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.

The books I picked & why

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Love and Living

By Thomas Merton,

Book cover of Love and Living

Why 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!


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

By Thich Nhat Hanh, Katherine Weare,

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

Why 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.


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 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.


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

By James Clear,

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

Why 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.


Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom

By bell hooks,

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

Why 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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in pilgrimages, spirituality, and mindfulness?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about pilgrimages, spirituality, and mindfulness.

Pilgrimages Explore 16 books about pilgrimages
Spirituality Explore 155 books about spirituality
Mindfulness Explore 67 books about mindfulness

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Teaching Critical Thinking: Practical Wisdom, Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction, and Food Triggers: Exchanging Unhealthy Patterns for God-Honoring Habits if you like this list.