Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
This was the first book on Zen I read some twenty years ago. To a westerner conditioned to experience one's perceptions through the filter of the mind, it was near incomprehensible at the time and it was only many years later, as I began to establish my sitting practice, that I was able to read Suzuki-Roshi's talks with benefit.
This book will probably make little sense to you if you do not practice zazen. If you are looking for an intellectual exposition of Buddhist thought, there are many other books that will better suit your purpose.
If you are looking for a how-to method for sitting practice, this book is also probably not the best place to start.
However, if you are looking for encouragement with your sitting practice, this book is what you are looking for. Suzuki-Roshi's gentle words will nudge you back onto the cushions and help you feel that there is some sense in what you are doing. His compassion shines through on every page.
This is a priceless book. Suzuki has managed to distill Dogen's message and present it in a way which is both grounding (one into the moment of reading) and inspiring (one to be ever more aware). I have had this book for many years and it would probably have been the first choice for my Desert Island list.
I am very impressed by the subtlety with which Trudy Dixon managed preserved Suzuki's impishness and her skills in conveying to us his genuine, good and compassionate heart as well as his unyielding dedication to practice. This is no shouting, riddle-making and stick-wielding rinzai guy - no, in these pages we encounter a gentle, self-deprecating and deeply compasionate master who is teaching us the wisdom of being in the moment, and helping us to find beauty in simplicity and kindness. There is a lot of dharma-power behind these words - Suzuki has been responsible for founding perhaps the largest and most successful zen community in the Western hemisphere. Why? because the sincerity and depth of his practice imbued unshakeable faith in zazen practice to anyone who met him, even for a moment. It will do the same for you. I strongly recommend this book .