A review by lauraglovestoread
The Cat Who Saved Books, by Sōsuke Natsukawa

adventurous reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


The Cat Who Saved Books follows Rintaro, a young boy who has recently lost his grandfather; he is in the process of closing the second-hand bookshop his father operated and in which he'd spent many many hours reading... until a talking tabby cat named Tiger turns up and whisks him away on a series of adventures.
I find this book very hard to rate.  There are quite a few things I appreciate about it: it's whimsical + Tiger's quite funny, and I feel like Rintaro's grief is depicted in a nuanced, respectful way.  I also feel like the book asks some valuable questions -- about how to address the use of old texts to promote harmful ideologies, about what happens to a book when it is abridged beyond recognition, about the value of books that aren't bestsellers or popular / the value of books beyond the money they make for publishers -- while leaving room for the reader to consider how these questions play out in their own life.
One thing about this book didn't really work for me though.  I recognize that I may be missing some context here as a non-Japanese reader, but I found myself frustrated that all of the books mentioned and celebrated in this book are Western classics.  I don't think the intention of the text was to suggest that this canon -- which is not even a little bit diverse -- is somehow inherently better than other books, but I could definitely see a reader reaching that conclusion, which I think would be unfortunate.  

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