Looking for an inspiring reading list? These books on compassion are the perfect place to start!
We are all wired to desire connection: to feel seen, heard, understood, met. Cultivating compassion for others not only bonds us together in our suffering, but it also sparks a feeling of caregiving and pleasure in oneself.
If you want to expand your capacity to live open-heartedly, read on for our wonderful list of books on compassion.
Nestled in the pages of these titles, you will find self-love tips, creative interpretations on living a compassionate life and rich stories of deep, universal connection.
Many of these books on compassion possess the gift of growth and you may feel inspired to return again and again in order to fully receive the messages within.
Let’s take a look.
11 Books On Compassion to Live Open-Heartedly and Embrace Deeper Connections:
Compassion is such a popular topic these days, because we can all use more of it – both for ourselves and others. These books on compassion offer an inspiring lens through which to view the world, yourself, and your relation to it.
1. The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
This book is a comforting, conversational pep-talk wrapped around some powerful concepts on self-awareness and compassion. The Untethered Soul feels like wrapping yourself up in a fuzzy blanket with a warm drink while your wise fairy godmother teaches you how it all works.
It isn’t a book filled with fluff – rather, it’s a completely relatable approach to a relatively scary subject: your thoughts and emotions. After uncovering how those fluctuate and why, Singer teaches us how to shift our thought patterns and unfetter ourselves from limited consciousness to expand into the world of unlimited possibilities and compassion.
2. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
Tolle is one of the masters in writing on the topic of personal spirituality so this list wouldn’t be complete without one of his many books on the docket.
A New Earth expands on his other book, The Power of Now, to dive into personal purpose and embraces the idea that when we are expressing our purpose we reduce suffering both within us and within the whole world.
What makes Tolle’s books on compassion so impactful is that he takes familiar concepts, such as parenthood, menstruation and unhappiness, and offers an opportunity to explore it through a spiritual lens of compassion and self-discovery.
3. Waking Up by Sam Harris
Waking Up is a great spirituality book for science-minded people. Harris himself is a neuroscientist so is uniquely qualified to write on the subject. In this book he explores “the middle path.” This is the path that requires both science and spirituality to create a complete message.
Though clocking in at just over 200 pages, this book may be more dense than some others on this list due to the science-based nature of it but it’s broken up by images, how-tos, and incredible insight.
Even if you’re already familiar with topics of consciousness, when you read this book you will discover new intricacies and fascinations of humanity.
3 Health Benefits of Reading Books Every Day (Plus 9 Reading Lists to Get You Started)
4. Light on Life by B.K. Iyengar
B.K.S. Iyengar is one of the most prominent figures of modern day yoga. In Light on Life, he shares his “revelations from a lifetime of yoga.” He shares his journey in yoga and proposes your own journey to wholeness through yoga practices.
He shares this journey through creating harmony between the five koshas, or “sheaths of being.” These are: the physical body, energy body, mental body, intellectual body and divine body. Balance is encouraged through meditations, breathing exercises, asana, internal modifications and habits you can practice out in the world.
There is enough wisdom in this one book to spend your lifetime studying it and for this reason the Index in the back is especially useful.
5. Be Here Now by Ram Dass
This is the ultimate classic in the spirituality-via-compassion genre. Part art piece, part dissertation, one of the best parts about Be Here Now is that you can always return to it. You can flip it open to a random page to receive inspiration and insight because every page is saturated with potential mind-shifting realizations.
This book on compassion begins with traditional information including Ram Dass’s journey through academia to India to his awakening. The main section of the book is filled with art and somewhat psychedelic letterpress printing. In the back, there is a third section called the “cookbook” and includes “ingredients” or practices to awakening the Self.
No matter where you are on your spiritual journey, Be Here Now will move you forward, or perhaps more accurately, inward, to the universality of love.
6. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
In the 90s, Julia Cameron changed the writing world forever when she published The Artist’s Way, a book determined to empower every person as their own untapped and unending creative source – through writing!
This book on compassion is packed with inspiring quotes and a step-by-step outline to break down self-created barriers and unleash your unlimited potential within.
As a writer, this is practically a mandated work to have on your shelf and return to again and again. As a person on a creative spiritual path, this is a must-have.
7. The Mastery of Love: A Practical Guide to the Art of Relationship by Don Miguel Ruiz
This “Toltec wisdom book” teaches that love is the natural state of everyone and the primary blockage to/from love is fear. In The Mastery of Love, Ruiz then outlines various forms that fear may take and mindset practices to move past them (or with them) compassionately.
These teachings on rejecting fear and embracing love originate from the Toltec traditions of Mexico, a polytheistic religion which honors Spirit, and is aptly conveyed to the reader through relatable, personal stories.
8. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
This precious book is about a seagull who discovers his own pure potential. Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a lovely story with themes that parallel our own, human, interpretation of spirituality and the guru mindset.
With photography dispersed throughout, this is a quick read that bestows ripples of understanding that come through hours, or even days, later. This book on compassion is a work on joy, purpose, and loving without expectations and attachments.
9. A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
Similar in concepts to The Mastery of Love, but through a Christian lens, this book is an exploration of A Course in Miracles.
A Return to Love breaks down principles and practices outlined in ACIM, a self-guided path to discovering connection, “oneness,” to God and love. This book is very heavy on the “God” talk but if that doesn’t suit your faith, you can change “God” to “Universe/Spirit/etc” and it would have the same effect.
“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we have learned here.” ~ Marianne Williamson.
If you’re looking to uncover the secret to ubiquitous and divine love, this would be a great place to start.
10. Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh
Buddha and Christ are two of the most recognizable people in spirituality. In Living Buddha, Thich Nhat Hanh, a buddhist monk, explores how the two are not so different after all.
Through his prose which, in typical Hanh fashion, is prayerful and meditative but remarkably easy to follow, we learn about his own experience of Christianity and his teachings as a monk.
In these “crossroads of compassion and holiness” he teaches us the interrelation of these two great, contemplative traditions. People on both sides of the spectrum, both religious and spiritual, will discover new ways to see connection to each other – and, ultimately, all things.
10 Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes to Cultivate Compassion, Empathy and Peace
11. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra
When building a compassionate life through compassionate books, you may notice the theme of awakening “pure potential” through ourselves first. Once we see ourselves as flawed and yet perfect human beings, we may begin to see others the same way.
In The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Chopra teaches us how to embrace our potential and create the life we dream of (and, as a result, the world we dream of).
The seven chapters, which make up the seven laws, introduce many of the same themes we’ve seen on the other books on compassion on this list – karma, giving, detachment and potential within – and provide clear-cut instructions on how to apply each law to our lives. This short and powerful book can help you embrace the lifelong journey of our ever-shifting definition of success.
Find More Connection and Open-Heartedness With These Books on Compassion
From universal love to self-acceptance, compassion is a practice that we can grow.
It’s a habit we can build, it’s a window we can open wider. The books on compassion listed here are only the tip of a very large, very rewarding iceberg, which you can explore to learn more about compassion and compassionate practices.
Observing your thoughts, welcoming in possibility, seeing through the “one eye of love,” and encouraging your creativity, are some ways listed here to live a more compassionate life. Continue to develop your compassion for yourself and others.
By widening the window of compassion, you open up yourself to experiencing the divine connection of all and as a result you lead others into a calming presence where healing may grow.