10 Best Alan Watts Books 2024 (updated)

Which are the best books by Alan Watts? 

Alan Watts (1915-1973) was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker who popularized Eastern philosophy and spirituality in the Western world. 

He was born in Chislehurst, England, and developed an interest in Asian philosophies from an early age. Watts studied theology and earned a master’s degree from the University of London.

In the late 1930s, Alan Watts became intrigued by the philosophies of Zen Buddhism and began exploring their teachings. 

He moved to the United States in 1938, where he eventually became a renowned interpreter and advocate of Eastern philosophies, particularly Zen Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism.

He published numerous books on topics such as spirituality, psychology, mysticism, and philosophy. Some of his well-known works include “The Way of Zen,” “The Wisdom of Insecurity,” and “The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.” 

List of Top 10 Best Alan Watts Books

I have made a list of Top 10 books by Alan Watts that will help you in your journey. Keep reading..!

1. The Way of Zen (1957)

The Way of Zen” is one of Alan Watts’ most influential works. In this book, Watts explores the philosophy and practice of Zen Buddhism, introducing readers to its origins, principles, and meditation techniques. 

He delves into the historical development of Zen, tracing its roots in Chinese and Japanese culture and explaining its fundamental concepts, such as the importance of direct experience and the concept of “satori,” or sudden enlightenment. 

Through clear and accessible language, he demystifies Zen Buddhism and highlights its relevance to contemporary Western society, encouraging readers to cultivate a direct and intuitive understanding of reality.

Get the book here: The Way of Zen

2. The Wisdom of Insecurity (1951)

The Wisdom of Insecurity” tackles the pervasive issue of anxiety and the quest for security in an uncertain world. Watts challenges the common belief that security can be found through external circumstances or future achievements. 

He argues that true security lies in embracing the present moment fully and accepting the inherent uncertainty of life. 

Watts explores the psychological traps of living in the past or future, advocating for a focus on the present as the only moment that truly exists. 

Get the book here: The Wisdom of Insecurity

3. The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are (1966)

The Book” presents Watts’ exploration of the nature of self and the illusion of separateness. He challenges the conventional notion of a separate individual self and argues that the boundaries we perceive between ourselves and the world are mere constructs. 

Watts explores Eastern philosophical concepts, such as Vedanta and Buddhism, to shed light on the interconnectedness of all things. He suggests that our identity is not limited to the individual ego but encompasses the entirety of existence. 

By breaking through the taboo of recognizing our true nature, Watts invites readers to transcend the limitations of the ego and experience a profound sense of unity with the universe. 

Get the book here: The Book

4. Become What You Are (1955)

Become What You Are” draws upon both Eastern philosophies and Western psychology to explore the nature of self and the path to self-realization. Watts emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and authenticity in living a fulfilling life. 

He encourages readers to examine their conditioning and social roles, urging them to break free from societal expectations and discover their true selves. By embracing one’s inherent nature, Watts argues, individuals can find joy and fulfillment. 

He explores the concepts of “wu wei” (effortless action) from Taoism and “non-striving” from Zen Buddhism, highlighting the significance of being in the present moment. 

Get the book here: Become What You Are

5. The Joyous Cosmology (1962)

The Joyous Cosmology” is a captivating exploration of the potential of psychedelic substances, such as LSD, in expanding human consciousness and facilitating transcendent experiences. 

Alan Watts delves into the effects of these substances on the mind, emphasizing the importance of set and setting in creating transformative experiences. 

He shares personal anecdotes and reflections on his own encounters with psychedelics, offering a unique perspective on their impact on perception, spirituality, and the nature of reality. 

Get the book here: The Joyous Cosmology

6. Nature, Man, and Woman (1958)

In “Nature, Man, and Woman,” Alan Watts explores the relationship between humanity and the natural world, drawing upon Taoist philosophy, as well as other Eastern traditions. 

He delves into the complementary forces of yin and yang and discusses their manifestation in human life, society, and relationships. 

Watts examines the roles of masculinity and femininity, challenging conventional notions and encouraging a more harmonious and balanced understanding. 

Get the book here: Nature, Man, and Woman

7. The Watercourse Way (1975)

The Watercourse Way,” published posthumously, is a profound exploration of the principles and practice of Taoism. 

Alan Watts draws from ancient texts, such as the Tao Te Ching, to illuminate the concepts of the Tao (the Way) and its embodiment in nature and human life. 

He discusses the importance of spontaneity, non-interference, and the natural flow of events, encouraging readers to align themselves with the subtle currents of existence. 

Get the book here: The Watercourse Way

8. Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown: A Mountain Journal (1973)

Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown” is a collection of essays that reflects Alan Watts’ contemplations on various aspects of life, philosophy, and spirituality. 

Written in a diary-like format, the book covers topics such as meditation, the nature of reality, and the limitations of language in expressing profound experiences. 

Watts explores the interplay between the human mind and the natural world, offering insights into the quest for self-discovery and the pursuit of inner peace. 

Get the book here: Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown

9. Out of Your Mind (2004)

Out of Your Mind” is not a book in the traditional sense but an audio collection that presents a compilation of lectures and talks by Alan Watts. 

The collection features recordings from various periods of Watts’ career, allowing listeners to delve into his captivating spoken word performances. 

Released posthumously, this audio collection provides an immersive experience of Watts’ teachings and allows individuals to explore his profound insights and philosophical musings on a wide range of topics.

Get the book here: Out of Your Mind

10. In My Own Way (1973)

In My Own Way” is considered one of Alan Watts’ most personal and introspective works. In this autobiographical book, Watts reflects on his own life journey, providing insights into his experiences, influences, and philosophical development. 

He shares stories and anecdotes from his childhood, education, travels, and encounters with various spiritual traditions. “In My Own Way” offers a glimpse into Watts’ personal struggles, his quest for meaning, and the evolution of his philosophical worldview. T

Get the book here: In My Own Way


Who was Alan Watts?

Alan Watts was a British philosopher, writer, and speaker known for his popularization of Eastern philosophy and spirituality in the Western world. 

What are some of Alan Watts’ most famous books?

Some of Alan Watts’ most famous books include “The Way of Zen,” “The Wisdom of Insecurity,” and “The Joyous Cosmology.”

Where should I start if I want to read Alan Watts’ books?

A good starting point would be “The Way of Zen” or “The Wisdom of Insecurity.”

Where can I find Alan Watts’ lectures and talks?

Many of Alan Watts’ lectures and talks are available in audio and video formats. They can be found online on various platforms.

What were Alan Watts’ main teachings?

Alan Watts emphasized the interconnectedness of all things, the illusion of separateness, and the importance of embracing the present moment.


Alan Watts’ unique ability to bridge Eastern and Western thought, coupled with his engaging speaking style and sense of humor, made his lectures and talks captivating to listeners. 

His teachings continue to inspire and influence people worldwide, leaving a lasting impact on Western spirituality, psychology, and the New Age movement.

With the availability of audio and video recordings, as well as his written works, individuals can explore and engage with Watts’ profound insights, gaining a deeper understanding of his philosophical worldview and the wisdom he shared.


"As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases"