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Hello friends! It’s been a while and I can only apologise for being away for so long without posting. I’ve been busy catching up on ARCs, taking part in read-alongs and transforming our bedroom into a cosy reading nook and workspace. Lots of stuff going on! I’d say that things should start to settle down but… I doubt it! The little one starts preschool next week though which should free up some time each week to focus on blogging… But I digress! Today I want to talk about one of the books featured on my September most anticipated book releases post. This book is magical, a novel in translation AND it features a talking cat. What more could you want? Without further ado, here’s my review of The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa.
Many thanks to Picador for the advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.
The Cat Who Saved Books
by Sosuke Natsukawa
Translated by: Louise Heal Kawai
Date of Publication: 16th September 2021
Genre: Literary Fiction
Format: eBook (166 pages)
My Rating: Loved it! 😍
Grandpa used to say it all the time: books have tremendous power. But what is that power really?
Natsuki Books was a tiny second-hand bookshop on the edge of town. Inside, towering shelves reached the ceiling, every one crammed full of wonderful books. Rintaro Natsuki loved this space that his grandfather had created. He spent many happy hours there, reading whatever he liked. It was the perfect refuge for a boy who tended to be something of a recluse.
After the death of his grandfather, Rintaro is devastated and alone. It seems he will have to close the shop. Then, a talking tabby cat called Tiger appears and asks Rintaro for help. The cat needs a book lover to join him on a mission. This odd couple will go on three magical adventures to save books from people have imprisoned, mistreated and betrayed them. Finally, there is one last rescue that Rintaro must attempt alone . . .
The Cat Who Saved Books is a heart-warming story about finding courage, caring for others – and the tremendous power of books. Sosuke Natsukawa’s international bestseller, translated from Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai, is a story for those for whom books are so much more than words on paper.
I was initially drawn to The Cat Who Saved Books for three reasons; 1) I’m always keen to read more translated fiction, 2) the title – I love cats and I love books so there’s a lot to love here and 3) the gorgeously bookish cover. In fact, all of the covers for this book are so stunning that I’m tempted to collect them all.
This is a heart-warming magical story that deals with themes of grief (and loss of identity in the wake of grief), friendship and the magic of books. In it, we follow Rintaro following the loss of his bookseller grandfather who was his guardian. Having recently lost my own grandfather, I could relate to Rintaro’s grief but felt that the discussion of grief and loss was dealt with in a very warm and sensitive way. You can see that Rintaro has lost much more than just a loved one and yet the nature of the book forces him to focus on the present and the future, to find hope, purpose and friendship at the darkest of times. I even found myself healing in the process.
As you’d expect, the central focus of this book is on books in general. The Cat Who Saved Books will challenge your ideas of what being a booklover looks like by looking at various reading habits and how they can be harmful. I’m guilty of hiding in books to escape reality so the grandfather’s message of “It’s all very well to read a book, but when you’ve finished, it’s time to set foot in the world” had a big impact on me.
One of the reasons that I enjoyed this book so much is that it reminded me a lot of some of my favourite books. The idea of saving books took me back to Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s Cemetery of Forgotten Books. And while I can’t figure out why, The Cat Who Saved Books also reminded me of A Wrinkle in Time. Possibly because of how both books made me feel throughout.
I do, however, feel that the cat doesn’t have a large enough role to truly warrant being the centre of the title. But I guess The Teenager Who Saved Books doesn’t have carry the same weight or selling factor.
Overall, this was a delight to read. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for something hopeful without being too heavy or anyone who enjoys reading books about books, books featuring cats (who don’t die!) or books with quest-based storylines.
Will you be adding The Cat Who Saved Books to your endless TBRs? Which cover did you like the most? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!