100 books like Autumn Light

By Pico Iyer,

Here are 100 books that Autumn Light fans have personally recommended if you like Autumn Light. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Roads to Sata: A 2000-mile walk through Japan

Jonathan DeHart Author Of Moon Japan: Plan Your Trip, Avoid the Crowds, and Experience the Real Japan

From my list on evoking a deep, personal discovery of Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Tokyo-based writer who first came to Japan during university to live with a host family and study the language. After a stint in Shanghai, Japan brought me back in 2012 and I’ve lived here ever since. I’ve cycled across remote Okinawan islands, wandered Kyoto’s cobblestone lanes, and trekked to mountaintop temples in heavy snow. But some of my best memories have happened over homemade plum wine at a friend’s dinner table. I’ve written two books published by Moon Travel Guides and countless articles on Asia, with some being chosen for “best of” lists by The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, and Real Clear World

Jonathan's book list on evoking a deep, personal discovery of Japan

Jonathan DeHart Why did Jonathan love this book?

This travelogue brilliantly narrates Alan Booth’s southward trek across Japan, end to end, from Cape Soya in Hokkaido to Cape Sata in Kyushu. The book’s subtitle, A 2,000 Mile Walk Through Japan, speaks volumes. The journey, which some would call masochistic, is practically measured in blisters. We see Booth, fluent in Japanese, trudge through rain and shine along backcountry roads, from greasy spoons to lonesome karaoke bars, collapsing into countless futons along the way. His journey comes to life with colorful characters, boozy local festivals, and pithy realizations about his adopted homeland, at turns entertaining, illuminating, and hilarious. For me, this book captures the joy of discovering the salty, unexpected side of Japan. It also cements Booth’s status as one of the (unsung) travel writing greats.  

By Alan Booth,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Roads to Sata as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A memorable, oddly beautiful book' Wall Street Journal

'A marvellous glimpse of the Japan that rarely peeks through the country's public image' Washington Post

One sunny spring morning in the 1970s, an unlikely Englishman set out on a pilgrimage that would take him across the entire length of Japan. Travelling only along small back roads, Alan Booth travelled on foot from Soya, the country's northernmost tip, to Sata in the extreme south, traversing three islands and some 2,000 miles of rural Japan. His mission: 'to come to grips with the business of living here,' after having spent most of his…


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

Brett Dakin Author Of Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos

From my list on books about living abroad in Asia.

Why am I passionate about this?

Right after college, I lived abroad in Asia, in the small, landlocked country of Laos. A key theme of the book is the role of the U.S. in the world. During the Vietnam War, Laos was subject to a massive bombing campaign by the U.S., and decades later, the country was still coping with the effects. As unexploded bombs continued to kill people every year, how would my colleagues and neighbors react to an American living among them? The book is mainly about the joys of navigating another culture, and while Laos is unique, I’ve read a lot of books about living abroad in Asia, and common themes certainly emerge.

Brett's book list on books about living abroad in Asia

Brett Dakin Why did Brett love this book?

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. 

By Pico Iyer,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Lady and the Monk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 world of businessmen and production lines, but the traditional world of changing seasons and the silence of temples, of the images woven through literature, of the lunar Japan that still lives on behind the rising sun of geopolitical power.

All this he did. And then he met Sachiko.

Vivacious, attractive,…


Book cover of Lost Japan: Last Glimpse of Beautiful Japan

Chiara Terzuolo Author Of Hidden Japan: A guidebook to Tokyo & beyond

From my list on books before visiting Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been studying Japanese since 2008, studied in the country twice, and then finally made my home here in 2011. Over the years, I have been to 43 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, writing articles about my experiences and constantly searching for new, hidden places where I could still find a touch of the Japan of yore. With so many people visiting the country, I want to do my part to give folks options that are off the beaten path and away from the crowds. 

Chiara's book list on books before visiting Japan

Chiara Terzuolo Why did Chiara love this book?

So many people come to Japan hoping to see the twisty streets lined with traditional wooden houses and little manicured gardens and feel a bit let down when they realize how much of it has been lost. I was (and in a way still am) one of those people.

Earthquakes, war, and a love for the new have caused much of the Japanese landscape to lose its traditional views. While at some points a little out of date, Kerr has a wonderful way of capturing the beauty of the old and how the new has taken hold. This is not an uplifting book, but it does give a wonderful insight into some of the more closed worlds within Japanese society, as well. 

By Alex Kerr,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lost Japan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An enchanting and fascinating insight into Japanese landscape, culture, history and future.

Originally written in Japanese, this passionate, vividly personal book draws on the author's experiences in Japan over thirty years. Alex Kerr brings to life the ritualized world of Kabuki, retraces his initiation into Tokyo's boardrooms during the heady Bubble Years, and tells the story of the hidden valley that became his home.

But the book is not just a love letter. Haunted throughout by nostalgia for the Japan of old, Kerr's book is part paean to that great country and culture, part epitaph in the face of contemporary…


Book cover of The Inland Sea

Jonathan DeHart Author Of Moon Japan: Plan Your Trip, Avoid the Crowds, and Experience the Real Japan

From my list on evoking a deep, personal discovery of Japan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Tokyo-based writer who first came to Japan during university to live with a host family and study the language. After a stint in Shanghai, Japan brought me back in 2012 and I’ve lived here ever since. I’ve cycled across remote Okinawan islands, wandered Kyoto’s cobblestone lanes, and trekked to mountaintop temples in heavy snow. But some of my best memories have happened over homemade plum wine at a friend’s dinner table. I’ve written two books published by Moon Travel Guides and countless articles on Asia, with some being chosen for “best of” lists by The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, and Real Clear World

Jonathan's book list on evoking a deep, personal discovery of Japan

Jonathan DeHart Why did Jonathan love this book?

Written by the 20th century’s leading interpreter of things Japanese, this travel memoir has a timeless, elegiac quality. Donald Richie lived in Tokyo, but he based this work on a series of trips through the waterways and fishing villages of the glittering Inland Sea. Beyond his beautiful sketches of the seascape itself, his warm, human interactions with fishermen, aunties, merchants, and monks give voice to a disappearing side of Japan. They also serve as a mirror into the metaphorical inland sea within himself––the good, bad, and ugly––which he freely reveals. Seeing the world Richie describes vanish evermore in the decades since, the book’s resonance only grows with age. This is why I find myself diving back into it again and again.

By Donald Richie, Yoichi Midorikawa (photographer),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Inland Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"An elegiac prose celebration ...a classic in its genre."-Publishers Weekly In this acclaimed travel memoir, Donald Richie paints a memorable portrait of the island-studded Inland Sea. His existential ruminations on food, culture, and love and his brilliant descriptions of life and landscape are a window into an Old Japan that has now nearly vanished. Included are the twenty black and white photographs by Yoichi Midorikawa that accompanied the original 1971 edition. Donald Richie (1924-2013) was an internationally recognized expert on Japanese culture and film. Yoichi Midorikawa (1915-2001) was one of Japan's foremost nature photographers.


Book cover of Dance Like a Leaf

Nancy Bo Flood Author Of Walking Grandma Home

From my list on loss, grief, and healing.

Why am I passionate about this?

Nancy Bo Flood earned her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology and Child Development at the University of Minnesota and has authored a variety of award-winning booksWalking Grandma Home came from her own experience as a child, as a counselor, and as a daughter. She has lived and taught on the Pacific island of Saipan, where she worked with teachers and parents to create resources and programs for students with disabilities, and for the past twenty years, she has taught in the Navajo Nation. With Native educators, she co-founded an early-literacy nonprofit, Read at Home, which encourages parents to read regularly with their children.

Nancy's book list on loss, grief, and healing

Nancy Bo Flood Why did Nancy love this book?

In the delightful book, a granddaughter enjoys many fun activities with her grandmother, especially dancing like a leaf. Grandmother begins to change in many ways, especially physically and with her memory. And then “Grandmother’s bed is empty.” The child grieves but slowly feels comfort and even joy as she celebrates the many activities she had shared with her grandmother.

By AJ Irving, Claudia Navarro (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Dance Like a Leaf as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

As her grandmother's health declines, a young girl begins to lovingly take the lead in their cosy shared autumn traditions. Poetic prose paired with evocative illustrations by Mexican illustrator Claudia Navarro make for a beautiful celebration of life and a gentle introduction to the death of a loved one.


Book cover of The Leaf Thief

Julia Rawlinson Author Of Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

From my list on nature and the seasons.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in London, close to Richmond Park, where I got to know many of the characters who have since popped up in my stories. I bird-watched, caterpillar-collected, and pond-dipped, and my bedroom had a floating population of minibeasts. My first picture book, Fred and the Little Egg, was about a bear cub trying to hatch an acorn, and my stories have continued to reflect my love of nature. My Fletcher’s Four Seasons series follows a kind-hearted fox cub as he explores his wood through the changing seasons. I hope my books will inspire children to explore and care for the natural world too.

Julia's book list on nature and the seasons

Julia Rawlinson Why did Julia love this book?

This hilarious tale of a squirrel struggling to cope with its tree losing its leaves in autumn shares a theme with Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, but makes it very much its own thanks to its delightfully dramatic main character. Squirrel is a hoot from start to finish, outraged one minute, trying to relax with yoga and a hot bath the next. The book has colourful, expressive illustrations, a wonderful final page twist, and some bonus facts at the back about autumn, trees, and squirrels.

By Alice Hemming, Nicola Slater (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Leaf Thief as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 2, 3, 4, and 5.

What is this book about?

A brilliantly funny picture book about
seasons, written by Alice Hemming and illustrated by Nicola Slater.

Squirrel is so cross. Yesterday there
were loads of beautiful leaves on his tree,
but today? Today some are missing and Squirrel is convinced
that someone has stolen them... there's
a leaf thief on the loose!

Join Squirrel on a mission to find the culprit,
and meet so many fun animals on the way, while
you find out how the world takes on different colours
as the months pass by.



A laugh-out-loud book about the changing
seasons, with extra information in
the back for…


Book cover of Time for Cranberries

Roxanne Troup Author Of My Grandpa, My Tree, and Me

From my list on farm-to-table for kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in a farming community where everyone understood where our food comes from; we were all either farmers or related to farmers. I’ve since discovered that is not the case everywhere. Many kids honestly believe our food comes from grocery stores. Those that have been told our food is grown, are still unfamiliar with the extent of our reliance on agriculture—not just for food, but clothing; building and cleaning supplies; sports equipment; fuel; and so much more! They also don’t understand the amount of time and hard work (even technology) required to grow, harvest, and process the plants used to create their favorite foods. Hopefully these books—mine included—will help. 

Roxanne's book list on farm-to-table for kids

Roxanne Troup Why did Roxanne love this book?

I first discovered Time for Cranberries when looking for comparative titles for my own book.

But where mine follows the growth and harvest cycle of pecans, Lisl’s follows the harvest process for cranberries—from field to Thanksgiving table (though like my book, hers is not a holiday title). Like me, Lisl, wrote her story from personal experience, and includes all the sights and sounds of the cranberry harvest.

I love that she includes the child narrator in the process in a way that is both authentic and safe, and uses a refrain to tie the narrative together—boy, I didn’t realize just how comparative our stories were until just this moment! Maybe, someday the two of us can meet in person.

By Lisl H Detlefsen, Jed Henry (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Time for Cranberries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

From the cranberry bog to the Thanksgiving table, join Sam and his family as they harvest a classic American fruit.

When the vines hang heavy with berries that the autumn winds have turned deep red, it's time for cranberries, and Sam is finally old enough to help with the harvest! This charming, lyrical picture book follows Sam and his family as they raise the water in the bog, pick the cranberries, and gather the fruit for processing. It's a story of modern family farming in action, showing readers where their food comes from but mostly delighting them along the way.


Book cover of First Frost

Tina Wainscott Author Of Until I Die Again (Love and Light)

From my list on to escape into another world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been fascinated by things paranormal and supernatural. There is so much in the “real” world that we don’t understand and can’t prove their existence, but there is enough video and photos, as well as stories, that I don’t see how we can say there’s not more beyond our five senses. Many of my own books center on paranormal abilities and events, and I do love reading about them as well!

Tina's book list on to escape into another world

Tina Wainscott Why did Tina love this book?

This book is also set in an ordinary world in a small Georgia town (I think it’s Georgia!), with an extraordinary family whose lineage has women with magical powers. The townsfolk know about the “odd” family, but they aren’t wholly shunned. Each woman has her own vulnerabilities and life journey. I loved the magic and cranky apple tree!

By Sarah Addison Allen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked First Frost as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Readers fell in love with Sarah Addison Allen's debut novel, GARDEN SPELLS. Now the tale of the Waverley women is to be revisited with a magical sequel.

Autumn has finally arrived in the small town of Bascom, North Carolina, heralded by a strange old man appearing with a beaten-up suitcase. He has stories to tell, stories that could change the lives of the Waverley women forever. But the Waverleys have enough trouble on their hands. Quiet Claire Waverley has started a successful new venture, Waverley's Candies, but it's nothing like she thought it would be, and it's slowly taking over…


Book cover of We Begin at the End

Dawn Goodwin Author Of When We Were Young

From my list on escapism on a rainy Autumn evening.

Why am I passionate about this?

I may be a writer of psychological dramas, but I am first and foremost an avid reader who is addicted to books. My go-to genre is the psychological thriller, but I also love any books that use light and shade, balancing humour and darkness, inverting stereotypes, and generally keeping me guessing on plot twists and turns. All of the books I have recommended would keep you warm and cosy – and certainly distracted – on an autumnal evening when the nights are long and cold. 

Dawn's book list on escapism on a rainy Autumn evening

Dawn Goodwin Why did Dawn love this book?

This is an exceptional crime novel. The characters are rich and unforgettable—Duchess and Thomas Noble will stay with me for a very long time. It is also beautifully writtennothing is unnecessary and every word has a purpose. I cried, I laughed and above all I rooted for them. One of those books I wish I'd written myself. A must-read.

By Chris Whitaker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Begin at the End as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel from the Crime Writers’ Association (UK)
Winner for Best International Crime Fiction from Australian Crime Writers Association
An Instant New York Times Bestseller

“A vibrant, engrossing, unputdownable thriller that packs a serious emotional punch. One of those rare books that surprise you along the way and then linger in your mind long after you have finished it.”
—Kristin Hannah, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Four Winds

Right. Wrong. Life is lived somewhere in between.

Duchess Day Radley is a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed outlaw. Rules are for…


Book cover of Uzumaki

Thomas H. Brand Author Of A Far Better Thing

From my list on leaving you spooked and unsettled.

Why am I passionate about this?

Horror was never something that appealed to me when I was younger. However, in adulthood, I realised the fascination of the unsettling. As I began writing, I realised that true horror is not all about monsters and gore but about breaking our everyday complacency and realising the possibility that the world is bigger than us and how we are unprepared to deal with it. This is why I write horror. Not to shock you with a jump-scare, but you leave you thinking about my words long after the lights have gone out.  

Thomas' book list on leaving you spooked and unsettled

Thomas H. Brand Why did Thomas love this book?

Junji Ito is the master of the unsettling.

His storytelling and artwork combined create books which even the strongest stomached would find uncomfortable. And yet, we are drawn to them, unable to look away. And he understands that the most terrifying thing is not an invasion by something outside of our world but the realisation that the everyday world around us might turn against us. 

Uzumaki is a story about incomprehensible obsession and how it can take over a society to the point of destruction. One by one, the people of a small Japanese town become obsessed with spirals. Not a monster or a ghost, but a shape, until the power behind it destroys everything. 

By Junji Ito,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Uzumaki as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Kurozu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people's bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi's father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurozu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is…


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