While I agree that Autumn, especially October, is prime horror reading season, I am also fond of reading cosy lighter books around this time of year. After all, after reading something intense, it makes sense to read something softer as a breather. Enter, The Cat Who Saved Books.
This novel has it all, a talking cat, lovable and relatable characters and the magic of books.
The Cat Who Saved Books is a magical realism novel written by Sōsuke Natsukawa. The story is about bookish High Schooler Rintaro Natsuki, who, unfortunately, has recently lost his beloved guardian and grandfather. Said late grandfather owned a second-hand bookshop the two lived above.
Soon after his passing, Rintaro gets a rather unusual customer with a stranger still request. A talking tabby named Tiger needs Rintaro’s help to save imprisoned books.
This novel feels like getting a warm hug while swaddled in a fluffy blanket.
Rintaro is a hikikomori, a social recusle. He isolated himself by choice but is still a rather kind-hearted person when he can find the bravery to show others that side of him. Otherwise, you can typically find him reading. When we meet him at the start of the novel, he is in a difficult place in his life, losing his dear grandfather who raised him and soon he will move in with an Aunt he has only met since the funeral. In turn, losing the bookshop. Needless to say, despite the neutral face he keeps on, he isn’t doing well.
Then Tiger walks into his life, and everything changes.
Tiger himself is a rather peculiar person, not factoring in the whole talking cat business. He shows up when he pleases, seemingly by magic. He is rather blunt and sassy too, but I can’t help but feel that if cats could talk, they would be rather sassy, my cats would be. Rintaro and Tiger’s back and forth is very funny and downright sweet at times, aside from when Tiger is roasting him.
The Cat Who Saved Books is very dialogue-heavy. In order to free the books from mistreatment, Rintaro has to convince the captors to release them. In a way, it’s a debate about reading culture. Outside of that, it is a reflective read, I would say it has a bit of a slow pace but it doesn’t drag on.
I adored it. It’s sweet and sincere in its message of truly loving books. About the importance of rereading, not reading books purely because you want to brag about reading them. About taking the time to savour a good book. It has a lot of heart and is a gentle reading experience. There is also a bit of young romance that I thought was very cute.
It’s a hopeful and heartwarming read. Perfect for a cosy night in.