January 2023 Book of the Month Club - Homer’s Odyssey and/or The Cat Who Saved Books 🐈

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rubysmama

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Time is flying, and here we are already 15 days into January.
That means this time next week, we'll be able to start reviewing the books.
:)
 
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rubysmama

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Got mine written. Ready to copy and paste!
I've written my review for "The Cat Who Saved Books", so it's also ready to cut and paste.

I've now started quickly reading Homer, to refresh my memory from when it read it a few years ago.
 
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rubysmama

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My reviews are written and ready to post tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing what everyone else thought of the books.
 

Mamanyt1953

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IT'S SUNDAY!!!

Homer’s Odessey

What an utterly enchanting little book this was. I have to admit, I first thought, “Poor little kitty.” Twenty pages in, and that turned into “Poor little kitty, my hind feet and toenails!” What an irrepressible cat he was! My heart sang as he found his way in his world, I thrilled to his utter bravery in facing new situations and odd occurrences. I literally dropped the book and clapped when he ran off the intruder into Gwen’s apartment. I was brought to tears at Gwen’s frantic efforts to reach her beloved cats in the aftermath of 9/11. And was brought to tear again as Homer slowly wore down Laurence, with the help of the lovely Vashi (who knew a secret sucker when she saw one) and turned him into a cat person.

Being who I am, I’d have done the same thing Gwen did when that pitiful little scrap of kitten was dropped into her hands. I’d have taken him home, and figured it out later.

Altogether, a lovely book for anyone who loves cats, or who just roots for the underdog.



The Cat Who Saved Books

This book really surprised me. I had read about five pages, and decided it would be a sweet, simple little story. By page 15, I went back to the beginning and read it with fresh eyes. This book is far deeper than it appears on the surface. On the surface, it is a young man and a mystical cat (and a girl, of course) who embark on a series of quests, called labyrinths. Of course, they succeed in their questing, and of course, the mystical cat disappears. Sweet, simple, and uplifting. Fine. BUT…reading this book was like reading haiku, or looking at Ikebana flower arrangements. The more often you read a haiku, the longer you look at an Ikebana arrangement, the more depth you perceive, the more multilayered they become, the deeper meaning you find within them. I plan to read this book several more times, and to take notes as I read and ponder. No, I won’t tell you what meanings I found, because yours are almost sure to be different, and I would not color them for you.

I was more than happy that I was able to purchase both books this month. I would not have missed either for the world.
 
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rubysmama

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Homer’s Odyssey
I first read this book back in 2017, and loved it. And since I rarely re-read books, and with the “and/or” option this month, I figured I’d read “The Cat Who Saved Books”, and maybe just skim “Homer’s Odyssey” enough to write a review.

Once I started reading, though, I realized I didn’t remember that much about the book, and my fast skimming soon became slow skimming, and I ended up pretty much quickly reading the entire book.

I absolutely loved everything about Homer. Loved reading all about his amazing ability to navigate his home, despite not being able to see. Loved how everyone that met him, came to love him.

And, even though I knew from my first read that Homer and his feline siblings would be ok, I still worried during the 9/11 days when they were all alone.

The only part of the book I found a bit long was the chapter on Gwen falling in love. But I did love that her husband, who never liked cats before, came to love the feline trio.

I’m glad the book was written while the cats were still all living with her, as it’s never easy to read about losing them. Obviously since this book was written in 2010, they’ve all crossed the rainbow bridge now. And checking Wiki, Homer passed in 2013 at age 16.

After my first reading, I gave the book 4 stars, so 4 stars again.
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The Cat Who Saved Books
This book was totally different from I expected, as I expected a book with a talking cat to be fantastical and fun, which it was. But it was also very serious.

It wasn’t till I read the note from the translator, that I learned the meaning of hikikomari. I’d thought it was Japanese for student, when I read the sentence “I’m just a high school boy, a hikikomari.” But learning the word refers to “people, often young men, who have consciously decided to shut themselves away from society, rarely venturing outside to school or work” makes more sense. Especially if I’m right that the cat was the grandfather, and he was trying to help his grandson grow and learn where his place was in the world.

There were many wonderful quotes about books, which I wish I’d taken better note of, but this one at the end was excellent. “Every difficult book offers us a brand-new challenge.”

The book had so many amazing, descriptive passages of the labyrinths, and I could almost imagine I was there too.

Even though he was quite snarky at times, I loved Tiger the Tabby. And totally loved when he’d refer to Rintaro as Mr. Proprietor.

Those of us that love books, could probably relate in some ways to the men in the labyrinths.

In the 1st labyrinth, I totally could understand cherishing books and keeping them locked up safe and sound. And also not rereading them. There’s just too many great books, and so little time, that rarely reread a book. Case in point, I’ve already read “Homer Odyssey”, our other January book, so I probably won’t read it again. (note: review was written before I ended up re-reading Homer)

In the 2nd labyrinth, I had to almost agree with Sayo that reading an abridged version of a book might not be a totally horrible thing. But not abridged down to just one sentence for an entire book, ala “Melos was furious”. :lol:

This was a different type of book for me, and initially my rating was going to be 3 stars, but re-reading my review, I'm going to up it to 4 out of 5 stars;
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gilmargl

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Let's start with the easy one:

Homer’s Odyssey

Perhaps I was expecting too much, but this book was very run-of-the-mill. I have never owned a blind cat, but blind kittens are not euthanised and, while being fostered, are always paired off with a seeing kitten of the same age before the pair are found a suitable forever home together. The new owners are nowhere near as self-centred as Homer’s owner and would never boast about their blind cat. I found the book rather boring and repetitive. The tragedy of 9/11 was the most interesting part of Homer’s story when the author could not reach her cats (an extra star for that). But the rest was only worth 1 star.

⭐ ⭐

.....and now for the difficult one

The Cat Who Saved Books

Had I not had time to read both books, this is the book I would have chosen for January and so I read it first.

Reasons for choosing it: in reviews it was compared to “The Little Prince” as a book with a philosophical message. At school, I had to read “Le Petit Prince” in French and can’t pretend that I learnt anything new (perhaps I simply didn’t understand it) – but the illustrations were cute! Here, in Germany, it’s quoted in obituaries, birth announcements and at wedding services so there must be something I am missing. So, let’s try another book with philosophical allures – at least a cat as main character (if only in the title) may save the day for me.

Taking this simply as a story, it is an easy read. But, it left me with many unanswered questions and, although "logic and reason are never the best weapons in an irrational world", by the end I felt overwhelmed. As in the case of "The Little Prince", this book was filled with quotable quotes! :)

"A book that sits on a shelf is nothing but a bundle of paper. Unless it is opened, a book possessing great power, an epic story is a mere scrap of paper. But a book that has been cherished and loved, filled with human thoughts has been endowed with a soul", said Tiger, the cat, who the boy had first encountered in a book, read to him by his mother. (I would love to have found out what role Toger played in that children's book).

So with the help of Tiger and all the things that his grandpapa had taught him, the boy started a journey of self-awareness. His final statement before returning to reality:

“I don’t believe I have any special powers, and that includes the power to change anything. But if there is one thing I am good at, it’s talking about books. And I still have plenty to say. I’ve been thinking over the topic of the power of books for a long time now, and I believe I’ve found an answer.” Rintaro came to an abrupt halt staring into the darkness. “Books teach us how to care about others.”

(Well, I don't agree with that. If you don't learn it early on within the family, you may be lucky and learn it from books. It will depend on what books you read - there are plenty of books about wars, on religious propoganda, where there is no empathy for the enemy or nonconformists. Even harmless stories often delight in making fools of the underdogs.)

But Rintaro, the recluse, takes his grandpapa's advice "It’s not true that the more you read, the more you see of the world. No matter how much knowledge you cram into your head, unless you think with your own mind, walk with your own feet, the knowledge you acquire will never be anything more than empty and borrowed.” and decides to keep the bookshop but return to school and his new friends.

I read Chapter 4, twice to try to clear my head - but I'm now searching for an intelligent interpretation of this story as I'm sure I'm still missing something.

It's not really my type of book. The reference to "A Hundred Years of Solitude" being difficult made me smile. I read this classic, perhaps forty years ago - I enjoyed it immensely but will not reread it because it's rather long and the print is too small for my poor eyesight. The fact that there are so many characters with the same name may also prove too much for my ageing brain. :)

⭐⭐⭐
 

pearl99

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I read The Cat Who Saved Books, and have started Homer's Odyssey, so I'll just talk about the one right now.

I enjoyed that this was a book with a lot of quotable quotes and ideas.
I liked that Rintaro decided to stay and operate the book store, and that that likely will have him stepping out of his shell some more, due to something he loves. Which like his grandfather said, a person has to walk on his own two feet, and not be just an old encyclopedia.

It didn't occur to me that the cat may be his grandfather coming back as the cat to help, interesting idea. The personality is sure different than the grandfather was protrayed. I think the book was more "a boy who saved books," since Rintaro did most of the saving- the cat was the introduction vehicle to the labyrinths.

The second labyrinth- the summary/few words/condensing books had an idea I also liked, that difficult books are like a mountain to be summited and can be a feeling of accomplishment. With speed reading there isn't a lot of time to absorb and ponder what a person has read. Maybe I'll try 100 Years of Solitude now...but I could not make it through Paradise Lost, so I didn't surmount that book!
"The Ninth Symphony has to be played at the Ninth Symphony's pace..."
But Cliff Notes and the like have their purpose.

Another quote/idea at the end- about reading others' thoughts, stories we learn about other people and their worlds and maybe learn to care more, hopefully that happens with at least some people.

Nice that there was a little romance involved, a good ending, and ideas.
 
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rubysmama

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Just a few comments from the reviews that have been posted so far.

Altogether, a lovely book for anyone who loves cats, or who just roots for the underdog.
Glad you enjoyed it. I thought it was lovely too.

No, I won’t tell you what meanings I found, because yours are almost sure to be different, and I would not color them for you.
I wish you would, as I think mine are all wrong. :lol:

I was more than happy that I was able to purchase both books this month. I would not have missed either for the world.
So glad you were able to join us this month. And even more glad that you enjoyed both books. :)

But the rest was only worth 1 star.
Oh, that's too bad you didn't enjoy the book. :(

As in the case of "The Little Prince", this book was filled with quotable quotes! :)
Definitely tons of quotable quotes in this book. I've never read "The Little Prince". Should I.

said Tiger, the cat, who the boy had first encountered in a book, read to him by his mother.
Oh... I missed that Tiger was a cat from a children's book. That probably changes my entire interpretation of the book.

It didn't occur to me that the cat may be his grandfather coming back as the cat to help, interesting idea. The personality is sure different than the grandfather was protrayed.
Yeah, think I was all wrong about that.

I enjoyed that this was a book with a lot of quotable quotes and ideas.
So many great quotable quotes. I almost feel like re-borrowing the e-book just to look for the quotes. But too many other books to read. and only so much time. . ;)
 

pearl99

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Definitely tons of quotable quotes in this book. I've never read "The Little Prince". Should I.
I think so. I still have my copy that my mom gave me back in the 70's (I think)

Oh... I missed that Tiger was a cat from a children's book. That probably changes my entire interpretation of the book.
I missed that too.

The more often you read a haiku, the longer you look at an Ikebana arrangement, the more depth you perceive, the more multilayered they become, the deeper meaning you find within them. I plan to read this book several more times, and to take notes as I read and ponder. No, I won’t tell you what meanings I found, because yours are almost sure to be different, and I would not color them for you.
I'd like to hear meanings you found, Mamanyt1953 Mamanyt1953 ! (By the way, I've wondered what your "handle" means, I've always said to myself "mama new york times.")
 

Mamanyt1953

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LOL, actually, when I lived in Chattanooga, I had two young friends who used to love to pick me up and go riding at night. Only at night, because we were all night owls. One night, I walked out to the car, and jokingly said, "Hello, children of the night! Mother Dark is here!" They shifted Mother Dark into Mama Night, and never called me anything else again! When I was thinking about a new screen name, I changed the spelling slightly, and kept the nickname.
 

verna davies

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LOL, actually, when I lived in Chattanooga, I had two young friends who used to love to pick me up and go riding at night. Only at night, because we were all night owls. One night, I walked out to the car, and jokingly said, "Hello, children of the night! Mother Dark is here!" They shifted Mother Dark into Mama Night, and never called me anything else again! When I was thinking about a new screen name, I changed the spelling slightly, and kept the nickname.
So thats where the name came from.. mystery solved.
 

gilmargl

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This book won't leave me in peace - I've been thinking about it too much and need to move on! :)

My amateur interpretation of The Cat who Saved Books

Rintaro, an orphan, has been living with his grandfather in his second-hand bookshop. He loved books, knew about books and, although the old man did not talk much, Rintaro took all his words to heart. When grandpapa died, Rintaro was lost – refused to go to school and comforted himself with the books, dusting the shelves and following the rituals he had performed with his grandfather. Two pupils from school called in on their way to or from school but Rintaro assumed they were doing it out of habit or, in the case of Sayo, as part of her role as class rep. He talked to them about books but did not return to school.

The Dream

A cat appeared and asked for Mr Proprietor’s help. Books were being destroyed. He helped the cat on 3 missions, where books were being abused. Each time, when he saw what was being done, he put his fists in his eyes and thought about how his grandpa would have reacted. Each time the words came back to him and he spoke them with such conviction that the cat was satisfied.

(My interpretation – Rintaro was proud of his own new-found courage, expressing his arguments to adults, and was now half-convinced that he was good at talking about books and that he liked talking about books – keep the bookshop?)

A few days later, the cat reappeared telling him there was another labyrinth. It was even more dangerous, and the cat would not be there to help him. He would have to travel it alone. If he failed there was a good chance that he would never come back.
(My interpretation – this labyrinth had less to do with books (so no cat) but people. Rintaro would be a recluse for life).
Sajo was missing and needed his help. Before he was left on his own, the cat told him that books which are well-read and cherished have a soul. He remembered having met the cat in a story read to him by his mother.

In this labyrinth he met a very lonely, woman, sitting in his bookshop which was now empty of books. Screens showed the three men, whom he had convinced were mishandling books, now alone once they had taken his advice and given up their goals in life. Nobody was supporting them anymore. Rintaro didn’t know how to help the woman who in her despair, walked away into the darkness. It took all his courage to follow her – trying to think how to call her back – finally he shouted, “Books teach you how to care for others!” (I’ve forgotten the exact words!). She returned – with a little more hope in her lifeless eyes. The 3 men applauded Rintaro. They had found alternative ways to live and were surrounded once more by people.

End of dream and back to life!

Rintaro decides to keep the bookshop and not move away, (his aunt would make sure he was OK) and he would go back to school. He needed people to talk to about books and he needed Sayo to continue drinking tea with him. :)

Let’s hope it worked out!
..... and now to a more straightforward piece of literature?
 
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rubysmama

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gilmargl gilmargl : I love that you put so much thought into the book. I knew there was a deeper meaning, than what was on the surface, but had no idea what that might be. So very glad you shared your interpretation.
 

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Homers Odyssey

Overall I enjoyed this book, some of the antics of Homer made me laugh, parts I found interesting and informative especially about the abilities of a blind cat, some parts I found long winded. I'm sure all of us cat owners can relate to Homer, Scarlett and Vashti. I was aware that other senses are hightened when one is lost but some of the things that Homer achieved I wondered if they were totally accurate or some exaggeration for the sake of the story.

As cats dont generally like change Homer had several different homes as appeared to adapt quickly as well as being able to cohabit with the dogs.

When he stopped eating towards the end of the book I thought it wasnt going to be a happy ending but fortunately he recovered.

As a cat lover I found it a fast and easy book to read. I give it ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Cat Who Saved Books

Unfortunately my library failed to find this book in any of their branches and being so near to the end of year, they couldn't justify buying it just for me which I completely understand, therefore I cant write a review. However I am intrigued by the above reviews and will buy it at some time to read.
 
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