The best books to make you rethink life and learning

Who am I?

I’ve been meditating for thirty years, leading meditations with students for the last decade, and most recently working with teachers to explore how they can deepen the experiences of their students by engaging in their inner lives. This work, as well as my own experiences in the classroom as an educator, makes the topic ideal for me to explore and share more about.

I wrote...

Healing Breath: A Guided Meditation Through Nature for Kids

By William Meyer, Brittany R. Jacobs (illustrator),

Book cover of Healing Breath: A Guided Meditation Through Nature for Kids

What is my book about?

This is a beautifully illustrated guided meditation for kids. It connects them to a deeper sense of self as well as the natural world around them. 

Join the award-winning team of writer and teacher Bill Meyer and illustrator Brittany R. Jacobs on a guided meditation journey through rich, colorful landscapes spanning the globe. Breathe into the experience of waves on the ocean, trees in a forest, and the warmth of a desert, and feel your connection to all of life, from barnacles to baboons to falcons to farmers. This magical meditation-in-a-book is ideal for anyone who wants to simultaneously calm down and rise up to the world in all its wonders.

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The books I picked & why

Love and Living

By Thomas Merton,

Book cover of Love and Living

Why did I love this book?

This was one of the last pieces Merton wrote before his life was cut short in 1967 and I believe that he outlined both the problems with education in the modern world as well as a possible solution in an accessible way. I often go back to the first chapter in this work as a foundation for my own understanding of teaching and learning. It is truly inspiring!

By Thomas Merton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Love and Living as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A posthumously published collection of Merton’s essays and meditations centering on the need for love in learning to live. “Love is the revelation of our deepest personal meaning, value, and identity.” Edited by Naomi Burton Stone and Brother Patrick Hart.

Book cover of Happy Teachers Change the World: A Guide for Cultivating Mindfulness in Education

Why did I love this book?

This book seems to be even more relevant today after the recent passing of Thich Nhat Hanh. Hanh was truly a groundbreaking monastic and peace activist. He introduced mindfulness to the west as well as the concept of “engaged contemplation.” I think Hanh’s book, Happy Teachers is the ultimate toolkit for bringing these practices fully into the classroom. It is so much more than just mindfulness, but a new way of seeing one’s own teaching and practice.

By Thich Nhat Hanh, Katherine Weare,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Happy Teachers Change the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Happy Teachers Change the World is the first official, authoritative manual of the Thich Nhat Hanh/Plum Village approach to mindfulness in education. Spanning the whole range of schools and grade levels, from preschool through higher education, these techniques are grounded in the everyday world of schools, colleges, and universities.

Beginning firmly with teachers and all those working with students, including administrators, counselors, and other personnel, the Plum Village approach stresses that educators must first establish their own mindfulness practice since everything they do in the classroom will be based on that foundation. The book includes easy-to-follow, step-by-step techniques perfected by…

The Pilgrimage: A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom

By Paulo Coelho, Julia Sanches (translator),

Book cover of The Pilgrimage: A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom

Why did I love this book?

This book actually preceded the more famous Alchemist written by Paolo Coelho, but served as its inspiration. It is one of two autobiographical works by Coelho and recounts his journey across Northern Spain along the medieval pilgrimage route to Santiago. When Coelho walked the road in the 1980s, it was neglected and almost entirely forgotten. His work has inspired hundreds of thousands to revisit that magical path! I was fortunate enough to walk the road in 2007 and I credit that experience to reading The Pilgrimage at 15.

By Paulo Coelho, Julia Sanches (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Pilgrimage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this gripping story, Paulo Coelho is on a quest for the ultimate in self-knowledge, wisdom and spiritual mastery.

Guided by his mysterious companion Petrus, he takes the road to Santiago, going through a series of trials and tests along the way, even coming face to face with someone who may just be the devil himself. Why is the road to the simple life so hard? Will Paulo be strong enough to complete the journey towards humility, belief and faith?

The Pilgrimage paved the way to Paulo Coehlo's international best-selling novel The Alchemist. In many ways, these two volumes are…

Book cover of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Why did I love this book?

Clear provides a very clear roadmap and explanation to why some habits seem to stick and others can’t even get started. I’ve used his suggestions in my own teaching and work with teachers. I think it is best captured in three simple ideas: keep them simple, small, and consistent. At the end of the day, a great book to just remind you of what is of value and what is no longer serving you.

By James Clear,

Why should I read it?

19 authors picked Atomic Habits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The #1 New York Times bestseller. Over 4 million copies sold!

Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving--every day. James Clear, one of the world's leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don't want to change, but because you have the…

Book cover of Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

Why did I love this book?

Teaching to Transgress is a powerful work by hooks that really taps into the power and potential of teaching. This work is in the lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh, but offers way more than just a take on mindfulness. Hooks seems to understand how intentional reflection can be used as a powerful tool for real change in the classroom.

By bell hooks,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Teaching to Transgress as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"After reading Teaching to Transgress I am once again struck by bell hooks's never-ending, unquiet intellectual energy, an energy that makes her radical and loving." -- Paulo Freire

In Teaching to Transgress,bell hooks--writer, teacher, and insurgent black intellectual--writes about a new kind of education, education as the practice of freedom. Teaching students to "transgress" against racial, sexual, and class boundaries in order to achieve the gift of freedom is, for hooks, the teacher's most important goal.

bell hooks speaks to the heart of education today: how can we rethink teaching practices in the age of multiculturalism? What do we do…

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