The Last Arrow: Save Nothing for the Next Life by Erwin Raphael McManusWhat it is: Author Erwin McManus, the founder of Mosaic, a Los Angeles Christian community, exhorts the faithful to give their best efforts to serving God and the needs of others. This spiritual autobiography builds on the story of Elijah and Elisha from the Hebrew scriptures, as McManus provides examples of where a leap of faith can take you.
Is it for you? For Christians, the book's real-life illustrations and scriptural basis are thought-provoking and inspirational.
The Dharma of The Princess Bride: What the Coolest Fairy Tale of Our Time Can Teach Us by Ethan NichternWhat it is: Buddhist teachings about life (dharma) get a popular culture boost from the cult classic film The Princess Bride. Focusing on friendships, romantic relationships, and family, Buddhist teacher Ethan Nichtern makes the dharma fun and accessible.
Is it for you? You don't need to be a film geek or a Buddhist. Even if you haven't seen the movie dozens of times (like Nichtern), you'll find insights you can apply to your own relationships. Those who haven't seen it might want to view it before reading this book.
The Encore: A Memoir in Three Acts by Charity Tillemann-DickWhat it is: a moving and inspiring memoir by acclaimed classical artist Charity Tillemann-Dick, a soprano who underwent two complete lung transplants and succeeded in building a successful career. She vividly depicts her large Mormon family, whose support helped her pull through.
Who might enjoy it: fans of classical music, people of faith, and readers who enjoy uplifting medical memoirs.
The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie GlassmanWhat it is: a dialogue about many aspects of Zen between film star Jeff Bridges and his Buddhist teacher, Bernie Glassman. Using accessible examples from American popular culture, they lightheartedly consider how to deal with change, promote peace, end hunger, and other serious issues.
Follow up: Watch The Big Lebowski (or see it again). For a more traditional introduction to practical Zen Buddhism, try Jack Kornfeld's The Art of Forgiveness.
A Force for Good by Daniel GolemanWhat it's about: Psychologist Daniel Goleman applies his research on emotional intelligence to the Dalai Lama's philosophy of compassion and action.
Starring: the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, who is the leader of Tibetan Buddhists and exiled head of the Tibetan people. He discusses how his monastic training guides his views of the world and the choices he makes.
What you might like: The Dalai Lama's sense of humor shines, along with his wisdom, in this practical interpretation of Buddhist precepts.
Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Thich Nhat HanhWhat it is: an inspirational discussion of the importance of silence as an antidote to psychological and environmental noise.
Key insight: Buddhist meditation promotes mindfulness and deep listening, helping you follow the Bodhisattva path to enlightenment.
About the author: The internationally acclaimed Vietnamese Buddhist monk writes straightforward and accessible books on meditation practice and its benefits.
Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey by Marie Mutsuki MockettWhat it's about: Author Marie Mutsuki Mockett vividly and movingly relates her visit to Japan after the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant explosion followed by a tsunami. In this spiritual memoir, Mockett, who was already mourning her Japanese grandfather's death, portrays the widespread grief in Japan for those lost to the sequential disasters.
Read it for: Mockett's account of her own gradual healing draws readers into Japanese Buddhist culture, which connects deeply with a common human desire to maintain contact with the dead.
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