The Cat Who Saved Books, Sosuke Natsukawa, Japan, 2017 (Translation 2021)

The Cat Who Saved Books, Sosuke Natsukawa, Japan, 2017 (Translation 2021)

This is a delightful little book, which is quite obviously aimed at a YA audience but which, because of a number of thought-provoking passages, could actually appeal to anyone. Its fairytale format makes it easy to read, and though there is no depth of character development, it is the type of book that manages to remain with the reader even after the last page has been turned.

Rintaro Natsuki’s beloved grandfather has died. Having no parents, Rintaro’s family has always only consisted of his grandfather and himself, and now he is on his own. His grandfather’s second-hand bookshop, Natsuki Books, is to be closed and Rintaro is to be taken under the wing of an aunt he has never met.

Sosuke Natsukawa (Harper Collins)

While he is in the shop, preparing books for the closing-down sale, he is surprised by a large orange cat who then surprises him even more by talking and introducing himself as Tiger. Tiger is on a mission to save books, but he needs Rintaro’s help.

Rintaro and Tiger leave the shop through the back wall, which suddenly changes into a long, long corridor. The corridor goes on and on, but eventually Rintaro is confronted by a room with innumerable books in glass cases and a man who is reading.

Image from Japan Times

Over the next few days more corridors are explored, and Rintaro and Tiger are joined by Sayo Yuzaki. a high school friend of Rintaro. Each corridor examines a separate truth about books: Books should not be looked upon as something too precious to be shared; books should not be condensed; books are not for commercial profit. But the most important part of any book is, as Rintaro finally realizes, the reader.

‘A book that sits on a shelf is nothing but a bundle of paper. Unless it is opened, a book possessing great power or an epic story is a mere scrap of paper. But a book that has been cherished and loved, filled with human thoughts, has been endowed with a soul.’

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