Title: Days At The Morisaki Bookshop
Author: Satoshi Yagisawa
Page Count: 160
Publish Date: July 4, 2023
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Twenty-five-year-old Takako has enjoyed a relatively easy existence—until the day her boyfriend Hideaki, the man she expected to wed, casually announces he’s been cheating on her and is marrying the other woman. Suddenly, Takako’s life is in freefall. She loses her job, her friends, and her acquaintances, and spirals into a deep depression. In the depths of her despair, she receives a call from her distant uncle Satoru.
An unusual man who has always pursued something of an unconventional life, especially after his wife Momoko left him out of the blue five years earlier, Satoru runs a second-hand bookshop in Jimbocho, Tokyo’s famous book district. Takako once looked down upon Satoru’s life. Now, she reluctantly accepts his offer of the tiny room above the bookshop rent-free in exchange for helping out at the store. The move is temporary, until she can get back on her feet. But in the months that follow, Takako surprises herself when she develops a passion for Japanese literature, becomes a regular at a local coffee shop where she makes new friends, and eventually meets a young editor from a nearby publishing house who’s going through his own messy breakup.
But just as she begins to find joy again, Hideaki reappears, forcing Takako to rely once again on her uncle, whose own life has begun to unravel. Together, these seeming opposites work to understand each other and themselves as they continue to share the wisdom they’ve gained in the bookshop.
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Takako’s life is turned upside down right from page one. Her relationship is dead and with it, her job steadily becomes an unpleasant place to be.
This certainly sets the stage for what is to come and puts her at her lowest. From here, she can either fully succumb to her lot in life or change things up and find herself and her purpose again.
This is where her uncle and his used bookshop in Jimbocho come in. While Takako is hesitant to take up his offer at first, it’s also her only option.
Watching Takako navigate her new world was fun. From tackling the storage area that will become her apartment above the shop to learning how things are run at the shop, there is plenty to keep her occupied and her mind off her recent heartbreak.
Though it takes her some time, she does begin the embrace this new life and rediscovers her love of books.
This first third of the book is where the story shines. The time Takako spends at the bookshop and the Jimbocho area, interacting with the patrons of the shop and getting to know them, was where the book truly shined.
As someone who wants to visit Jimbocho one day, getting to see a snippet of it in this book was wonderful. You can really feel the magic of the area and the joy its patrons and shopowners have for their city of books and what it represents.
It’s a bit after this that the direction of the story changes.
While the rest of the book was fine, I felt like once Momoko, Takako’s aunt, came into the story everything shifted away from the bookshop and focused on something else. There was good relationship development between these two, but I couldn’t help but long for the story to return to the bookshop setting.
I understand why so much of the book was focused on these two. It helped to add to the character building, especially of Takako and cemented her resolve to embrace life.
Despite its short length, this book is not a quick read as the pace of the story is fairly slow. Yet, it seems to reflect the speed at which things are happening in the story – slowly and when they are needed to help Takako along her journey.
Overall, Days at the Morisaki Bookshop was a decent read. It started strong but faltered a bit in the latter half. However, I am willing to add another of Satoshi Yagisawa’s books to my TBR.
Have you read Days At The Moriskai Bookshop? What did you think of it?