Saffron Days in L.A. : Tales of a Buddhist Monk in America Bhante Walpola Piyananda
In this book, Bhante Walpola Piyananda, a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka, shares his experiences of life in America. He dedicates each chapter to a different story, many of which take place in Los Angeles. His calm, mindful demeanor is infectious, and I observed a positive change in my own thought patterns in the days that I devoted to reading his stories.
The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined Salman Khan
Written by the founder of Khan Academy, this book focuses on our current, mainstream education system. In addition to describing his own experiences tutoring, Khan delves into the history of institutionalized education and how our current system has evolved. He claims that aspects of the system are outmoded and that we need to question its most fundamental aspects, the ones that we have come to view as "given" and the default. For me, a twenty-something who has spent nearly all of her life in school, every sentence in this book rings with truth and it has been helpful in contextualizing my experience and restructuring my thinking around the value of my own education.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment Eckhart Tolle
Cleverly disguised as the cheesiest of new age self-help books, this is one of the most life-altering books I have read. It is empowering to feel a sense of control over my own mind, and this book presents valuable strategies for cultivating peacefulness and contentment through returning to the present moment. The way that Tolle describes mindfulness is more accessible than any other text I have found. Lately I have been working through my own issues with depression and anxiety, and practicing his strategies has been more effective in changing my thought patterns than any other type of treatment.