The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa is the fourth and final “Japanese cat book” that my partner had gotten me for Christmas last year. I was reading through them all in chronological order, and I was so excited to get to the book that had inspired him to buy me all four! The first four books were I Am A Cat, The Guest Cat, and The Travelling Cat Chronicles.
This wasn’t my favourite of all four books (that was The Travelling Cat Chronicles 😍) but I did enjoy it a lot! It was the first of all four to be truly fantastical. Our main character is a young boy who has just lost his grandfather, the man who was raising him, and is closing up the bookshop he used to run. He is greeted by a talking cat who takes him through four labyrinths in order to save literature.
I enjoyed that the four labyrinths linked to the Greek minotaur and that they all had our protagonist fighting the antagonists with his pure love of books. But I did find that Natsukawa’s message was hitting us over the head just a bit. There was no real nuance in the message, instead it was very obvious that this man was using this as a vessel to complain about current reading trends. Do I disagree with his points? No! But it was still quite heavy handed.
I also felt a little called out at points 😅 we’re so focused on reading as much as we can (okay me, I’m focused on reading as much as I can) that we don’t take pleasure in slowly revisiting a past book, time and time again. I think I need to reread this short novel at some point to really get the idea into my head that it’s okay not to be reading new books all the time!
On CAWPILE I rated this: Characters: 7, Writing: 7, Plot: 8, Intrigue: 7, Logic: 7, and Enjoyment: 7 giving an average of 7.29 and a 4* rating.
Highlight here for content warnings: death, kidnapping, grief, death of parent.
Overall, this is a sweet book with a very strong message. One that heavy readers will likely appreciate but that those who don’t devote their life to reading may find overtly over the top. If you’re reading this blog? You’re likely to be a heavy reader, so try this book out! It’s a short one and you might end up loving it anyways, like me!
2 thoughts on “The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa, a review”
Ooh, this sounds like the one for me! I’m all for the fun and fantastical in Japanese translated fiction at the moment. I think it might be the other way round for me that I prefer this one over The Travelling Cat Chronicles. I had to DNF that one a few months ago because whilst the writing was beautiful and compelling, I was in the wrong place mentally to read it as the content is rather heavy and depressing.
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Travelling Cat Chronicles is definitely a really heavy one so I’m glad you stepped away when you needed to. The Cat Who Saved Books does have some heavier tones but is *definitely* lighter and hopefully one that you’ll enjoy!!
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