The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Zen Living attempts to introduce the concept and practice of Zen living. If you’ve ever picked up a Complete Idiot’s Guide book, you know they follow a format designed to make highly complex topics very readable for the average person.


If you’re familiar with this series you’ll immediately know what to expect from this book. These books are very structured, with many headings and subheadings so the reader knows exactly what to expect from each chapter and each chapter has “call outs” that the authors consider key points. In fact, the reader could almost gather the important information simply by reading the call outs.  In this case, Cautions are boxed and headlined as Monkey Mind, and important notes are boxed and called Nirvana Notes.


This Guide covers what Zen is, and what it isn’t, and provides practical information on meditation. There are helpful chapters on relationships, work, work relationships and career. It’s very down to earth, very readable and a good introduction to Zen. I enjoyed the book, there’s often some humor interjected in the writing but it is not designed to be the final word on Zen. If you have practiced Zen or are beyond a beginner’s interest in the topic, you’ll want to delve further into other works.


~review by Karen Phillippi

Authors: Gary R. McClain, Ph.D and Eve Adamson

Alpha Books, 2004

pp. 336, $16.95