Having been reading about the Stoics (see my blog on The Stoic Challenge) I moved on earlier in the summer to find out more about Taoism and started with Pocket Taoist Wisdom by Thomas Cleary, which I found in Foyles in Waterloo station in one of my early post-lockdown trips back to London. It is a great brief introduction to the philosophy, explaining the classic Taoist texts and taking you through a number of teaching stories, whetting the appetite to learn more.
After that I moved on to the classic bestsellers from the 1980s and 1990s, which brought Taoism to a mainstream Western audience - The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff. These are fun and easy ways in, with the adventures of Pooh and Piglet from the Hundred Acre Wood used to set out some core Taoist beliefs, and the original E H Shepherd illustrations from Winnie the Pooh making it a joy to read through. Pooh is a wise bear indeed and Piglets’s many mishaps are full of Taoist teachings.
Finally, for my birthday my best friend got me what is considered to be the best translation of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, translated by Stephen Addiss and Stanley Lombardo. It is a beautiful book. The language is so simple and clear, stripped bare of interpretation and explanation. Alongside the texts are fantastic images of Chinese characters, which make it a joy to read. It takes a while for the text to sink in and it is definitely a book that I will return to whenever I need a Taoist top-up.