It was a good way to get out of the drizzle, hadn’t been there in a while, so I stopped today in Shibuya to browse the big English language bookstore, Tower Books. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, Shibuya is a major hub in Tokyo, a crowded, noisy, bright and gaudy mecca for young people shopping or looking to have a good time. Every kind of store you can imagine, countless restaurants both cheap and expensive, and enough Starbucks to fill the street corners of Seattle. Shibuya is also home to Tower Records, a bright yellow seven story building, with the top floor devoted to books and magazines in English. The inventory of books there is not bad at all, and getting out of the store empty handed is a rare experience for me.
I wasn’t looking for any particular title today, just wandering the aisles between shelves hoping I might stumble upon something interesting. For the first ten minutes I normally have a set route checking the sections of those writers I like: Straight over to the Bukowski shelves, a few steps to the left to check John Banville, over to the right some to see if a new Chabon title has come in, a look farther down for Philip Caputo. Today I made a point of looking for a wonderful book I read recently on my Kindle, one getting a lot of attention these days, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. Mainly, I was interested in whether or not Tower might have a hardback copy. It’s one of those books I would like to have a lasting copy of. I found a paperback and only one copy, which could mean it was the last copy remaining, or maybe the only copy ordered by the store.
I won’t say too much about this book here, but it is one I recommend to those readers who enjoy a story about dogs, but who also enjoy a story about communication, devotion, loyalty, sickness, love, children and three or four other themes if I stop to think. Enzo is the narrator, a dog whose great regret is that he doesn’t have opposable thumbs, or a tongue that can manage speech. I’ve yet to hear a person say they didn’t love this book. Look this one up the next time you’re in Barnes & Noble or one of the other stores.