This article describes the books written about the life of the Buddha and we talk about some of our favourites. There is often some confusion around ‘Siddhartha’ by Herman Hesse. It does not tell the life of the Buddha, so we have excluded it from the list.
We have not read ‘The Life of the Buddha’ by Nanamoli because while we think it will be an excellent translation from the Pali Canon we anticipate that it will be dry to read. Neither have we read ‘Old Path White Clouds’ by Thich Nhat Hanh because of the additional side-stories it contains that we find distract from the life of the Buddha.
The biography by Sherab Chodzin Kohn’s is often recommended as part of Buddhist courses because it covers key points in the life of the Buddha and it is written in an exciting and very readable way. It has been published both as ‘The Awakened One’ and ‘A Life Of The Buddha’.
‘Buddha’ by Karen Armstrong is interesting because Karen Armstrong works in comparative religious studies. This means that the ‘Buddha’ book is written by somebody on the outside of Buddhism looking to the hard facts of the life of the Buddha without being drawn into any of the mythology.
The biographies of the Buddha written by Deepak Chopra and Jack Kerouac are interesting because they ring with the distinct voice of the authors. In other words, if you enjoy books by Deepak Chopra or Jack Kerouac then you will no doubt enjoy these books.
We have yet to read the biography written by Tenzin Chogyel composed in the mid-eighteenth century, but that is next on our reading list.