Which books would comprise a well-rounded personal library on Buddhism and the Dhamma? Which book or books do you most often go to for reference?
Outside of suttas I think it is impossible to have best resource for everything, if you want to delve into interpretations you need to compare various stuff on interesting you subjects and seek what resonates with you. There will always be people preffering approaches of different various teachers.
Because of that, I think Bhikkhu Sujato & Bhikkhu Brahmali - Authenticity of Early Buddhist Texts is great book, because it points you straight to the suttas and tell you which are authenthic.
authenticity.pdf (1.4 MB)
Also, very importaint book for me was…
Bhikkhu Sujato - Swift Pair of Messengers
Bhikkhu Sujato - A Swift Pair of Messengers.pdf (1.3 MB)
…Because it dispells all most importaint conflicts around various interpretations and shows imo most correct interpretation of the suttas. It is also full of amazing quotes from the suttas. You won’t get lost on the path with this book as a guide. Thank you Ajahn @sujato for writing it, Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu!
Bhikkhu Nanananda - Deliverance of Heart
Deliverance_of_Heart.pdf (1.0 MB)
My favorite book on metta. Shows practice of metta in really spiritual, altruistic, humble, non self-centered way. Also full of sutta quotes. It is also a great remedy for spiritual conceit.
I wouldn’t call the above books necessarily reference books, but you may refer to them!
The most important true reference book I know of is the Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. It’s not actually a dictionary; it’s much more of an encyclopedia. It has an entry for every person, place and sutta in the Pali canon and commentaries. It then gives you citations where you can find that. It will also include lots of basic information you can only find in (often untranslated) commentaries.
There are several online versions of this book, so unless you don’t have an internet connection, there is probably no need to own the physical book. But if you did have the physical book and I walked into your library, I would be impressed.
I prefer physical books so that I can make notations, know where to look for passages and not have to use a screen. I have most of Analayo’s books, some Bhikkhu Bodhi, BDK, other books that I’ve poured over and marked up. I reach for them when I know where I can find what I need.
I’ve seen many references to Choong mun-keat but know nothing about his work. I’ve heard Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge by K.N.Jayatilleke is interesting and I ordered it once, but the seller eventually said they didn’t have it after all and I haven’t looked for it again.
Thank you for links! Do you know if a Swift Pair of messengers and Bhante Sujato’s writings on the Suttas are available in ebook format anywhere?
ETA: I found that Lulu.com has free epubs of Bhante’s books
Re A swift pair of messengers, you can order a physical book here
And the e-book is available here
Exactly, I’ve found Bhante Sujato books first of all on publisher site, Santipada, for example History of Mindfulness is there:
As to Swift Pair of Messengers, the link is inactive right now but surely was active in the past. Anyway I’ve found it probably on the site Viveka has linked (I won’t link again to avoid double post).
You can download from there in many formats, PDF included, which I’ve attached in my post above.
So just type “Sujato” + title of the book in google and you will find it. In the past I was making collection of a lot of dhamma books and I have them on hard drive right now, but I’ve found them all simply using google. They’re creative commons and dhamma dana so you can download them for personal use with clear conscience.