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Books We Love: Autumn Light by Pico Iyer

In Autumn Light, travel writer Pico Iyer ruminates on life, impermanence, and daily rituals, reminding us of what travel can be.

Winter is a time of going in, turning down the heat of summer. Autumn Light, by favorite travel writer Pico Iyer, is a book we love, bring us memories of what travel can be. Iyer writes with a rare sensitivity and poise, and in this book he embraces the impermanence of life. Returning to his longtime home in Japan after his father-in-law’s sudden death, Pico Iyer picks up the steadying patterns of his everyday rites: going to the post office and engaging in furious games of ping-pong every evening. Born to Indian parents in Oxford but raised in California, Iyer has lived in Japan since 1992, after marrying a Japanese woman with two children. Says the Los Angeles Review of Books, “Meandering like a river, [Autumn Light] flows along with a steady pace of rumination, only to abruptly plunge off a profound waterfall… It is a mysteriously affecting book…It’s not only a joy to read, it’s helpful.”

Here are some quotes from Autumn Light:

“Autumn poses the question we all have to live with: How to hold on to the things we love even though we know that we and they are dying. How to see the world as it is, yet find light within that truth.”

“Now I see it’s in the spaces where nothing is happening that one has to make a life.”

“Her kids and I tease her remorselessly about her devotion to cleaning, but of course it’s Hiroko’s deeper cleanliness — her freedom from second thoughts, from the need to gossip, from malice or the hunger for complexity — that is one of her sovereign gifts. Dusting is how she clears her head. Cohen himself, asked about his Zen training, explained, ‘It’s just house cleaning. From time to time the dust and the dirty clothes accumulate in the corners and it’s time to clean up.’ ”

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Patricia Garcia-Gomez
Patricia Garcia-Gomez
Patricia Garcia-Gomez is a writer and artist working with visual media and sound. She is the editor of Travel by Ageist and a contributor to the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel and The Private Journal (Europe). Her work is also part of the permanent archives of the Tate Modern, the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, the Buhl Collection, and The Harwood Museum in New Mexico.

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