Primary Genre: Contemporary Fiction
First published: 30 Aug 2012 in Japan
Page count: 176
Memorable Factor: High
Ending: Also poignant, sentimental
Would I recommend it: Yes!
Commission Link: https://amzn.to/2WXakuz
My rating: ★★★★★
Synopsis from Goodreads
The postman’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage to keep him company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can tackle his bucket list, the Devil appears to make him an offer: In exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, our narrator will get one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week… With each object that disappears the postman reflects on the life he’s lived, his joys and regrets, and the people he’s loved and lost.
Hugely popular in Japan, this gem of a book is now available in English. What a unique perspective on the meaning of life! This short book contains humor, pain, regret, hope, and ultimately… forgiveness, reconciliation, and love. Here are my pros and cons:
- This book hooked me from the very start. A seemingly sad story about a young life cut short by a terminal illness, yet filled with laughter, ridiculous situations and lots and lots of analysis of a life lived. I thought it was extremely well written – you don’t get bogged down in the tragedy of an impending death because you are taken on an interesting excursion filled with choices, losses, and lessons.
- So many awesome, thought-provoking statements in this book! I’ve listed them below for you to reflect upon yourself. I think they are so well written – poignant yet hopeful, devastating yet optimistic. Emphasis is my own for the parts I felt were particularly impactful.
“You only realize what the really important things are once you’ve lost them.”
“Had I done anything significant during my thirty-year existence? I wondered. Had I spent time with the people whom I really wanted to spend time with? Had I said all that needed to be said to the people who mattered? Did I call my mother as much as I should have? I got so caught up with all the little everyday tasks that I ended up wasting the time that I could have been spending on more important things. But the scariest thing is that I never even noticed that I was wasting my own precious time. If only I’d stopped for a moment to get some perspective, away from all that running around I was doing, it would have been obvious what the most important thing was, and which of those phone calls I needed to make (if any) really mattered.”
“Everyone dies eventually. The fatality rate is 100 percent. When you think about it in those terms, whether your death is a happy death or an unhappy death depends on how you’ve lived your life.”
“A lot of people buy into the slogan “Live life like there’s no tomorrow.” But I tend to disagree. Once you become aware of your impending death, you have to make a compromise in accepting the loss of the life you wish you could have led and the reality of your imminent death. Sure, there will always be regrets and broken dreams, but you have to go easy on yourself. Over the last few days, I’ve come to realize that there’s a certain beauty in those regrets. They’re proof of having lived.”
- The devil appears “brightly colored Hawaiian shirts with patterns of palm trees and classic American cards, board shorts, and a pair of Ray-Bans propped on his head”. Definitely not your typical depiction of the devil!
- The book takes place in a very short period of time – from a Monday to a Saturday. The main character has a decision to make every day regarding something the devil suggests to “remove from the world”. As items are removed the main character reflects on what those items actually meant to him, his life, and the lives of others in general. It was an interesting look at some of the vanity and needs of humans.
- This book is much more profound than its number of pages would indicate on the surface. It is succinct, extremely well-written, and it will tug at your heartstrings.
- I absolutely can’t think of a single one.
I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway and I am so glad I did. This thought-provoking story should be read by everyone! Think about the things you might do to extend your life if you knew you were terminal. Could you make something disappear from the world permanently in exchange for an extra day of life? If not, what things would you want to do near the end? These are topics none of us really want to think about, but doing so ultimately helps us understand what really matters most.
Read this book.
Thank you Flatiron Books for a free copy via Goodreads Giveaways. All opinions above are my own.
If you are interested in this book please consider purchasing through this link: https://amzn.to/2WXakuz. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks!