Summer Reading List: Transformative Books

Every summer brings lists for the “best beach reads.” What about books that help us stay engaged and inspired throughout the summer? Here’s a list of nonviolence must-reads. Peace to you and happy reading.


Beyond Forgiveness, edited by Phil Cousineau

beyond forgive coverBeyond Forgiveness includes essays by Metta Center’s president, Michael Nagler, and executive director, Stephanie Van Hook. Produced by Metta Center board member Rich Meyer, Beyond Forgiveness shows how acts of atonement—making amends, providing restitution, restoring balance—can relieve us of the pain of the past and give us a hopeful future.

The book contains 15 contributions from high-profile thinkers and activists, including: Huston Smith, Michael Bernard Beckwith, Jacob Needleman, Arun Gandhi. See the Huffington Post article co-authored by Michael Nagler and Phil Cousineau.


Billionaire Buddha, by Rivera Sun

bill buddha coverInspired by a true story, Billionaire Buddha is Rivera Sun’s second novel. As with her first novel, The Dandelion Insurrection, her latest work weaves a story of heart and transformation.

We meet the character Dave Grant, who reaches the pinnacle of financial success only to discover that wealth was not what he really thought it’d be. It’s through Dave Grant’s emotional journey that we dive into the issues of wealth and class, and rebuild our sense of connection and love. Support indie artists: buy your copy directly from the author.


Gandhi the Man: How One Man Changed Himself and the World, by Eknath Easwaran

gandhi man coverEknath Easwaran grew up in India during Gandhi’s time, and his own spiritual awakening was inspired by Gandhi’s life and work. Easwaran sets about answering questions such as: How did an ineffective young lawyer go on to lead 400 million Indians in their nonviolent struggle for independence? What is nonviolence, and how does it work?

Gandhi the Man illustrates the pivotal moments that sparked Gandhi’s rise into a great leader. This biography includes a plethora of photos and quotes.




Love Letter to the Earth, by Thich Nhat Hanh

love letter coverAbout this book, Bill McKibben has said: “Understanding our unbreakable connection to the abstraction we call ‘the environment’ really is the first step to sensible action. In that sense, this is a very practical book!”

In Love Letter, Thich Nhat Hanh urges us to recognize our unity with life,  that we are not separate from that which exists around us. To motivate the kind of action needed to protect our beautiful planet, he calls for mindfulness and a “spiritual revolution.” Love Letter was published by Parallax Press, founded by Thich Nhat Hanh in 1986.




Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, by Erika Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan

Why Civ Res coverNamed as a “Book of the Year” by The Guardian in 2011, Why Civil Resistance Works shows that nonviolent resistance has been twice as effective as violent campaigns. In their research, the authors found that, statistically, nonviolent resistance paves smoother roads to establishing peace and democracy—they invite greater participation and increase resilience.

As Robert Jervis notes in his review of the book: Why Civil Resistance Works is “the first major scholarly book to make a well-supported argument that, contrary to what many people believe, nonviolent resistance is more effective than armed resistance in overthrowing regimes, an advantage that is maintained even when the target is not democratic.”