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Books by Parker J. Palmer
and the Center for Courage & Renewal

On this page you’ll find books by Parker J. Palmer, as well as books sponsored by the Center for Courage & Renewal. For your convenience, click to buy at from these links (we’ll earn a little bit from each sale). indiebound-600x297

We also encourage you to ask for these books at your favorite independent bookstore. See, and if you’re in Seattle like us, buy books at Elliott Bay Bookstore.

Also see books by Courage & Renewal facilitators.

The Courage Way: Leading & Living With Integrity
(Berret-Koehler, 2018) by Shelly L. Francis

Leadership demands courage. You have to make good decisions while balancing inevitable tensions and knowing when to take risks. You need to keep your values in sight, regardless of the pressures around you. At its core, leadership is a daily, ongoing practice, a journey toward becoming your best self and inviting others to do the same. And that’s where The Courage Way comes in. It’s a guide to leadership that shows how to access and draw upon courage in all that you do. It has its roots in the work of Parker J. Palmer, who in fifty years of teaching, speaking, and writing, has explored the human spirit — what he has called “the inner landscape” — and its role in life and leadership.

Read a sample chapter of the The Courage Way here.

Parker-Palmer_Hidden-WholenessA Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life
(Jossey-Bass, 2004) by Parker J. Palmer

A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life addresses four compelling themes: the shape of an integral life, the meaning of community, teaching and learning for transformation, and nonviolent social change. In the opening chapters Parker explores what it means to live an undivided life, one where our inner truth can find expression and value in our outer lives, despite the pressures we may face. In the remaining chapters he articulates with great care the conditions necessary to create “circles of trust,” outlining in considerable detail the approach that we have been using in retreats. He then offers a model of community, based on the principles and practices that can help us embrace nonviolence in everyday life.

Check out the book review on Brain Pickings.
Note, the paperback edition of A Hidden Wholeness includes a
companion DVD with 10 brief talks by Parker and a study guide,
Bringing the Book to Life, by Caryl Hurtig Casbon and Sally Z. Hare.


Parker-Palmer_Let-your-life-speakLet Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation
(Jossey-Bass, 1999) by Parker J. Palmer

In Let Your Life Speak, Parker J. Palmer invites us to listen to the inner teacher and follow its lead toward a sense of meaning and purpose. Telling stories from his own life and the lives of others who have made a difference, he shares insights gained from darkness and depression as well as fulfillment and joy, illuminating a pathway toward vocation for all who seek the true calling of their lives.



Read Chapter 5, Leading From Within.
Check out the book review on Brain Pickings.

See the new Discussion Guide and VideosHealing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit
(Jossey-Bass, 2011, paperback 2014) by Parker J. Palmer
At a critical time in American life, Palmer looks with realism and hope at how to deal with our political tensions for the sake of the common good—without the shouting, blaming, or defaming so common in our civic organizations and faith communities today.

Use the new Discussion Guide & Videos in your community. Explore our Healing Democracy Action Circles for taking action in your own community. Read more about this book…

* A Starred Review from Publishers Weekly* Palmer’s…newest was six years in the making. He bravely takes on the current political climate, with its atrophy of citizen participation, the ascendance of an oligarchy that shapes politics, and the substitution of vituperation for thoughtful public discussion. It’s a tall order that became even taller because Palmer had to climb out of a pit of depression — his constitutional proclivity — to do so. But wrestling with essential questions of public life became therapeutic, and this book provides therapy for the American body politic. Palmer’s use of acute 19th-century observers of American life and character — Tocqueville, Lincoln — as well as his use of anecdotes and lessons from his own long career provide context and tonic. His insights are heart-deep: America gains by living with tension and differences; we can help reclaim public life by actions as simple as walking down the street instead of driving. Hope’s hardly cheap, but history is made up of what Palmer calls “a million invisible acts of courage and the incremental gains that came with them.” This beautifully written book deserves a wide audience that will benefit from discussing it. — August 8, 2011

The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life, 20th Anniversart Edition

(Jossey-Bass, 2017) by Parker J. Palmer

As Parker J. Palmer says in the introduction to the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Courage to Teach, “This book is for teachers who have good days and bad–and whose bad days bring the suffering that comes only from something one loves. It is for teachers who refuse to harden their hearts, because they love learners, learning, and the teaching life.” This 20th Anniversary Edition includes a new foreword by Diana Chapman Walsh, president emerita of Wellesley College, discussing the changes in education since the book was originally published, and the book’s continuing relevance. This new edition includes a reader’s guide for individual study or team-based professional development.

The book builds on a simple premise: good teaching cannot be reduced to technique but is rooted in the identity and integrity of the teacher. Good teaching takes myriad forms but good teachers share one trait: they are authentically present in the classroom, in community with their students and their subject. The connections made by good teachers are held not in their methods but in their hearts – the place where intellect, emotion, spirit, and will converge in the human self – supported by the community that emerges among us when we choose to live authentic lives.

BONUS CONTENT: Visit The Courage to Teach Conversations for a conversation about the inner life of educators between Parker Palmer and his Center for Courage & Renewal colleagues, Marcy Jackson and Estrus Tucker. They reflect on what they have learned from working with thousands of teachers in the Courage to Teach program and with others who yearn for greater integrity in their professional lives.

The Courage to Teach Guide for Reflection and Renewal: 20th Anniversary Edition 
(Jossey-Bass, 2017) by Parker J. Palmer with Megan Scribner

The Courage to Teach Guide for Reflection and Renewal has been thoroughly updated and expanded to help readers reflect on their teaching and renew their sense of vocation. The Guide proposes practical ways to create “safe space” for honest reflection and probing conversation, and offers chapter-by-chapter questions and exercises to explore the many insights in The Courage to Teach.

BONUS CONTENT: Visit The Courage to Teach Conversations to view a set of video interviews with Parker J. Palmer that bring The Courage to Teach alive, originally recorded as a resource for the Center. Palmer reflects on a wide range of subjects including the heart of the teacher, the crisis in education, diverse ways of knowing, relationships in teaching and learning, approaches to institutional transformation, and teachers as “culture heroes.” Discussion questions give you and study groups a chance to have “a conversation with the author” as well as engage with the text.

Sam-Intrator_Stories-of-Courage-to-TeachStories of the Courage to Teach: Honoring the Teacher’s Heart
(Jossey-Bass, 2002) by Sam M. Intrator

Edited by Sam M. Intrator, this book is a collection of essays—written by teachers at every level of practice—that honors the hearts of all teachers who struggle to reconnect with the source of their vocation. These teachers have found ways to serve their students, rekindle their passion for teaching, connect in life-sustaining ways with colleagues, and work towards creating educational institutions that seek to be places that, as Parker J. Palmer writes, “bring more light and life into the world.” Their warm, practical, funny, and wise stories will provide inspiration, companionship, and hope to teachers who strive to reclaim the courage to teach.

Parker-Palmer_The-Heart-of-Higher-EducationThe Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal
(Jossey-Bass, 2010) by Parker J. Palmer and Arthur Zajonc, with Megan Scribner.

A call to advance integrative teaching and learning in higher education, The Heart of Higher Education is for all who are new to the field of holistic education, all who want to deepen their understanding of its challenges, and all who want to practice and promote this vital approach to teaching and learning on their campuses. From Parker Palmer, best-selling author of The Courage to Teach, and Arthur Zajonc, professor of physics at Amherst College and director of the academic program of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, comes this call to revisit the roots and reclaim the vision of higher education. The Heart of Higher Education proposes an approach to teaching and learning that honors the whole human being—mind, heart, and spirit—an essential integration if we hope to address the complex issues of our time. The book offers a rich interplay of analysis, theory, and proposals for action from two educators and writers who have contributed to developing the field of integrative education over the past few decades.

Parker-Palmer_Promise-of-ParadoxThe Promise of Paradox: A Celebration of Contradictions in the Christian Life
(Jossey-Bass, 2008) by Parker J. Palmer

First published in 1980—and reissued here with a feisty new introductory essay, The Promise of Paradox launched Parker J. Palmer’s career as an author and his ongoing exploration of the contradictions that vex and enrich our lives. In this probing and heartfelt book, the distinguished writer, teacher, and activist examines some of the challenging questions at the core of Christian spirituality. How do we live with the apparent opposition between good and evil, scarcity and abundance, individuality and community, death and new life? We can hold them as paradoxes, not “either/ors,” allowing them to open our minds and hearts to new ways of seeing and being.

Parker-Palmer_Active-LifeThe Active Life: A Spirituality of Work, Creativity, and Caring
(Jossey-Bass, 1999) by Parker J. Palmer

The Active Life is Parker J. Palmer’s deep and graceful exploration of a spirituality for the busy, sometimes frenetic lives many of us lead. Telling evocative stories from a variety of religious traditions, including Taoist, Jewish, and Christian, Palmer shows that the spiritual life does not mean abandoning the world but engaging it more deeply through life-giving action. He celebrates both the problems and potentials of the active life, revealing how much they have to teach us about ourselves, the world, and God.

Parker-Palmer_To-Know-As-We-Are-KnownTo Know as We Are Known: Education as a Spiritual Journey
(Harper One, 1993) by Parker J. Palmer

This primer on authentic education explores how mind and heart can work together in the learning process. Moving beyond the bankruptcy of our current model of education, Parker Palmer finds the soul of education through a lifelong cultivation of the wisdom each of us possesses and can share to benefit others.

Parker-Palmer_Company-of-StrangersThe Company of Strangers: Christians & the Renewal of America’s Public Life
(The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1983) by Parker J. Palmer

In this award-winning book, Parker J. Palmer offers a compelling vision of a disciplined inward search that strengthens our commitment to our communities. Palmer reminds us that a truly profound spiritual life leads us toward the God who makes us a community.

Sam-Intrator_Living-The-QuestionsLiving the Questions: Essays Inspired by the Work and Life of Parker J. Palmer
(Jossey-Bass, 2005) by Sam M. Intrator (Editor)

Living the Questions: Essays Inspired by the Work and Life of Parker J. Palmer explores the dynamic interplay between the inner life of spirit and the outer life of work. The distinguished contributors, who come from a wide range of professions — university presidents, scientists, physicians, religious leaders, business consultants, public school educators, philanthropists, and community organizers-bear witness to the depth, breadth and reach of Palmer’s work.

These intimate essays and stories shed new light on some of the most important topics of our time—living an integral life, teaching and learning for transformation, creating community and contributing to non-violent social change.

Teaching with Heart: Poetry that Speaks to the Courage to Teach (Jossey-Bass, May 2014) by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner, editors

Our newest poetry collection salutes the tenacious and relentless optimism of teachers and their belief that despite the many challenges and obstacles of the teaching life, much is possible. In this book, a diverse group of ninety teachers describe the complex of emotions and experiences of the teaching life – joy, outrage, heartbreak, hope, commitment and dedication.
Read more about this new book!

See more poetry resources.

Courage-Renewal_Teaching-With-FireTeaching with Fire: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach
(Jossey-Bass, 2003) by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner, editors

Those of us who care about the young and their education must find ways to remember what teaching and learning are really about. We must find ways to keep our hearts alive as we serve our students. Poetry has the power to keep us vital and focused on what really matters in life and in schooling. Teaching with Fire is a wonderful collection of eighty-eight poems from such well-loved poets as Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes, Billy Collins, Emily Dickinson, and Pablo Neruda. Each of these evocative poems is accompanied by a brief story from a teacher explaining the significance of the poem in his or her life’s work. This beautiful book also includes an essay that describes how poetry can be used to grow both personally and professionally.

pdf  A Reader’s Guide for Teaching with Fire
(2005) Compiled by Megan Scribner

We have heard from many educators who feel honored and inspired by the stories and poems in Teaching with Fire. This Reader’s Companion is a compendium of ideas on how to use poetry to inspire, to teach, to work with others, and to create community.

Sam-Intrator_Leading-From-WithinLeading from Within: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Lead
(Jossey-Bass, 2007) by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner, editors

Leading from Within is a wonderful collection of ninety-three poems from well-loved poets, each of which is accompanied by a brief personal commentary from a leader explaining the significance and meaning of the poem in his or her life and work. The contributors represent a wide range of professions including Vanguard Group founder John Bogle, co-founder Joan Blades, several members of Congress, Christian activist Brian McLaren, business guru Peter Senge, and many other leaders from business, medicine, education, nonprofits, law, politics and government, and religion. In their reflections, these leaders explore how they have been inspired by poets such as T.S. Eliot, Mary Oliver, William Stafford, Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda, Robert Frost, Rumi, May Sarton, Wallace Stevens, Wendell Berry, and Rainer Maria Rilke.

Parker-Palmer_An-Undivided_LifeAn Undivided Life: Seeking Wholeness in Ourselves, Our Work & Our World
(2009) Audio Recording of Parker J. Palmer with Tami Simon

We all yearn for a life that is whole — where “soul and role” are aligned, and our innermost wisdom guides are actions.  In this 5-hour set of CD’s from Sounds True,  Palmer shares some of his most personal lessons and profound insights gained from a lifetime of faithful inquiry.  This open and honest conversation explores the power of paradox to find meaning in the darkness and light of life’s experiences, how to live creatively in “the tragic gap” — the space between hard realities and what we know to be possible, how understanding our inner dynamics can help us make choices that are life-giving for ourselves and others, as well as timeless wisdom and guidance to help you discern, trust, and follow your authentic self at home, in your work, and in the world.

Virginia-Lee_New-Directions-for-Teaching-LearningNew Directions for Teaching and Learning – Special Issue: Teaching and Learning from the Inside Out: Revitalizing Ourselves and Our Institutions, Number 130, Summer 2012.
(Wiley Periodicals, Inc., A Wiley Company, 2012) Edited by Margaret Golden

This academic periodical devoted their entire summer volume to the Circles of Trust approach in education. Editor-in-chief Catherine M. Wehlburg writes “Even though most in higher education started with feelings of hope and passion for their subject and for teaching, these feelings can sometimes be lost over time as political battles, accreditation issues, state mandates, and problems with people take center stage. This volume of NDTL helps to remind us that the connections we have with ourselves, our students, our colleagues, and our disciplines are truly important and meaningful–and should take precedence over these other smaller issues.” Read more…