Interested in reading some of the best books on spiritual enlightenment? Learning about spirituality is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. It helps you to free yourself from the shackles of a monotonous and mediocre existence into a flourishing, compassionate, fulfilling life full of love.
But spirituality is not a subject that you can tackle by yourself.
Studying spirituality means devouring all the books on the subject you can potentially find. This list below is of the best books on enlightenment you can read in 2023 with more updates coming soon!
What is Spirituality?
Christina Puchalski, MD, says that spirituality is the “aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.”
Often, spirituality is about freeing yourself from society’s harsh judgments and your own limiting beliefs. Spirituality can help you understand the world, understand yourself, and develop compassion for everyone around you.
And spirituality is a human concept and is studied around the world, and I do believe that it’s important to consume spiritual literature from a variety of places around the world to offer different perspectives (and yet, it’s amazing how similar many of the concepts are).
Many people find connectedness to their environment by meditating, through giving to charity, writing, art, or by learning about themselves.
Personally, I love learning as much as I can about the history of spirituality and religions, psychology, emotions, and science. Through my own spiritual journey, I find that I desire peace and balance, both for myself and for others.
As a frequent consumer of spiritualistic literature, I also find it important to read books that allow to discover how you feel, not tell you how to feel. One side effect of these discoveries may provide “relief from so much unhappiness” (The Power of Meditation).
Whether you’re looking for best spiritual books for beginners, best books on meditation and spiritual books like Untethered Soul (on this list!), or books on religion and spirituality, you’ll find something on this list to get you started!
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What is Spiritual Awakening?
Spiritual enlightenment is a difficult concept to define. In essence, enlightenment or “spiritual awakening” is defined by a consistent awareness of the world, emotions, and motivations. And in this profound understanding, you feel nothing but love in return.
Sri Avinash describes this feeling as a complete lack of being disturbed by anything. When the things that used to upset or irk you, no longer do, because you’ve reached a higher level of understanding. You don’t live in the past or future, you live in the present moment.
(By the way, in the Buddhist tradition, the word “love” literally means “understanding”.)
How to choose between these spiritual awakening books
There are 16 spiritual books in this list, and they are all different areas or subgenres, including general (for beginners), meditation-focused, religion-focused, and advanced studies. Even within those different topics, the readers of these life-changing books might have different needs.
Start by brainstorming a list of what you’re looking to get from the book you read (this is especially important if you are a beginner!) Are you:
- hoping for inner peace?
- looking for a more fulfilling life?
- want to try meditation?
- hoping to learn more about religions?
- want to further your spiritual development?
- looking for nirvana?
These are going to make a difference as to what book you decide to pick up.
Next, continue by reading through the descriptions of the best spiritual books and see what matches your particular needs. You may have a book that resonates with you.
Check out the Amazon descriptions and reviews. There were books that I excluded from this list based on reviews that mentioned close-mindedness from the author. Similarly, there may be a review or description that turns you off.
Narrow your list down and dive in.
There’s no wrong way to pick a book, but go with your intuition–it won’t steer you wrong!
Are you ready to start your spiritual journey? Let’s start reading, shall we?! Here are the best spiritual books of all time, in no particular order.
RELATED: 5 Steps to Spiritual Awakening
Best Spirituality Books for Beginners
Here’s a great book that comes from one of the preeminent spiritual teachers of our time. The Art of Happiness focuses on, you guessed it, finding happiness in our chaotic and challenging world.
The Dalai Lama and Dr. Cutler lay out compelling wisdom for cultivating compassion, true happiness, and contentment in our daily lives that is simple, easy to read, and applicable to everyone, no matter their walk of life.
While the Dalai Lama may not be in the best mental state in 2023, this bestselling book is still worth reading.
Where in the World: Tibet
Best Part: Reads like he’s talking to common people
While technically a fiction book, and very short, The Alchemist is a powerful and transformative fable about Santiago, a shepherd boy looking for treasure, who finds the ultimate treasure within himself.
Coelho has woven nuggets of spiritual gold into each page of this book, and the words are like poetry. You will see yourself in Santiago, every step of the way along his spiritual path, going through different stages of spiritual and life challenges.
Truly a classic that transcends time, this is a must-read, and I’m only disappointed that I did not read it earlier!
Where in the World: Brazil (Coelho), set in Spain and Egypt
Best Part: Writing down all the quotable lines!
Toltec were people who lived in Mexico before the Aztecs, and they had many teachings on spirituality. The Four Agreements, which has been on the New York Times Bestseller list, is based on ancient Toltec wisdom and focuses on applying these ideas to modern, everyday life in order to reach our dreams and breaking free of the societal norms that push us down.
This book is simplistic and can be a little repetitive, but can you blame the authors? They are attempting to help human beings break free from the source of self-limiting beliefs imposed on us by society, which have been shaping us into submission since we are born.
Learn about the 4 Agreements that you make with yourself to break free from the societal dream. I won’t share what the 4 Agreements are, but believe me, you’ll reach a higher state of self and enlightened spirituality by reading this book!
Where in the World: Mexico
Best Part: For those who wish to free themselves of the constraints and expectations of society
The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams, Deepak Chopra
Deepak Chopra is a spiritual guru and has been featured on Oprah… chances are, you know him already! He’s an author and alternative healing advocate.
This spiritual book is all about the seven spiritual laws. Feeling connected to our environment, slowing down, and observing our own energy can help us reach our true potential. Chopra encourages you to practice defenselessness, letting go of attachments, allowing your money to flow, and making conscious life choices, among others when seeking spiritual enlightenment.
The great thing, he shares with us, is that our spiritual growth can manifest as personal happiness, success, and living your best life.
Where in the World: Indian-American
Best Part: Excellent first introduction to spirituality through the seven spiritual laws
I had read Tolle’s Power of Now a long time ago and followed it with A New Earth.
A New Earth presents the possibility that, for the first time in our planet’s history, we can lead billions of people to their own awakening. He implores us to look at the current state of humanity, but also look at our potential for change. The potential is there for an overwhelming shift in consciousness to help us make a more peaceful, balanced, loving world.
As a writer, Eckhart Tolle presents his concepts in a simple and easy manner. In the book, he helps lead you, the reader, to your own shift in consciousness. Unlike some books on spiritual growth, Tolle does not offer tasks for the reader to complete, but instead talks in terms of each person exploring their own inner and outer worlds to discover their own life’s purpose.
This is an easy spirituality book for beginners to read.
Where in the World: Germany
Best Part: Allows for reader exploration
Like the other spiritual books in this “beginner” list, The Book of Awakening helps to break down the social world as you know it so that you can begin to move toward a more conscious existence.
The lovely thing that sets this spiritual book apart from the others is by breaking into 365 small portions that you slowly digest and meditate on each day. And it is meant to be consumed that way: slowly and intentionally, to understand the meaning of each day’s thought and spiritual awakening of the author.
Don’t purchase this one if you’re hoping a quick introduction into spirituality… instead, choose it if you would like to take your time and make spiritual growth a regular habit and part of your life.
Where in the World: USA
Best Part: Extended study with 1 reflection each day for a year
The Best Books Spirituality and Religion
Although this could be classified as a religious book, it primarily focuses on the spiritual components of Buddhist and Christian teachings, and the similarities in them.
However, keep in mind that this book is not Christian or Buddhist although Hanh is Buddhist himself. When Hanh speaks of Christianity, it is not about the methodology, the rituals, the dogma, or any of the practices of Christianity the religion. Hanh quotes Jesus Christ and his disciples directly, and even uses the lesser known Gnostic Gospels from which to draw information. Historically, this book is very interesting.
If you are a Christian, you might be a little wary of this book–don’t! Hanh’s goal is to discuss the similarities of the two religions, not to make you convert to Buddhism or to make you question your spiritual beliefs. He is very sensitive and factual, and with the turn of each page, I was pleasantly surprised. Inspirational and refreshing!
Where in the World: Vietnam
Best Part: Positive and sensitive comparison of Christ and Buddha
Sam Harris is an uber-atheist.
I want to get that out there before I throw you into this one headfirst. Because it is important to examine how we look at spirituality in terms of religion, and how they exist separate of each other.
Waking Up brings a new and fresh perspective on consciousness, meditation, and spirituality through science and logic. (The author is a neuroscientist.) He speaks about meditation, but this is not a how-to guide on non-religious meditation. An intriguing read for those who are interested in religion and how it may (or may not) be spiritual in nature.
Where in the World: USA
Best Part: Non-religious perspective
Similar to Sam Harris above, Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and has learned much about the brain during his time in his profession. There is a substantial amount of jargon in this book, but it’s all worthwhile because it helps to draw connections between Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy and the science of the brain.
It’s very intense stuff, but when thoroughly processed, can help lead you to inner peace, help you release your stress and anxiety, and learn to focus your mind. Rewire your brain to be more like Buddha’s!
Where in the World: USA
Best Part: In-depth look at the brain
This is an astounding combination of concepts. Richard Rohr takes the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and transforms them into a spiritual journey as a Christian.
There are people drowning in addiction who may not even know it. Are you addicted to work? Addicted to your beliefs and convictions? Addicted to judging others? Breathing Under Water can help you connect with God, free yourself from your addictions, and live with an intense compassion for others.
Where in the World: USA
Best Part: Christian spirituality as seen through the lens of a recovering alcoholic
In the 60s, when psychedelics, hippies, and Eastern philosophies were all parts of the growing counterculture in the US, a man named Dr. Richard Alpert gave up his life as a Harvard professor to do acid and travel to India to explore Eastern philosophies and yoga. There, he was renamed Ram Dass.
A guide to yoga principles and the Hindi religion, Be Here Now is one of the favorites of Steve Jobs and appears on his list of his top books of all time.
Yes, this book reads like an acid trip. It is very stream of consciousness and can seem unrooted at times, floating through space and time. But there is method to the madness, and there is wisdom in the words.
When you are ready for it, this book is waiting for you!
Where in the World: USA & India
Written by Lao Tzu, a famous Chinese teacher, philosopher, and writer that lived sometime around the 5th century BC, his Tao Te Ching is a central text of Taoism.
Taoism is all about living in harmony with “The Way”… nature, human nature, the natural flow of life. The Tao Te Ching is a poem, and it’s translated from old Chinese, so it’s not an easy read. Take your time with this one, and enjoy some of the amazing quotes like:
When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.
Nature does not hurry yet everything is accomplished.
Where in the World: China
Best Part: Realizing that the human race has been studying and writing about spirituality for thousands of years (before Christ) and is still accessible to a Western audience
The Best Books on Enlightenment Through Meditation
One of my cousins recommended this book to me. Salzberg, the author, talks in the future tense: this is what you will find/discover/receive with meditation. She takes great care to make sure that the reader is willing to put in the work to get there. It begins with a brief introduction to meditation, what it is and why to try it, but quickly evolves into much more.
She focuses on the few things you will need for meditation and expands upon them–namely concentration and breath.. When your meditation derails, Salzberg has a suggestion for it. Her FAQ sections are very comprehensive and covers just about any issue you might run into when you try to meditate.
For those looking for an unobtrusive book into the spiritual world, begin within yourself, through meditation.
I’m currently reading her most recent book, Real Life. I’ll let you know how it is!
Where in the World: USA (Jewish)
Best Part: Excellent introduction to meditation
Another “bite-sized” pieces kind of book, I’ve Been Thinking is a warm and uplifting book by writer Maria Shriver. With a big focus on compassion and giving to others, this book is meant to help give small bits of wisdom in a gentle and forgiving manner.
The book is broken into subjects like aging, change, love, and many more. If you’re in need of uplifting and some inspiration, this is your book. Open it with hygge in mind: a warm cup of tea, a blanket on your lap, and a piece of decadent dark chocolate.
Where in the World: USA
Best Part: Written with grace, warmth, gratitude, compassion, and gifts of giving.
Once again we see the spiritualistic theme of freeing your soul in Journey to the Heart. With daily reflections and meditations, this book is another that helps you develop a daily spiritual practice.
Melody Beattie has more of an agenda than the book above, with reflections that are deeper than just to motivate, but also to help you grow, connect with others, and renew your spiritual journey deep within yourself. Healing and insightful, choose this book for emotional personal growth.
Where in the World: USA
Best Part: Finding a new way to live through hope and joy
This book has broadened my mind and spirit in a way that I was unprepared for. Dr. Joe Dispenza is a neuroscientist and meditation guru who uses brain research (like Rick Hanson and Sam Harris above) to show scientific evidence as to how meditation works.
His specialty is helping others with neuroplasticity (rewiring their brains) through meditation, emotions, and building new habits. This can help us build a new future for ourselves… one filled with compassion, love, and peace.
The concepts in this book (as well as his others) are definitely “out there”, but if you’re looking for a methodology to apply your spiritualist practices, this is a great one!
Where in the World: USA
Best Part: Applies meditation practices to your spirituality.
The Best Books on Enlightenment (Advanced)
From the very start, Thich Nhat Hanh presents us with a premise: Happiness and Peace Are Possible. It seems like a grand presumption!
Through his words, he presents us with the opportunity to be the maker of our own destinies (though I’m sure he would not call it that) and mold happiness and peace out of the garbage of our past and our negative emotions.
As a Buddhist, he speaks in terms of Buddhism, but have no fear—he presents these in the most non-threatening, gentle way possible. As in the last book, the reader is guided through meditation, though Hanh calls it “mindfulness of breath” instead.
Hanh offers explanations, stories, and analogies to help the reader open up their world to their own experiences and “suffering,” as he calls it. This is not an introductory book! You must read this book with an open mind!
Where in the World: Vietnam
Best Part: A buddhist book in nature, You Are Here can help you overcome suffering
By far the best book about spirituality!
This book is quite a bit more in-depth and should probably not be your first step into the world of spirituality. As someone who regularly reads spiritual books, I was surprised to find some different concepts in this one.
This book combines psychology (without all the terms and jargon) and Buddhism into a masterpiece of self-exploration. This self-exploration ends with the dissolution of the self and an embrace of all things gentle and loving towards others. Michael Singer even admits that it may be painful to look so deeply into your psyche and soul–but that the relief, happiness and joy you experience when you get to the other side is the greatest gift you could ever give yourself.
This is truly the best book on spiritual awakening!
Where in the World: USA
Best Part: EVERYTHING (if you’re experienced with spirituality)
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So what do you think? You don’t have to be a hippie or buddhist to appreciate these spiritual books, and I highly recommend Christians to read “Living Buddha, Living Christ” because of the similarities between the religions and their leaders.
These books on spiritual awakening can help us not only live in the present moment, achieve peace and relief from our suffering, but also help us build a healthier, more sustainable world.
I hope you find some spiritual development from these books and find yourself a little more connected to your fellow humans!
What are your favorite books about spirituality?
16 Best Spiritual Books on Enlightenment