The Lady and the Monk

By Pico Iyer,

Book cover of The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto

Book description

When Pico Iyer decided to go to Kyoto and live in a monastery, he did so to learn about Zen Buddhism from the inside, to get to know Kyoto, one of the loveliest old cities in the world, and to find out something about Japanese culture today -- not the…

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why read it?

3 authors picked The Lady and the Monk as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Iyer’s prose is beautiful, and he’s best known for his travel writing. In this book, he stays put, living in Japan and immersing himself in Zen and the pleasures of traditional life in Kyoto. He also meets his wife, and the combination of cultural study and personal memoir makes for an absolutely lovely read. 

From Brett's list on books about living abroad in Asia.

Fêted essayist and travel scribe Pico Iyer is smitten in this account of his first year living in Japan. He comes to study the mysteries of Zen at a monastery in Kyoto, but the lofty quest doesn’t last long. Everything changes for the young narrator when he meets and falls in love with the lady of the book’s title who would later become his wife. Alongside telling the tale of this budding romance, Iyer delicately shares his wide-eyed discovery of Japan, from the quirky to the sublime, making the book a love letter of sorts to the country itself. Even…

Pico Iyer is a noted travel writer with a gift for capturing the spirit of place. In this fictionalised version of time spent in the city, he captures many of its salient aspects. The seasonal round, the Zen tradition, the sense of transience, the allure of Japanese arts. I found myself nodding in recognition of the many insights that pepper his prose. The only book that compares with it is Kawabata’s Koto (The Old Capital), less substantial and wreathed in nostalgia.

From John's list on understanding Kyoto.

Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

Book cover of Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

Sam Baldwin Author Of For Fukui’s Sake: Two years In Rural Japan

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Author Snow lover Fish out of water Traveller

Sam's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house, but what was meant as a pitstop becomes life-changing when he decides to stay. Along the way, he meets a colourful cross-section of Slovene society: from dormouse hunters, moonshine makers, beekeepers, and bitcoin miners, to a man who swam the Amazon, and a hilltop matriarch who teaches him the meaning of being 'priden'.

Struggling with Slovene, a language with grammar so complex it can cause brain damage, and battling bureaucracy, he explores the culture and characters of this underappreciated ex-Yugoslav republic, its wild beauty, and its wild animals.

A love letter to Slovenia, this rare, adventurous account follows a foreigner trying to build a new life — and rebuild an old house — in a young country still finding its own place in the world.

Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

What is this book about?

'Charming, funny, insightful, and moving. The perfect book for any Slovenophile' - Noah Charney, BBC presenter

'A rollicking and very affectionate tour' - Steve Fallon, author of Lonely Planet Slovenia

'Delivers discovery and adventure...captivating!' - Bartosz Stefaniak, editor, 3 Seas Europe

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house but what was meant as…


Want books like The Lady and the Monk?

Our community of 10,000+ authors has personally recommended 100 books like The Lady and the Monk.

Browse books like The Lady and the Monk

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Kyoto, Japan, and zen?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Kyoto, Japan, and zen.

Kyoto Explore 22 books about Kyoto
Japan Explore 484 books about Japan
Zen Explore 86 books about zen