We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Research shows that mindfulness can reduce stress, improve physical health, and raise your quality of life.

Person lying in bed reading a mindfulness bookShare on Pinterest
PeopleImages/Getty Images

If you’re looking for a book on mindfulness these days, you’ll have to climb a mountain. A mountain of books, that is.

And you’ll find them rooted in almost every field imaginable — from health to education to psychotherapy, even fashion!

We’ve climbed the mountain of mindfulness books and picked out 12 of the best. They’re all good for different reasons. If you want a beginner’s book, or one to help your anxiety, or one to help your family handle stress, we’ve got it picked out for you.

In this list, you’ll find mindfulness instruction, the science behind it, lots of exercises to try, and even an inspiring memoir. If you want a break from reading, try an audiobook, a journal, or even a coloring book.

Mindfulness is the simple concept of paying attention to the moment. It has been more fully defined by the pioneering mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn, who said:

Mindfulness has been shown to have wide-reaching health benefits:

  • One study found mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to be as effective as maintenance antidepressants for preventing depressive relapse.
  • A clinical trial showed that a mindfulness-based program adapted to participants with elevated blood pressure helped to reduce both blood pressure and stress.
  • Another study reported that people reporting high levels of mindfulness also reported more positive states of mind and lower levels of depression and anxiety.

You can practice mindfulness in many forms, from a few private moments at your desk to a variety of in-person and online courses. Other places to practice what you learn in these mindfulness books include:

  • online groups
  • workshops
  • movement classes
  • workplace training

And, of course, you can always learn more by picking up a new book.

Our first concern in picking these books was variety. People approach mindfulness at all levels of experience and for all kinds of reasons. So we wanted different books to match your reasons: one for the beginners, one for those who want to learn new exercises, one for kids, one for parents, and so on.

We also made sure that the books we selected have:

  • authors experienced in their field
  • a steady sales history
  • generally good — often outstanding! — reviews
  • accurate content about mindfulness

Best overall

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life

  • Price: $
  • Written by: Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Formats: paperback, hardcover, Kindle, audiobook

This is a one-size-fits-all mindfulness handbook that will teach you the concepts, get you started with exercises, and sit on your bedside table as a welcome reference. The chapters are short and self-contained, so you can dip in wherever you want.

It was written by author and mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1994 and has remained a bestseller and classic. Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic in 1979, which was then associated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

He has written many other mindfulness books, the best-known one being “Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness,” which is full of research and recommended applications. It’s the book that ushered mindfulness into medical and scientific circles.

This shorter book is directed to a wider audience and is meant to provide a “brief and easy access to the essence of mindfulness,” Kabat-Zinn writes. “Full Catastrophe Living” is directed toward people with serious medical problems, stress, and chronic pain.

You can also purchase the accompanying “Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series 2” audiobook or audio CD containing mindfulness exercises narrated by Kabat-Zinn designed to complement the book.

What we like

  • has short, self-contained chapters
  • offers entertaining personal stories from the author
  • features personally led mindfulness exercises in text or audio

Best for beginners

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

  • Price: $
  • Written by: Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Formats: paperback, hardcover, Kindle, audiobook

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk who played a key role in introducing mindfulness to the Western world. This book, first published in 1975, has aged well. It has many different editions available, plus accompanying online meditation exercises. Thay, as he is known, has also written 100 other books in his lifetime.

This book is regarded as a classic and is beloved for its kind and lightly humorous tone. It advocates the expansion of meditation into action through mindful speaking, acting, working, and engaging the world.

It has seven short chapters introducing mindfulness meditation and one long chapter containing exercises to start you in your practice and provide a reference for the future. The book features 11 black-and-white drawings by Vo-Dinh Mai.

Some exercises involve sitting and focusing on the body or breath. Others will help you practice mindfulness during daily activities, for example:

  • “Following your breath while carrying on a conversation”
  • “Washing the dishes”
  • “A slow-motion bath”
  • “Cleaning house”

You can also access exercises, meditations, and guided relaxations on the author’s Plum Village website, or on the free app, Plum Village: Zen Guided Meditation & Mindfulness.

What we like

  • is easy to read and understand
  • features beautiful drawings
  • offers engaging exercises and storytelling

Bestseller

Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World

  • Price: $$
  • Written by: Mark Williams and Dr. Danny Penman
  • Formats: paperback, hardcover, Kindle

The popularity of this book most likely stems from its application of mindfulness to our busy modern lives. It contains the complete 8-week mindfulness course developed at Oxford University, but you can also engage it at your own pace in your own time. Or just do it on your own outside of a structured program.

The first three chapters introduce mindfulness, and the remaining nine chapters provide 1-week tutorials for dealing with common issues of modern life. For example:

  • “Waking Up to the Autopilot”
  • “Turning Toward Difficulties”
  • “When Did You Stop Dancing?”

Williams is a co-founder, with John Teasdale and Zindel Segal, of a program called Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, designed to prevent depression relapse. He is also the founder of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

You can listen to some of the mindfulness exercises from the book for free on the book website.

What we like

  • can be read anywhere
  • written in simple, engaging language
  • offers exercises applicable to modern life

Best for mindfulness exercises

How to Train a Wild Elephant: And Other Adventures in Mindfulness

  • Price: $
  • Written by: Jan Chozen Bays
  • Formats: paperback, Kindle, MP3 CD

This is the kind of book you keep on your table or put in your bag and carry with you. You pull it out whenever you’re waiting in the grocery checkout line or the dentist’s office — any time you have a minute to spare. You can pick one of the 53 mindfulness exercises and enjoy a quiet, calming moment with yourself.

The author Jan Chozen Bays is a physician and Zen teacher at the Great Vow Monastery in Oregon. Her tone in the book is kind, often humorous, and always engaging. Each exercise includes tips on how to remind yourself of it later, plus a short story or lesson connected with it. Examples of exercises include:

  • taking three deep breaths before answering the phone
  • looking deeply into food
  • breathing deeply once before you leave a space (like a room, car, or building)

If you prefer to listen to the exercises instead of reading them, there is a CD version available.

What we like

  • presents exercises that involve daily activities
  • written in a personal, friendly approach
  • has an author experienced in teaching

Best workbook

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, revised second edition

  • Price: $$
  • Written by: Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein
  • Formats: paperback, Kindle

This is a workbook to teach yourself mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), a program developed by mindfulness author and teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn, which is taught in clinics around the world. The revised second edition of this workbook includes new meditations and audio downloads, plus content revisions.

MBSR is designed to reduce symptoms of:

This workbook is not about getting rid of stressors in your life, but rather developing healthier ways of dealing with them.

On the publisher’s book website, you can listen to mindfulness meditations, yoga instructions, and breathing exercises. You can also download a number of accessories to the book including meditation transcripts, practice logs, and worksheets.

Author Bob Stahl, PhD, is a longtime mindfulness practitioner who lived in a Zen monastery and now directs mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programs in three medical centers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Co-author Elisha Goldstein, PhD, founded the online mindfulness space Mindful Living Collective. He also co-founded the Center for Mindful Living in Los Angeles and created an online coaching program, A Course in Mindful Living.

What we like

  • can be done on your own or incorporated into a course
  • written by experienced mindfulness practitioners
  • has accompanying audio exercises and workbook accessories available online

Best journal

Start Where You Are: A Journal for Self-Exploration

  • Price: $$
  • Written by: Meera Lee Patel
  • Formats: journal, spiral-bound

This is an interactive journal designed to help you learn and practice mindfulness through supportive prompts, exercises, and inspirational quotes. There is plenty of blank space to encourage your personal writing or drawing.

The artwork in the journal includes hand-lettering and images in vibrant colors. The mood is uplifting, and the quotes inspire meditation and self-acceptance.

For many of us, keeping a journal has been popular ever since we as children got our first diary, lockable with a key. Now many people use journals for self-exploration and expression.

In the last decade, research has revealed the many mental health benefits of journaling, often called expressive writing. One study found significant mental health improvement from expressive writing, particularly in symptoms of anxiety.

What we like

  • features bright, vibrant colors
  • offers inspirational quotes
  • presents logs with room for personal writing and drawing

Best coloring book

Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book

  • Price: $$
  • Illustrated by: Johanna Basford
  • Formats: paperback

This is the book credited with bringing coloring books into the adult world. Although there have been other coloring books for adults, this book turned it into a genre and brought it into the mainstream.

It brought adults the engrossing focus and joy that kids remember from coloring a picture with individual colors that only they decide. This is where mindfulness comes in. Focus and joy are good descriptions of mindfulness itself.

Research in the past decade has found that coloring can reduce anxiety, as well as improve both mindful attention and creative stimulation. Researchers say more study is needed to determine how helpful coloring is for high levels of anxiety, and how long the benefits last.

This coloring book has detailed pictures of flowers, garden benches and pagodas, and secret garden places. There are pictures to color, mazes to travel, patterns to complete, and lots of blank spaces for you to add your own drawings.

There are also hidden items to find in the elaborate drawings. The book opens with a list of things to be found, including:

  • 63 beetles
  • 20 songbirds
  • 116 butterflies
  • 1 shark

This book was on top of the New York Times bestseller list. It led to a whole series of coloring books by Basford. If you’d like to see more, try “Enchanted Forest,” “Magical Jungle,” or “Worlds of Wonder.” And there are coloring tutorials on Basford’s blog, like this one on How to Color Flowers.

Coloring has become so popular that people often meet online to share info and projects. You may be able to find one near you on this list of coloring meetups.

What we like

  • features lovely intricate drawings
  • is a fun treasure hunt
  • can be used anywhere

Best for anxiety

Pass Through Panic: Freeing Yourself from Anxiety and Fear

  • Price: $
  • Created by: Claire Weekes
  • Formats: audiobook, audio CD

This is an eight-part radio series broadcast in the United States by the Australian doctor Claire Weekes in 1967. She coaches you personally and compassionately about how to overcome anxiety, phobias, and panic. This instruction is mindfulness before mindfulness became a household word.

We recommend this title primarily because of the remarkable intimacy and support you feel from Dr. Weekes, even though she passed away in 1990. When she describes how she has heard a parrot in St. Louis “strike his beak against the cage” in the background of a phone consultation, you almost feel she could be on the other end of the phone line with you, too.

Her fresh approach of “face, accept, float, let time pass,” struck a chord in popular audiences. Her three books about accepting and passing through panic and anxiety moved into the bestseller lists in the United States and the United Kingdom from the early 1960s onwards.

Her compassion has awakened hope and optimism for those who feel trapped by anxiety. As one patient wondered: “How can you know exactly what’s going on inside me when we don’t know each other?” Weekes’s reply is reassuring to many who have felt bewildered by the symptoms of anxiety: “I don’t need to know the patient. I know the illness very well.”

What we like

  • has a personal, compassionate approach
  • is short enough to listen to in one sitting: 1 hr 55 mins
  • changed the lives of many reviewers

Best for kids

My Magic Breath: Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing

  • Price: $$
  • Written by: Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor
  • Formats: hardcover, audiobook

This is a book that shows children mindfulness by leading them in interactive mindful breathing. In one exercise, they take a deep breath and blow their “magic breath” full of happy feelings out onto the page. Later, they’re led to use their happy breath to blow difficult emotions “right off the page.”

This book is a good reminder for kids (and adults too!) that the simple act of taking a deep breath can help you enjoy your “happy times,” or feel calm when you’re not so happy. The book leads kids through several deep breaths and one big yawn before going to sleep.

For example, in one exercise, the book asks, “What happened today that made you smile?” Then it encourages you, saying, “Take a big breath in and picture that moment in your mind.” And it finishes up with, “Let’s blow out all those happy thoughts on the page. Now that looks like happiness!”

This book is intended for children ages 2 to 6 years old. It’s especially useful at the end of the day when youngsters might be overwhelmed by thoughts or worries and unable to sleep.

What we like

  • is fun and enjoyable for kids to practice on their own, or have read to them
  • encourages interactive practice using the “magic breath” to blow away unhappy feelings
  • has vibrant watercolor drawings of the magic breath

Best for teens

Mindfulness for Teens in 10 Minutes a Day: Exercises to Feel Calm, Stay Focused & Be Your Best Self

  • Price: $
  • Written by: Jennie Marie Battistin
  • Formats: paperback, Kindle, audiobook

This is a small book that you can stash in your school backpack and have with you all day. Alternatively, you could get the Kindle edition and have it on your phone. The point is that it’s portable, easy, and quick. You can do each of the exercises in 10 minutes.

The exercises are designed to help particularly with anxiety and sleep issues, but they can also help generate an easy mind in general. Exercises are categorized for morning, midday, and night.

This book is positioned for teens, but college students and adults leave appreciative reviews as well. You can open the book anywhere and find a useful exercise. They’re simple and easy to remember when you need them.

What we like

  • has simple exercises that are easy to remember
  • exercises involve relevant teen issues like connecting with friends and succeeding at school
  • has fun exercise names, like “Superhero Stance” and “Butterfly Hug”

Best for parents

Growing Up Mindful: Essential Practices to Help Children, Teens, and Families Find Balance, Calm, and Resilience

  • Price: $$
  • Written by: Christopher Willard
  • Formats: paperback, Kindle

This book helps parents, caregivers, educators, and counselors share the skills of mindfulness with children and teens. It offers 75 mindfulness exercises with adaptations to meet the needs of a wide range of ages. It has an appendix where you can match exercises to your child’s personality and emotional development.

This book can help kids increase curiosity, reduce anxiety, and soothe the pain of trauma. It helps kids (and adults) improve focus, decision-making, and response to stress. It introduces two unique positive responses to stress: “attending” and “befriending.”

It also has a chapter to help adults build the foundation of their own mindfulness practice.

What we like

  • has a modern take on mindful use of social media and technology
  • gets the whole family engaged in mindfulness
  • summarizes information in illustrations and figures

Best memoir

Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart

  • Price: $$
  • Written by: James R. Doty
  • Formats: paperback, hardcover, Kindle, audiobook, audio CD

This book opens with a story of how the neurosurgeon author used meditation to help him save the life of a 4-year-old boy after a mistake by an assistant in the operating room.

The book is the story of Doty’s journey as a child of poverty, with a mother who lives with depression and a father with alcohol use disorder, to becoming a world-class brain surgeon, aided by meditation taught to him after school in a neighborhood magic shop. He details the meditation exercises at length, so you can learn them, too.

He describes in fine detail and drama how meditation awakened the compassion and kindness in him to found and direct the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Doty’s lyrical writing combined with his anchor in modern science propelled this memoir to the New York Times bestseller list. As mindfulness teacher John Kabat-Zinn remarked, the real magic here is that Doty could learn what is deepest and best about himself at the young age of 12, and never lose the thread thereafter.

What we like

  • focuses on combined biological and spiritual healing
  • presents a riveting story
  • provides detailed meditation descriptions

Mindfulness practice can be a lifelong practice that offers many benefits for your mental and physical health. It can lift your mood, resilience, motivation, and overall sense of well-being.

Mindfulness books can get you started in your practice, or sit on your bedside table for you to pick up later whenever you need a boost in spirit or inspiration to carry on.

Once you get started, you may even wish to join a mindfulness meetup where you can join others online or in person. You’ll be able to share what you’ve learned so far and get advice on issues you might have. Who knows, you might even hear about a new mindfulness book!