Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
When California yoga teacher Mary Paffard needs inspiration, she’s likely to reach for an eclectic mix of novels, memoirs, and poetry rather than a yoga book. On a recent trip to Havana, she picked up Daniel Chavarra’s Joy, a spy novel that looks at the CIA and the Miami scene from a pro-Cuban perspective. She also recently enjoyed Ana Maria Matute’s Aranmanoth, which she calls a “poetic, metaphorical love story.”
For anyone wrestling with the joys and difficulties of parenting teenagers, Paffard heartily suggests Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall? by Anthony Wolf. Paffard also recommends Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea, Wes Nisker’s Buddha’s Nature: A Practical Guide to Discovering Your Place in the Cosmos, and Ajahn Sumedho’s The Mind and the Way: Buddhist Reflections of Life.
She calls John Krakauer’s Into Thin Air required reading for yoga teachers who, like expedition guides, lead explorers on thrilling but occasionally dangerous expeditions. “If anyone is going to lead people up the mountain and charge money for it, this is a cautionary tale,” she says.