I need to preface this book recommendation with a disclaimer. There's the old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover." In this case, it's definitely true. I'm about to recommend one of those "Complete Idiot's Guide" books - specifically, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zen Living. Whenever I'm in a bookstore, I always avoid even picking up one of those bright orange colored "Idiot's" books. It's probably an ego thing - I don't want someone to look over seeing me holding a book for an idiot. I prefer to think I'm no idiot. Why would I be reading a book for an idiot?
Well, I must admit, all my prejudices were completely wrong - at least with this one particular book. Several months ago a friend lent me a copy of the Zen Living book and I think it's great. I eventually had to return my friend's copy, but I liked it enough to buy a copy of it this past week. (Actually, I bought two copies - one I gave to another friend.) It's recently been republished as a second edition - I'm not really sure what's been revised other than the cover artwork - it now has a picture of some lotus flowers rather than someone sitting on the beach meditating. But still, if you are curious about the ideas of Zen I'd highly recommend this book. It's written in a very straightforward easy to read manner.
The only minor quibble I have with the book is the overuse of the cutesy named side bar comments that appear on almost every page - "Nirvana Notes," "Monkey Mind," and "One Hand Clapping". It's apparantly a trademark of the Idiot's Guides in general - they have several different side bar categories and give them goofy names, and then plaster them all over the book. I dunno, maybe the publisher thinks idiots like that kind of stuff. I find it annoying.