What is "book of the month"?

One good way to use this site can be to study books together, and post any questions from those books that we may have. The idea is that the text should be one that will stimulate our question-asking faculties, which we then apply by asking questions about the content of book of the month on Buddhism.SE. In the beginning of every month, we start a thread here on meta to suggest and vote for a book. By the 15th, the top voted suggestion is selected. Everyone is free to participate.

Last month, the book selected for reading was Women in Buddhism -- Questions and Answers.

I'm opening this thread to get suggestions of buddhism books for reading during this month. One book per answer, please; top voted answer by July 15th can be our book to be studied this month.

There's really no restrictions for book suggestions, other than being available in english. However, books that are freely available are likely to be favored.

3 Answers 3


The Foundations of Buddhism, 1998 by Rupert Gethin

This full text PDF file is the first link on Google: http://www.ahandfulofleaves.org/documents/The%20Foundations%20of%20Buddhism_Gethin_1998.pdf

Buddhism is a vast and complex religious and philosophical tradition with a history that stretches over 2,500 years, and which is now followed by around 115 million people. In this introduction to the foundations of Buddhism, Rupert Gethin concentrates on the ideas and practices which constitute the common heritage of the different traditions of Buddhism (Thervada, Tibetan, and Eastern) that exist in the world today. From the narrative of the story of the Buddha, through discussions of aspects such as textual traditions, the framework of the Four Noble Truths, the interaction between the monastic and lay ways of life, the cosmology of karma and rebirth, and the path of the bodhisattva, this book provides a stimulating introduction to Buddhism as a religion and way of life.

  • well, that one just moved to the top of my queue :)
    – user382
    Commented Jul 22, 2015 at 2:49

A concise history of Buddhism by Andrew Skilton

Buddhism is a widely diverse religion, with many traditions handed down through the centuries. The newcomer seeking to understand the sometimes contradictory spiritual texts can find it daunting. A Buddhist and professor at Oxford University now unravels these varied religious threads and creates a wonderfully clear and compact look at Buddhist history. From the ancient Indian context to Buddhism in countries beyond, from the Mahayana sutras to Tantra, it presents an account of the religion's development up through the 19 the century, its doctrines and its schools. But the study also covers the context in which Buddhism developed, the external events that had an impact on the religion. Using the most recent scholarship available, it reflects on the Buddha and his teachings, the paths to awakening, the development in the Sangha, the Tripitaka and the Abhidharma, the end of Buddhism in India, and the practice of Buddhism all throughout Asia. A truly enlightening guide.


Any interest in Between The Lines (Volume 1) An analytical appreciation of the Buddha's Life?

"Some 2500 years ago in ancient Northeast India, a young, brilliant and courageous man discovered the sublime answer to how the mind works and how to realise unconditioned happiness and bliss. For the next 45 years, he devoted his life to teaching the doctrine that helped bring unparalleled happiness, peace and relief to numerous people long after his death. In time stories began to emerge proclaiming his greatness and his near-divinity status. Over generations and into distant lands, those stories took on a life of their own. Eventually the real man is buried under a mountain of beautiful fantasies and magical tales. Scholars in Buddhist studies have never lost sight of the historical Buddha. There is a beautiful story to tell about the real man but the materials never quite made it to the mass market because academic books are generally hard to read and appreciate. This book seeks to bring the historical Buddha back into the popular psyche. That story is as intriguing, and is perhaps even more inspiring than the best fantasy story that had ever been woven."

(Free 249 page pdf)

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