
  • Chodron, Pema, The Places That Scare You
  • Chodron, Pema, When Things Fall Apart
  • Tan, Chade-Meng, Search Inside Yourself
  • Hershfield, Jon, and Nicely, Shala, Everyday Mindfulness for OCD
  • Rosenberg, Marshall. Non-Violent Communication
  • Bradshaw, John, Healing the Shame That Binds You
  • Bradshaw, John, Homecoming
  • van der Kolk, Bessel, The Body Keeps the Score
  • Heuertz, Christopher, The Sacred Enneagram
  • Rohr, Richard, Falling Upward
  • Tolle, Eckhart, The Power of Now
  • Tolle, Eckhart, A New Earth
  • Newport, Cal, Digital Minimalism

Racial Justice, Non-Violence, Equity, & Inclusion

  • Magee, Rhonda, The Inner Work of Racial Justice
  • King Jr., Martin Luther, The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Baldwin, James, The Fire Next Time
  • Wilkerson, Isabel, The Warmth of Other Suns
  • X, Malcolm, The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley
  • Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi, We Should All Be Feminists
  • Coates, Ta-Nehisi, We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy
  • Coates, Ta-Nehisi, Between the World and Me
  • Oluo, Ijeoma, So You Want to Talk About Race
  • Kendi, Ibram X,, How to Be An Anti-Racist
  • Kendi, Ibram X., Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America
  • Ortiz, Paul, An African American and Latinx History of the United States
  • Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne, An Indigenous People’s History of the United States
  • Ritchie, Andrea, Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color
  • Traister, Rebecca, Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger
  • Wise, Tim, White Like Me
  • DiAngelo, Robin, White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Race
  • Alexander, Michelle, The New Jim Crow
  • Ward, Jesmyn, Ed., The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race
  • Abrams, Stacey, Our Time is Now
  • Gandhi, M.K., Non-Violent Resistance
  • Kennedy, Robert F., To Seek a Newer World

Climate Stewardship and National/Global Priorities

  • Figueres, Christiana, and Rivett-Carnac, Tom, The Future We Choose
  • Harari, Yuval Noah, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
  • Tippett, Krista, Becoming Wise

Health, Fitness, and Nutrition

  • Greger, Michael, How Not to Diet
  • Greger, Michael, How to Survive a Pandemic
  • Nestor, James, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

Business and Career

  • Godin, Seth, This is Marketing
  • Block, Peter, The Answer to How is Yes
  • Miller, Donald, Building a Story Brand
  • Gelb, Michael, How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci
  • Burnett, Bill, and Evans, Dave, Designing Your Life
  • Pink, Daniel, A Whole New Mind

Writing Tips

  • Prose, Francine, Reading Like a Writer
  • King, Stephen, On Writing
  • Gilbert, Elizabeth, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
  • Lencek, Lena, and Brunello, Pero, How to Write Like Chekhov
  • Hemingway, Ernest, Ernest Hemingway on Writing
  • Pressfield, Steven, The War of Art
  • Moore, Dinty W., The Mindful Writer

Literature (Prose and Poetry)

  • Campbell, Joseph, The Hero With a Thousand Faces
  • Campbell, Joseph, and Moyers, Bill, The Power of Myth
  • Hamilton, Edith, Mythology
  • Denby, David, Great Books
  • O’Brien, Tim, The Things They Carried
  • Whyte, David, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment, and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words
  • Whyte, David, Essentials
  • Oliver, Mary, Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
  • Wolfe, Thomas, Look Homeward, Angel
  • Nerburn, Kent, The Wisdom of the Native Americans
  • Rumi, Jalal al-Din, The Essential Rumi
  • Buechner, Frederick, Listening to Your Life
  • Angelou, Maya, The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou
  • Angelou, Maya, Poems
  • Baldwin, James, Vintage Baldwin
  • Chekhov, Anton, Stories of Anton Chekhov
  • Kafka, Franz, The Complete Kafka
  • Munro, Alice, Vintage Munro
  • King, Stephen, The Stand
  • Rowling, JK, Harry Potter series
  • Hemingway, Ernest, The Old Man and the Sea 
  • Hemingway, Ernest, The Sun Also Rises
  • Hemingway, Ernest, A Movable Feast
  • Orwell, George, Animal Farm
  • Salinger, JD, The Catcher in the Rye
  • Puzo, Mario, The Godfather
  • Kerouac, Jack, On the Road
  • Morrison, Toni, Beloved
  • Gallant, Mavis, Paris Stories
  • Mansfield, Katherine, The Garden Party and Selected Stories
  • Doerr, Anthony, All the Light We Cannot See
  • Steinbeck, John, East of Eden
  • Marquez, Gabriel-Garcia, 100 Years of Solitude
  • Wroblewski, David, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
  • Kundera, Milan, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  • Stein, Gertrude, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
  • Milosz, Czesław, A Book of Luminous Things
  • Orange, Tommy, There, There
  • Didion, Joan, The Year of Magical Thinking
  • Didion, Joan, Slouching Towards Bethlehem


John M. DeMarco is a writer, executive coach, and activist based in Nashville, Tennessee.