The Cat Who Saved Books: A Novel - book cover
  • Publisher : HarperVia
  • Published : 07 Dec 2021
  • Pages : 208
  • ISBN-10 : 0063095726
  • ISBN-13 : 9780063095724
  • Language : English

The Cat Who Saved Books: A Novel


From the #1 bestselling author in Japan comes a celebration of books, cats, and the people who love them, infused with the heartwarming spirit of The Guest Cat and The Travelling Cat Chronicles.

Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the secondhand bookstore he inherited from his beloved bookworm grandfather. Then, a talking cat appears with an unusual request. The feline asks for-or rather, demands-the teenager's help in saving books with him. The world is full of lonely books left unread and unloved, and the cat and Rintaro must liberate them from their neglectful owners. 

Their mission sends this odd couple on an amazing journey, where they enter different mazes to set books free. Through their travels, the cat and Rintaro meet a man who leaves his books to perish on a bookshelf, an unwitting book torturer who cuts the pages of books into snippets to help people speed read, and a publishing drone who only wants to create bestsellers. Their adventures culminate in one final, unforgettable challenge-the last maze that awaits leads Rintaro down a realm only the bravest dare enter . . . 

An enthralling tale of books, first love, fantasy, and an unusual friendship with a talking cat, The Cat Who Saved Books is a story for those for whom books are so much more than words on paper. 

Translated from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai.

"Cats, books, young love, and adventure: catnip for a variety of readers!" –Kirkus

Editorial Reviews

"This whimsical novel will have many a reader at it's title."  -- The Observer (London)

"Lovers of traditional literature and books themselves will find validation in the lessons Rintaro learns (and teaches), while the story's structure and fanciful nature may hold appeal for a young adult audience more familiar with the conventions of gaming …Cats, books, young love, and adventure: catnip for a variety of readers!" -- Kirkus Reviews

"Charming." -- Publishers Weekly

"Bibliophiles will dote on this charming import from Japan, smoothly translated by Louise Heal Kawai."
-- Library Journal

"Charming...Natsukawa's empowering Bildungsroman [manages] to be both whimsical and wise." -- Shelf Awareness

"Quirky and heartwarming in equal measure, The Cat Who Saved Books invites us to remember the joy of curling up with a favorite book, and savoring the tactile pleasure that comes with turning the pages and immersing ourselves in a good story." -- The Japan Times

"Combine "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" with "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" and you might get a feel for this delightful novel. A talking bookstore cat persuades a young man named Rintaro to embark on a quest to save books from barbarous fates, including languishing on shelves and being "tortured" by a man whose speed-reading tutorials involve scissors."
-- Washington Post

Readers Top Reviews

StephenMrs. L. A. Bl
I bought this as a gift for a good friend of mine and I am sure she will be delighted with the content. The story itself appears quite simple but once you begin to read it is clear there is far more depth than the title might suggest. I won't go into spoilers here but it does seem to be an easy read for all ages, and one that will educate as much as entertain. The hardback version that I bought is excellently produced. The covers are firm, the papers are quality and the print is excellent.
This is a charming little book which I read in single sitting - not because I have a quota to read like one of the characters but because I enjoyed the book very much. It has the feel of Japanese novels - if you have read Kawakami or Murakami for example you will know what I mean, and if you enjoy those authors you will almost certainly enjoy this too. It is whimsical, it has a talking cat, and a boy living on his own, with a fair bit of gentle supernatural happenings ( as well as the talking cat) too. For a charming uplifting read - and if you love books - I can recommend this one wholeheartedly
V. O'Regan
‘“‘Books have tremendous power.’ That was his grandfather’s mantra.” - ‘The Cat Who Saved Books’ by Sosuke Natsukawa. This novel was originally published in Japan in 2017 and now translated from the Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai. I combined reading with listening to its unabridged audiobook edition for an immersive experience. A tabby cat, a bookshop and many books: elements that add up to what I consider a perfect novel. It is both wise and whimsical, beautifully written and thought provoking. Rintaro Natsuki has always considered Natsuki Books, his grandfather’s tiny, second-hand bookshop, a place of wonder and the perfect refuge for a reclusive boy. He has spent many happy hours there reading. Then his grandfather dies leaving Rintaro grieving and alone. It seems that the shop will have to close. Then a tabby cat named Tiger wanders in, apparently from the rear of the shop, and asks Rintaro for help. Tiger explains that he is able to be understood by certain people and that he needs a book lover to accompany him on a mission to save books from people who have imprisoned, mistreated and betrayed them. Tiger leads him through a number of labyrinths and subsequent book themed adventures. Sayo Yuzuki, a strong, no nonsense girl that Rintaro has known since primary school, also drops by Natsuki Books; mainly to bring him homework but also because she is quite concerned about his increased reclusiveness. According to the Translator’s Note, Rintaro is a ‘hikikonori’, a Japanese term that indicates someone who has consciously separated themselves from society. In the course of the narrative there are discussions about various books and the power of books throughout the centuries. I appreciated Rintaro response to Sayo when she finds a certain novel challenging: “If you find it difficult it’s because it contains something that is new to you. Every difficult book offers us a brand-new challenge.’ This was a wonderful novel and given its themes of the relevance and power of books I feel that it will be a great choice for reading groups. I have already put it forward to members of my own group as an upcoming selection. Very highly recommended.
Kid Ferrous
Combining two of my favourite things, cats and books, “The Cat Who Saved Books” by Sosuke Natsukawa was a pleasant, quirky surprise. Following the death of his grandfather, the proprietor of a secondhand bookshop, Rintaro Natsuki prepares to close the shop for good and move away when a tabby cat called Tiger saunters into the store and whisks Rintaro away on a bizarre quest to rescue “imprisoned” books from a succession of labyrinths. Tiger is, of course, a talking cat and is sassy with it. The intrepid and unlikely duo meet many colourful characters along the way, including a man who reads thousands of books but never rereads any as there are too many to get through, another who cuts up books to enable speed reading, and one who wishes only to sell books as disposable products. All are deemed by Tiger to have imprisoned, harmed or treated books badly and so must be put to rights by this odd couple and their books freed. Author Sosuke Natsukawa, a Japanese doctor, has already enjoyed success with his previous book, the title of which translates as “God’s Medical Records”, which was made into a film in Japan. It wouldn’t surprise me if his latest book received the same treatment; it has the feel of a Studio Ghibli-type film. Translated skilfully and sympathetically by Louise Heal Kawai, the book is written in what appears to be a fairly simple way; this is not a bad thing because it makes the true depth of the story more profound. Rintaro is a lost soul at the beginning, often repeating “Grandpa, this is messed up” to himself as he tries to come to terms with his grandfather’s passing, but by the end of the story he gains strength and purpose. Tiger is a catalyst for Rintaro’s growth as a person. I cannot fault this book, other than to bemoan the fact that it isn’t longer! Overall, “The Cat Who Saved Books” is a quirky, fun and touching joy for those who love books…and cats!
Loved, loved, loved this book! I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. I normally am not a fan of allegorical stories. However, this one spoke to me. Maybe it's because it's about books. I love the main character and how he is working on navigating his new life. The cat is charming. The adventures are insightful. And his friendships change his perspective. I loved how this book worked together, and I found it charming. I highly recommend this book! It's appropriate for adult and young readers.