The Book of Form and Emptiness

By Ruth Ozeki,

Book cover of The Book of Form and Emptiness

Book description

"No one writes like Ruth Ozeki-a triumph." -Matt Haig, New York Times bestselling author of The Midnight Library

"Inventive, vivid, and propelled by a sense of wonder." -TIME

"If you've lost your way with fiction over the last year or two, let The Book of Form and Emptiness light your…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked The Book of Form and Emptiness as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This story is about Benny a teenager who can hear objects speaking and his mother, who is a compulsive hoarder.

Benny finds a group of people in a hidden wing of the local library which introduces him to a new world where he is accepted. He meets Aleph a drug user who leaves lines of poetry on paper in the books of the library and Slavoj a homeless drunk man who spouts much philosophy from his wheelchair. Ozeki makes the reality fantastic, the work is grounded in ordinary details.

The book is a beautiful portrait of a mix of characters…

From Hoa's list on slippaging between worlds.

Within these pages, Ruth Ozeki creates a world like no other. The Book of Form and Emptiness is thought-provoking, compelling, and thoroughly original. This story took me places I’ve never been before, and I was awestruck throughout the journey. Exploring loss, bereavement, mental illness, and Zen Buddhism, this is a multi-layered, insightful, and deeply spiritual tale. One that is unforgettable. Significantly, it is also a novel that celebrates books and libraries, two of my favorite things, with the book itself as a protagonist. What could be better?

From Judith's list on exploring the search for sanctuary.

The Book of Form & Emptiness actually speaks aloud, explaining life’s conundrums, asking existential questions, and dispensing advice. It is a book (as in my fourth and fifth picks), that comforts a young bereft narrator who has endured unspeakable loss. Narrators I almost always fall for are young readers that find books to be a life-saving solace. Benny is one such teller of tales who finds a refuge at the library where he can hear books speak aloud, soothing him as his world spins out of control and he fears losing his somewhat peculiar mind.

From Christine's list on books with books as characters.


By David Joiner,

Book cover of Kanazawa

David Joiner Author Of Kanazawa

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

My book recommendations reflect an abiding passion for Japanese literature, which has unquestionably influenced my own writing. My latest literary interest involves Japanese poetry—I’ve recently started a project that combines haiku and prose narration to describe my experiences as a part-time resident in a 1300-year-old Japanese hot spring town that Bashō helped make famous in The Narrow Road to the Deep North. But as a writer, my main focus remains novels. In late 2023 the second in a planned series of novels set in Ishikawa prefecture will be published. I currently live in Kanazawa, but have also been lucky to call Sapporo, Akita, Tokyo, and Fukui home at different times.

David's book list on Japanese settings not named Tokyo or Kyoto

What is my book about?

Emmitt’s plans collapse when his wife, Mirai, suddenly backs out of purchasing their dream home. Disappointed, he’s surprised to discover her subtle pursuit of a life and career in Tokyo.

In his search for a meaningful life in Japan, and after quitting his job, he finds himself helping his mother-in-law translate Kanazawa’s most famous author, Izumi Kyoka, into English. He becomes drawn into the mysterious death of a friend of Mirai’s parents, leading him and his father-in-law to climb the mountain where the man died. There, he learns the somber truth and discovers what the future holds for him and his wife.

Packed with subtle literary allusion and closely observed nuance, Kanazawa reflects the mood of Japanese fiction in a fresh, modern incarnation.


By David Joiner,

What is this book about?

In Kanazawa, the first literary novel in English to be set in this storied Japanese city, Emmitt's future plans collapse when his wife, Mirai, suddenly backs out of negotiations to purchase their dream home. Disappointed, he's surprised to discover Mirai's subtle pursuit of a life and career in Tokyo, a city he dislikes.

Harmony is further disrupted when Emmitt's search for a more meaningful life in Japan leads him to quit an unsatisfying job at a local university. In the fallout, he finds himself helping his mother-in-law translate Kanazawa's most famous author, Izumi Kyoka, into English.

While continually resisting Mirai's…

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