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Our Top 10 of 2015

Read these for New Year’s resolutions worth keeping

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Compiled image of our top 10 books of 2015

The Jeweled Highway
On the Quest for a Life of Meaning
by Ralph White
Divine Arts

The Ultimate value of this beautiful piece of autobiographical writing is to grant prestige and value to the late-twentieth-century and early-twenty-first-century search for spiritual insight and well-being. I don’t think you’ll doubt the gravitas of spiritual types after you read Ralph’s account of his coming into awareness. You’ll see how a man could be steeped in the culture of his time and yet intelligently transcend the paltry values of his situation in a genuine quest for spiritual integrity. —Thomas Moore

Silence
The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise
By Thich Nhat Hanh
HarperOne

Thich Nhat Hanh presents Buddhist teachings in a way that anyone can intuitively understand. His bestselling books such as Peace Is Every Step, The Miracle of Mindfulness, and True Love all have this simple, primal quality to them as they describe basic practices relating to essential human activities: sitting, walking, breathing, and eating. Hanh’s latest book continues in this tradition. Silence, he tells us, is the basic condition for us to be able to listen to our hearts.  —Sam Mowe

Inside the Miracle
Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness
by Mark Nepo
Sounds True

Spiritual guide Mark Nepo is a consummate storyteller, as evidenced in this collection of essays, poems, and questions for readers which draw on 30 years of reflection on the transformational power of dealing with a traumatic event. Inside the Miracle: Enduring Suffering, Approaching Wholeness, much of which is drawn on Nepo’s personal journal entries during and after his illness, touches on relationships and meditation, art and nature; it is about trying to find connections in the world. —Jennifer Haupt

Wanted
A Spiritual Pursuit through Jail, among Outlaws, and across Borders
By Chris Hoke
HarperOne

“What would Jesus do?” is a question that’s easier to ask and perhaps even answer than it is to live out in our daily lives. Jesus told his disciples to give everything they had to the poor. He called on them to hang out with the dispossessed and the discarded. And he had a bit of an attitude about The Powers That Be. This wondrous memoir tells the evocative story of seven years spent as a jail chaplain and pastor to gang members, undocumented farmworkers, and mentally deranged drug addicts in Washington State’s Skagit Valley. —Don Lattin

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better
Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown
by Pema Chödrön
Sounds True

Based on the commencement address that Chödrön gave at Naropa University in 2014, Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better is a short text that aims to teach readers the “fine art of failing.” The heart of Chödrön’s lesson is that we can practice turning toward the uncomfortable and painful aspects of our experience, rather than turning away from them. —Sam Mowe

Undivided
A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace
By Patricia Raybon and Alana Raybon
Thomas Nelson

In this enlightening work of nonfiction, a mother and daughter try to bridge the chasm that was created when one of them converted to Islam. They are both angry and exhausted, but after the years of hurt and irritation have emerged to finally address their conflict head on. —Kathryn Drury Wagner

A Fearless Heart
How the Courage to Be Compassionate Can Transform Our Lives
By Thupten Jinpa, PhD
Hudson Street Press

In the same way that science was employed to help mindfulness catch on in the West, Jinpa uses findings from the field of contemplative science—which studies the effects of contemplative practices like meditation on health, emotional regulation, and more—to make the case that we are “social creatures endowed with instincts for compassion and kindness.” He tells us that these instincts can be cultivated to help us attain mental and emotional well-being, achieve our goals, and create a more compassionate world. —Sam Mowe

Big Magic
Creative Living Beyond Fear
by Elizabeth Gilbert
Riverhead Books

Gilbert’s book is a soaring ode to the creative process, covering both how it unfolds for her and how terribly frightening it can be to embrace. She writes of courage, and enchantment, and the arrival of ideas like glossy ravens. Every page seems to pulse with urgency and beauty, calling for you to start that novel, pick up that paintbrush, or dance the fandango—right now. —Kathryn Drury Wagner

Shift into Freedom
The Science and Practice of Openhearted Awareness
by Loch Kelly
Sounds True

A meditation teacher and psychotherapist, Kelly offers a way to enter into “open-hearted awareness” through the course of daily life. He distills wisdom, research, and experience and shares practices that help would-be and seasoned meditators access what Kelly describes as “our natural state.” The exercises offered are simple enough to practice in small doses and in those rare and often elusive “open moments” throughout the day. —Kalia Kelmenson

Altruism
The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World
By Matthieu Ricard
Little, Brown

The idea that personal interests motivate all human actions—termed “universal selfishness” by social scientists—has been widely held since the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes presented the individual as a basically selfish being. French-born Tibetan Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard challenges this idea by arguing that altruism—selfless concern for the well-being of others—is real, can be cultivated, and will benefit us personally and globally. —Sam Mowe

5 Greats for 2016:

Miraculous Silence
A Journey to Illumination and Healing through Prayer
by Mitra Rahbar
Tarcher/Penguin

Kindfulness
by Ajahn Brahm
Wisdom Publications

Art of Attention
A Yoga Practice Workbook for Movement as Meditation
by Elena Brower & Erica Jago
Sounds True

In Search of Buddha’s Daughters
A Modern Journey Down Ancient Roads
by Christine Toomey
The Experiment

The Power of Forgiveness
Forgiving as a Path to Freedom
by Joan Gattuso
Tarcher/Penguin
—Kalia Kelmenson


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