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Review: The Cat Who Saved Books

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

2/5 stars

Translated from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai


A 2-star book with a 5-star cover. It's also a fun title, but the title isn't accurate to the storyline, so I can't say it's great.


Rintaro is a solitary, bookish high school student who lives with his grandfather, but when his grandfather passes away, he has nothing but the small, hole-in-the-wall used bookstore that belonged to him. Rintaro feels suspended in inaction until one day a talking tabby cat appears in the store, and informs him that he is needed to help save books. The cat is rude and unlikable. They head off on multiple "adventures" to alternate dimensions where people are ruining books in one way or another - cutting them up, hoarding them for their own use, throwing them out of windows. The cat says their missions will be fraught with danger, but that never actually feels true. There's a lot of repetition. I don't think this book is meant to be a children's book, but it read that way... except that it somehow had fantasy without any whimsy.


There ARE some really lovely quotes about books and reading though, so I'll share a few:


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 mere scraps of paper. But a book that has been cherished and loved, filled with human thoughts, has been endowed with a soul.


It’s not true that the more you read, the more you see of the world. No matter how much knowledge you cram into your head, unless you think with your own mind, walk with your own feet, the knowledge you acquire will never be anything more than empty and borrowed.


Reading isn’t only for pleasure or entertainment. Sometimes you need to examine the same lines deeply, read the same sentences over again. Sometimes you sit there, head in hands, only progressing at a painstakingly slow pace. And the result of all this hard work and careful study is that suddenly you’re there and your field of vision expands. It’s like finding a great view at the end of a long climbing trail.

 

UP NEXT: Other Birds, by Sarah Addison Allen


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