Yesterday I drove to the state capital, Montgomery, and while there visited the main branch library. I noticed they offered several versions of the Dhammapada, one of the oldest and most accessible portions of Buddhist scripture. It contains some 400+ verses; short aphorisms on the way of enlightenment. Compasssion, self-discipline, and meditation are mainstay themes of the verses. The wisdom expressed here is universal: you don't need an education in Buddhism to grasp the essential messages. On the off chance that you are utterly and completely ignorant as to what Buddhism is about, this translation comes with an introduction that sets things in context and is fully annotated to explain themes in Buddhist thought, or references to Indian culture those outside it might miss. The authors also occasionally include quotations from other Buddhist sources (other works, as well as living teachers like the Dalai Lama), separated from the main text, so that readers may examine a theme from multiple angles. The combined result is a great success. When I decide to purchase a copy of the Dhammapada for future reference and inspiration, this will be the version I will look for.