Common Read 2018-19: The Book of Joy

Join CSUSM students, staff, and faculty in our 8th Annual Common Read
“The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World” 
by Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams.



About the book

In 2015, Nobel Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu met with author Douglas Carlton Abrams in Dharamsala, India for a week of collaboration to answer the thematic question of this book, “How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?” Although both have experienced and witnessed horrific events in their lives, they have also been able to find a level of peace, courage, and joy.

The reader is treated to a rare opportunity of spending the week with the two spiritual leaders and listening in as they explore both the nature and the obstacles of true joy. Throughout the book the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu share their stories, their spiritual wisdom, and their scientific views of the joyful practices that anchor their own personal, emotional, and spiritual lives. (adapted from Penguin Random House)


About the authors

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan People and of Tibetan Buddhism. He describes himself as “a simple Buddhist monk” but was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and the US Congressional Gold Medal in 2007. His Holiness was born in 1935 to a poor farming family in northeastern Tibet, but he now lives in exile in Dharamsala, India. The Dalai Lama co-founded the Mind and Life Institute as a way of maintaining an ongoing conversation and collaboration with scientists. He travels the world, promoting kindness and compassion, interfaith understanding, and world peace. For more information, please visit

Desmond Mpilo Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Southern Africa, became a prominent leader in the crusade for justice and racial reconciliation during the South African anti-apartheid movement. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. Along with President Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu was a founding chair of The Elders, a group of global leaders working together for peace and human rights. He is regarded as a leading moral voice and an icon of hope. Throughout his life, he has cared deeply about the needs of people around the world, teaching love and compassion for all. He lives in Cape Town, South Africa. For more information please visit

Douglas Abrams is an author, editor, and literary agent. As founder and president of Idea Architects, Mr. Abrams seeks to help visionaries to create a “wiser, healthier, and more just world”. He has worked with Archbishop Tutu as a cowriter and editor for over a decade on many of Tutu’s books.  Before founding his own literary agency, Mr. Abrams was a senior editor at HarperCollins and also served for nine years as the religion editor at the University of California Press. He lives in Santa Cruz, California. For more information, please visit Peace Prize Laureates His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have survived more than fifty years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression. Despite their hardships—or, as they would say, because of them—they are two of the most joyful people on the planet.

In April 2015, Archbishop Tutu traveled to the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, India, to celebrate His Holiness’s eightieth birthday and to create what they hoped would be a gift for others. They looked back on their long lives to answer a single burning question: How do we find joy in the face of life’s inevitable suffering?

They traded intimate stories, teased each other continually, and shared their spiritual practices. By the end of a week filled with laughter and punctuated with tears, these two global heroes had stared into the abyss and despair of our time and revealed how to live a life brimming with joy.

This book offers us a rare opportunity to experience their astonishing and unprecendented week together, from the first embrace to the final good-bye.

We get to listen as they explore the Nature of True Joy and confront each of the Obstacles of Joy—from fear, stress, and anger to grief, illness, and death. They then offer us the Eight Pillars of Joy, which provide the foundation for lasting happiness. Throughout, they include stories, wisdom, and science. Finally, they share their daily Joy Practices that anchor their own emotional and spiritual lives.

The Archbishop has never claimed sainthood, and the Dalai Lama considers himself a simple monk. In this unique collaboration, they offer us the reflection of real lives filled with pain and turmoil in the midst of which they have been able to discover a level of peace, of courage, and of joy to which we can all aspire in our own lives.

(adapted from Random House Academic Services)



Contact us

For questions, comments, and feedback regarding CSUSM’s Common Read, email  or call 760.750.4333.

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Start Reading Now

The Book of Joy ​is available to all CSUSM students, staff, and faculty:

Check Out a Reserve Copy Borrow a copy for 2 hours or 1 week. Pick up from the 3rd floor Check Out Desk.