In my opinion, you can learn a lot more about Buddhism by reading the sutras yourself, rather than reading someone else’s interpretation of them. If you go to any bookstore in the US, a lot of books about Buddhism are written by famous teachers, who teach you how to be happy and such. But if you only read these books, you’re relying on their interpretation.
Instead, RTFM: read the friendly manual.1
It helps a lot to read the sutras left behind by the Buddha and his disciples. One or two isn’t enough. If you read enough of them, you can “read between the lines” and get a feel for what Buddhism is about. Then, when you read books by famous teachers, you can appreciate them more.
Even famous Zen masters, such as Hakuin, spent time studying the sutras. In Hakuin’s case, he said he learned a lot from studying the Lotus Sutra, while Honen of Pure Land Buddhism learned a lot from reading the Immeasurable Life Sutra. Kukai of the Shingon sect learned a great deal from reading the Maha-Vairocana Sutra, and it drove him to go to China, where he learned the critical esoteric teachings.
Everyone is different, and everyone has different tastes. So, one sutra might not interest you, but another will more impact. That’s normal. But the time spent is a good investment.
P.S. For those not familiar, the scene above is a painting about the Old-Testament Bible story where Moses smashes the Ten Commandments in frustration. ‘RTFM’ and ‘noobz’ are internet slang of course. 😉
1 I changed the meaning of RTFM a bit, to be more…….friendly. 😉