The Quantum and the Lotus by Matthieu Ricard and Trinh Xuan Thuan (Broadway, $15).

Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard and astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan explore the connections between science and Buddhist philosophy. Taking a scientific and secular approach, the authors explain the Buddhist theory of emptiness: the concept that all beings and events are relational and therefore have no separate absolute reality. I keep this book on my desk and go back to it often for clarity and inspiration.

My Father's Glory & My Mother's Castle by Marcel Pagnol (North Point, $28).

I have a signed copy of My Father's Glory that was given by Pagnol to my father. The author and filmmaker's story of his youth in the hills of Provence reminds me of many summers I spent there in my early years.

Paul Bocuse's French Cooking (out of print).

This 1976 book, still in print in France as La Cuisine du Marché, was a strong inspiration to both my mother and my childhood self. The book played a big part in fueling my passion for food and cooking. I must have read it a thousand times — I fantasized over every recipe when I should have been doing my homework!

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (Ecco, $16).

Kitchen Confidential was the first book I ever read in English. I love that Tony's world in the kitchen was filled with pirate-like renegades when mine was peopled with regimented professionals. How eye-opening and entertaining to read about the other side!

Cent Éléphants sur un Brin d'Herbe by the Dalai Lama (out of print).

This book, whose title translates as "100 Elephants on a Blade of Grass," begins with His Holiness' moving Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. It was the first serious book on Buddhism that I read, and it inspired me to learn more about the philosophy. I attribute most of the qualities I have today to the spirituality and teachings of His Holiness.

Blunt by Nigel Parry (PowerHouse, $60).

A stunning collection of photos taken by Nigel, who in my opinion is one of the best portrait photographers in the world. He has an unmatched intuition and ability to capture the soul of his subjects.

Eric Ripert is the James Beard Award–winning chef at New York's Le Bernardin and the host of the PBS TV series Avec Eric. His new memoir, 32 Yolks, revisits his childhood and early culinary career in France and Andorra.