Dive into the literary world of Alan Watts, Writer & Speaker.

Alan Watts was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker, best known for his interpretation and introduction of Eastern philosophy to Western audiences. Born in 1915 in Chislehurst, England, Watts began his career as a scholar of comparative religion at the age of 20 and soon moved to the United States. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, he gained a wide following through his lectures on Buddhist, Taoist, and Hindu philosophy, including extensive work on Zen, which he frequently discussed in his books and public talks. Watts’s approach blended academic rigor with a conversational style, making complex philosophical concepts accessible and relevant to the contemporary Western lifestyle.

This is the real secret of life—to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.❞ — Alan Watts

Watts had an insatiable intellectual curiosity, and his works display a profound engagement with a broad spectrum of ideas, cultures, and texts. He was known for reading widely and deeply across diverse subjects, which enriched his philosophical discourses and writings. His fondness for reading helped him synthesize Eastern and Western thought in innovative ways, influencing the countercultural movements of the 1960s and beyond. Watts’s books and lectures continue to be influential, offering insights into the nature of reality, consciousness, and personal identity.

Alan Watts' Favorite Books

Last Updated: July 2024

Cosmic Consciousness

Bucke's influential book posits that certain individuals throughout history have achieved a higher state of awareness or "cosmic consciousness," representing the next stage in human evolution.

The Varieties of Religious Experience

James's classic work examines the wide range of religious experiences across different cultures, analyzing their psychological underpinnings and their impact on human life and behavior.

Commentaries on Living (First Series)

This collection of Krishnamurti's reflections and discussions offers profound insights into everyday life, consciousness, and the nature of human thought, emphasizing the importance of self-awareness and inner transformation.

Doubt and Certainty in Science: A Biologist's Reflections on the Brain

Young reflects on the nature of scientific inquiry, the functioning of the brain, and the balance between skepticism and certainty in the pursuit of knowledge.

The Secret Oral Teachings in Tibetan Buddhist Sects

David-Neel's book reveals the esoteric teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, based on her extensive travels and studies in Tibet, offering insights into the mystical and practical aspects of these secret doctrines.

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings

This collection presents classic Zen texts and teachings, including the Gateless Gate and 10 Bulls, offering readers an accessible introduction to Zen philosophy and practice.

Secret of the Golden Flower: A Chinese Book of Life

This ancient Chinese text, translated by Wilhelm, presents Taoist and Buddhist teachings on meditation and inner alchemy, aiming to harmonize mind, body, and spirit.

Laws of Form

Spencer-Brown's groundbreaking work introduces a mathematical system that explores the nature of boundaries and distinctions, offering insights into logic, philosophy, and the structure of reality.

Science and Man's Behavior

Burrow examines the implications of scientific discoveries on human behavior and society, advocating for a holistic approach to understanding the human psyche and interpersonal relationships.

Man on Earth: A Preliminary Evaluation of the Ecology of Man

Charter's work offers an early exploration of human ecology, examining the complex relationships between humans and their environments and the impact of human activities on ecological systems.

The Laws of Human Nature

Greene examines the complexities of human behavior and psychology, offering strategies for understanding and mastering one's own nature and the behaviors of others.

Watchers on the Hill

Whitson's historical novel weaves a tale of faith, resilience, and community through the lives of women in a small Midwestern town in the late 19th century.

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Wittgenstein's seminal work outlines a philosophy of language, logic, and reality, proposing that the structure of language mirrors the structure of the world and that what can be spoken of meaningfully must be expressed clearly, while what cannot be spoken of must be passed over in silence.

The Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch

Yampolsky provides a translation and analysis of this key Zen Buddhist text, which outlines the teachings of Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch of Zen, emphasizing sudden enlightenment and direct perception of reality.
Do you have a suggestion for someone who should be featured on our site? Reach out to us today, and we'll make every effort to include them soon!