The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa

Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the secondhand bookstore he inherited from his beloved bookworm grandfather. Then, a talking cat appears with an unusual request. The feline asks for—or rather, demands—the teenager’s help in saving books with him. The world is full of lonely books left unread and unloved, and the cat and Rintaro must liberate them from their neglectful owners. 
Their mission sends this odd couple on an amazing journey, where they enter different mazes to set books free. Through their travels, the cat and Rintaro meet a man who leaves his books to perish on a bookshelf, an unwitting book torturer who cuts the pages of books into snippets to help people speed read, and a publishing drone who only wants to create bestsellers. Their adventures culminate in one final, unforgettable challenge—the last maze that awaits leads Rintaro down a realm only the bravest dare enter . . . 
An enthralling tale of books, first love, fantasy, and an unusual friendship with a talking cat, The Cat Who Saved Books is a story for those for whom books are so much more than words on paper. (taken from Amazon)

“There are timeless stories, powerful enough to have survived through the ages. Read lots of books like these- they’ll be like friends to you. They’ll inspire and support you.”

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. The Cat Who Saved Books is available now.

Sometimes a book is a contradiction of itself. Such is the case with The Cat Who Saved Books. It is simple yet profound. It starts with a death but teems with a life all its own. It’s short but full all the same. I suppose you could say that I loved it.

Rintaro lived with his grandfather, who owned a used bookstore. When his grandfather dies, Rintaro isn’t just losing the most important person in the world to him, he’s afraid that he’s also losing his grandfather’s store and his refuge. Rintaro is lost and alone- until a tabby cat named Tiger shows up and asks Rintaro to help him on an important mission. They must save books that are being destroyed or ignored. What follows is more than a journey to save books. It’s a journey of self-discovery. And it is wonderful.

For some reason, I expected this to be a book that took place in a long ago setting, not a contemporary one. Once I adjusted my expectations, I found that this is better. Rinataro is relatable and I couldn’t help but want to heal the hurt in his heart that radiates from page one (despite his prickly way of handling it). In fact, while there weren’t many characters, they were each distinctive in their own way. I loved getting to know them.

The quests were unique and so creative. They were vividly described, and it was easy to sink into the story. The book has a special cadence to it, and if you look closely, you can see the Hero’s Journey told in a new and heartwarming way.

For those of us who see books as more than just words on paper, The Cat Who Saved Books is a must-read.

Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops by Shaun Bythell

From behind the counter, Shaun Bythell catalogs the customers who roam his shop in Wigtown, Scotland. There’s the Expert (divided into subspecies from the Bore to the Helpful Person), the Young Family (ranging from the Exhausted to the Aspirational), Occultists (from Conspiracy Theorist to Craft Woman).

Then there’s the Loiterer (including the Erotica Browser and the Self-Published Author), the Bearded Pensioner (including the Lyrca Clad), and the The Not-So-Silent Traveller (the Whistler, Sniffer, Hummer, Farter, and Tutter). Two bonus sections include Staff and, finally, Perfect Customer―all add up to one of the funniest book about books you’ll ever find. (taken from Amazon)

With a title like this, I just had to read Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops. This is a nonfiction written by someone whose profession affords him the excellent opportunity to people watch. As a bookseller, author Bythell has experienced all kinds of customers, and has sorted them into categories, easily explained and commented on.

This book was funny and snarky, although it segued into meanness every now and again. Categories such as “Genus: Peritas (Expert)” are sorted into sub-categories and described in hilarious detail. I have to apologetically admit to fitting neatly into the “Young Family” category: I truly do try to keep the fingerprints off of glass, though.

I found myself chuckling at some of the things the author notes. His ability to both poke fun at, and show appreciation for, all kinds of people was incredibly entertaining. I did feel that Bythell took things too far from time to time, particularly when discussing self-published authors. I’m sure his comments were made without malicious intent, but I did get a little annoyed on these authors’ behalf. Right when I was at my most ticked off, he mentioned a delightful encounter with a self-published author, smoothing my ruffled feathers a bit.

I didn’t love the book the way I was hoping, but I did find it to be a very diverting read. It’s a one-and-done sort of book, but those also have their place. Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops would be a great palette cleanser in-between books that require an emotional investment.