Book Review: A coming-of-age story for anyone who loves to read

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The cat who saved the books

Finding a book you didn’t know you were looking for can be like finding a friend – perhaps someone you lost touch with a while ago or a new connection made while chatting on the bus. Books mean more to us than the words on the page.

“There are timeless stories, powerful enough to have passed through the ages. Read lots of books like these – they will be like friends to you. They will inspire and support you.

Rintaro, the cat hero who saved the books, has spent more than his fair share of time at a secondhand bookstore. He lives there with his grandfather, the merchant. But now the old man is dead and Rintaro, who is only a teenager, has to leave his house and his sanctuary to go and live with the kind aunt who has offered to take him in.

He stupidly follows this plan, until a cat arrives in the bookstore. A talking cat who asks Rintaro for help with a mission to rescue damaged, smashed and discarded books.

It’s a coming-of-age story that will resonate with anyone who loves to read. Accompany Rintaro as he finds the inner strength to take on the challenge of committing to life as well as literature.

Translated from Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai, it is a book that provides insight into a different culture while raising questions about the status of reading and books in today’s society. The choice to use untranslatable Japanese words adds an interesting contrast to a story based on and referencing classic Western literature.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably someone who likes to read books. You may have spent time thinking about what reading means to you.

Perhaps you remember the joy of a visit to Sheffield’s own Rare & Racy bookshop. You probably haven’t met a talking cat, but you might still enjoy Natsukawa’s investigation of what the books mean to humans.

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