100 books like Kitchen

By Banana Yoshimoto, Megan Backus (translator),

Here are 100 books that Kitchen fans have personally recommended if you like Kitchen. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Convenience Store Woman

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

This contemporary, quirky tale centers around the life of Keiko, a young woman who has never done anything in a conventional way and has her mother very worried that her daughter will never find a man and settle down into a conventional life. No, Keiko’s ways of thinking are startling and odd in ways that are both amusing and somewhat horrifying, as she really does fall outside the realm of conventional thinking and socially rewarded behavior. The reader comes to love her as she grows into womanhood (and personhood) as a worker in a fast-paced convenience store, where she memorizes hundreds of products and practices behaving more “normally” by mimicking the actions and words of her co-workers. Then a man named Shiraha enters the picture, for a new twist.

By Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (translator),

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Convenience Store Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet Keiko.

Keiko is 36 years old. She's never had a boyfriend, and she's been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years.

Keiko's family wishes she'd get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won't get married.

But Keiko knows what makes her happy, and she's not going to let anyone come between her and her convenience store...


Book cover of The Sound of Waves

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

This is a gorgeous coming-of-age novel about a young, poor fisherman named Shinji who falls head over heels in love with a new girl on the island of Utajima. Japan’s most famous writer, Mishima, sets his romance in post-WWII where the innocence of Shinji and Hatsue is as pure and passionate as can be. The wind, the waves, the sea, the kiss that tastes of salt—all of nature intertwine with human life. The problem: Hatsue is actually the long-gone daughter of a major family who wants her to marry someone of equal social standing. With its humorous episodes, close descriptive imagery, and a plot that displays Mishima’s unabashed devotion to old-style traditions and customs, this little novel is one of my all-time favorites. 

By Yukio Mishima, Meredith Weatherby (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sound of Waves as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set in a remote fishing village in Japan, The Sound of Waves is a timeless story of first love. A young fisherman is entranced at the sight of the beautiful daughter of the wealthiest man in the village. They fall in love, but must then endure the calumny and gossip of the villagers.


Book cover of Kwaidan: Ghost Stories and Strange Tales of Old Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

Whether a fan of anime and video games, or an admirer of ancient Noh drama and Kabuki dances, one can’t really know the heart of Japan without reading Lafcadio Hearn’s translations of ghostly tales, all contained in this amazing volume. There are demons and goblins that exist way-y-y beyond the average Westerner’s mind. There are legends that send chills up and down the spine, creatures without faces, a man who marries the love of his life only to lose her after just five years because she is really the soul of a tree… Enjoy these stories of the bewitched and karmically affected characters.

By Lafcadio Hearn, Yasumasa Fujita (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Kwaidan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A blind musician with amazing talent is called upon to perform for the dead. Faceless creatures haunt an unwary traveler. A beautiful woman — the personification of winter at its cruelest — ruthlessly kills unsuspecting mortals. These and seventeen other chilling supernatural tales — based on legends, myths, and beliefs of ancient Japan — represent the very best of Lafcadio Hearn's literary style. They are also a culmination of his lifelong interest in the endlessly fascinating customs and tales of the country where he spent the last fourteen years of his life, translating into English the atmospheric stories he so…


Book cover of The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

Looking for a well-curated, wide variety of Japanese short stories written by nearly all the famous modernist novelists revered in Japan? This collection contains everything from Kawabata’s "The Izu Dancer" to Satomi Ton’s marvelously deep story called "Blowfish", wherein the hero—a famously talented Kabuki actor succumbs to the kind of brain-fogging, body-busting death that only blowfish poison can deliver. The author manages to get inside the head of his character, uncovering what transitioning into death feels like, with humor sprinkled here and there, and an emotional recollection/revelation about his own actor-father dying in a theater fire. 

By Theodore W. Goossen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Oxford Book of Japanese Short Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This collection of short stories, including many new translations, is the first to span the whole of Japan's modern era from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day. Beginning with the first writings to assimilate and rework Western literary traditions, through the flourishing of the short story genre in the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the Taisho era, to the new breed of writers produced under the constraints of literary censorship, and the current writings reflecting the pitfalls and paradoxes of modern life, this anthology offers a stimulating survey of the development of the Japanese short story. Various indigenous…


Book cover of They Came to Japan: An Anthology of European Reports on Japan, 1543-1640

David Flath Author Of The Japanese Economy

From my list on captivating Japanese history.

Who am I?

I'm a retired economics professor from the US who studied Japan for most of my 46-year career and have lived in Kyoto since 2008. I first visited Kyoto in 1981, naively hoping to revel in the splendors of the Heian era, and was disappointed to find that the physical manifestations of medieval Japan as evoked in The Tale of Genji had vanished. But the persisting legacy of that ancient age is still evident to the trained observer. Japan today embodies its past. It's not enough to know that Japan today is a prosperous country. Curious people also want to know how it got that way. The roots lie deep in the past. 

David's book list on captivating Japanese history

David Flath Why did David love this book?

This is an impressive collection of first-person accounts of experiences in Japan by various Europeans including Jesuit missionaries, adventurers, and others. Each account is short, and all are organized by themes. Here we learn of audiences with Nobunaga,  Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu, along with reports of some of their atrocities. Other entries pertain to the daily life of Japanese people and still others describe great temples and shrines that are still there today. The immediacy of these commentaries sends me back in time to this pivotal epoch in Japanese history when civil wars were ending and two centuries of closure were about to begin. This is ecstasy for the Walter Mitty in me. 

By Michael Cooper,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked They Came to Japan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Japan accidentally discovered by the Europeans in 1543 was a country torn by internecene wars waged by independent barons who recognised no effective central government and were free to appropriate as many neighbouring fiefs as force of arms and treachery would permit. The Japan which deported the Europeans a century later was a stable, highly centralised bureaucracy under the firm control of a usurping family which was to continue to rule the country until well into the Victorian age. Europeans living in Japan at the time have not only recorded the events of this fascinating period but also provided…


Book cover of The Japanese: A History in Twenty Lives

Thomas Lockley Author Of African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan

From my list on Japan’s global history.

Who am I?

I first came to Japan knowing nothing about the place I was going to live. With hindsight, that was perhaps foolish, but it started my adventure in Japanese history. At first, I stumbled through blindly, reading the odd book and watching dramas and movies for fun. But then I discovered Yasuke, an African who became samurai in 1581. He focused me, and I started reading to discover his world. History means nothing without knowing what came before and after, so I read more, and more, until suddenly, I was publishing books and articles, and appearing on Japanese TV. It has gone well beyond the African Samurai now, but I am eternally grateful to him for his guidance.

Thomas' book list on Japan’s global history

Thomas Lockley Why did Thomas love this book?

Twenty Lives is truly compelling. Very well written, a book you won’t put down. Anyone can pick it up and not be put off by academic terminology, complicated writing style, or as often happens with books about Japan in English, an overwhelming sense of Japanese ‘otherness.’ This book treats Japanese people as themselves, without engaging in over-the-top characterizations and stereotypes. A non-academic introduction to the full sweep of Japanese history.

By Christopher Harding,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Japanese as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A SUNDAY TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2020

'Mightily impressive ... a marvellous read' Waldemar Januszczak, Sunday Times

From the acclaimed author of Japan Story, this is the history of Japan, distilled into the stories of twenty remarkable individuals.

The vivid and entertaining portraits in Chris Harding's enormously enjoyable new book take the reader from the earliest written accounts of Japan right through to the life of the current empress, Masako. We encounter shamans and warlords, poets and revolutionaries, scientists, artists and adventurers - each offering insights of their own into this extraordinary place.

For anyone new to Japan, this…


Book cover of Between Two Cultures: An Introduction to Economic History

Thomas D. Conlan Author Of Weapons & Fighting Techniques of the Samurai Warrior 1200-1877 AD

From my list on medieval European history to Japanese literature.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated with history in general, and the history of Japan, since I was in junior high when I read a book on the samurai. After attending summer school at Harvard in 1985, I resolved to devote myself to the study of Japan. Since then, I have studied at Michigan, Stanford, and Kyoto before teaching Japanese history at first Bowdoin College and now, Princeton University. Although I primarily research Japanese history, I find scholarship pertaining to medieval and early modern Europe to be fascinating as well. 

Thomas' book list on medieval European history to Japanese literature

Thomas D. Conlan Why did Thomas love this book?

Cipolla, a brilliant author, shows in this study how economic history and economic concepts can be used to study the past even when they did not exist at the time. Cipolla engagingly explains how economic concepts, even when unrecognized, can be useful tools of analysis. In order to demonstrate this principle, for example, he memorably explains how the clothes used to prevent plague in medieval Europe were effective for reasons totally different than contemporaries realized. Mistaken understandings could still lead to effective actions.  

By Carlo M. Cipolla, Christopher Woodall (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Between Two Cultures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this wise and witty work, a world-renowned economic historian takes us behind the scenes to observe a small band of scholars reconstructing the past with the tools of economic analysis and the narrative power of the traditional historian.


Book cover of The Dark Valley: A Panorama of the 1930s

David Hanna Author Of Broken Icarus: The 1933 Chicago World's Fair, the Golden Age of Aviation, and the Rise of Fascism

From my list on the perils of fascism.

Who am I?

I've found the creep of authoritarianism to be very disquieting. One would have to be willfully blind to not see its manifestations both here and abroad. I wanted to better understand how this phenomenon cast its shadow over the world and I found the '33 Chicago World's Fair an ideal lens to view this through. I've been fascinated by world's fairs since I was a child and the '33 Fair was the first to consciously feature the future. I'm also strangely drawn to this period – if I believed in reincarnation it might provide answers, but I don't. The Zeitgeist just before the full, brutal ugliness of fascism broke over the world, fascinates me.

David's book list on the perils of fascism

David Hanna Why did David love this book?

Brendon’s Magnus opus on the 1930s is both comprehensive and full of the telling anecdote. I found this to be one of the most informative, and best written, works of history that I have ever read. I can’t recommend it strongly enough, whether you’re researching this period or just looking for a very good book to read.

By Piers Brendon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dark Valley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The 1930s were perhaps the seminal decade in twentieth-century history, a dark time of global depression that displaced millions, paralyzed the liberal democracies, gave rise to totalitarian regimes, and, ultimately, led to the Second World War. In this sweeping history, Piers Brendon brings the tragic, dismal days of the 1930s to life.

From Stalinist pogroms to New Deal programs, Brendon re-creates the full scope of a slow international descent towards war. Offering perfect sketches of the players, riveting descriptions of major events and crises, and telling details from everyday life, he offers both a grand, rousing narrative and an intimate…


Book cover of Horror

Leon Hunt Author Of Mario Bava: The Artisan as Italian Horror Auteur

From my list on European horror films.

Who am I?

I'm a Senior Lecturer in Film and Television with a particular passion for the horror genre – the first film books I ever read were about Horror. I'm also a confirmed Italophile. I became fascinated by Mario Bava – and later, Italian horror more broadly – before I saw his films from accounts and images of them in books and magazines. The films weren’t easy to see before video, DVD/blu-ray or streaming, and so I was on a mission over time to track them all down. This is how cult reputations often develop – from obscurity to re-evaluation – and that was one of the things I wanted to address in my book. 

Leon's book list on European horror films

Leon Hunt Why did Leon love this book?

This is possibly the film book I flick through more than any other, usually to check a review. 

Again, it covers the Horror genre broadly (year by year) but introduced me to a lot more European entries that I had never heard of, as well as horror films from Japan and other countries. I disagree with many of the critical opinions in the book but that doesn’t make them any less interesting.  

By Phil Hardy (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Horror as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the best single volume book on the horror film, the definitive reference work devoted to the subject. It contains entries on every movie even remotely connected to the genre, whether it is a 19-century silent, a grade "Z" schlocker, or an "art" film by the likes of Fritz Lang or Ingmar Bergman. Each entry contains a full list of credits and a descriptive review. Hardy writes about horror movies with such enthusiasm and intelligence that you feel you're getting the low down on the genre from a sincere and learned friend.


Book cover of No Longer Human

May Leitz Author Of Girl Flesh: An Extreme Horror Novel About Love

From my list on unfathomable nightmares.

Who am I?

I’ve always seen myself as the kind of person that could tolerate any painful reality. My life has led me in directions that required me to delve deep into the difficult aspects to find some light at the end of the tunnel. Growing up in Texas, I’ve found that being tough is a prescription given to every child. The elements and culture were always difficult, and the realities of loss, drug addiction, and an exhaustive worker culture were a constant that required reinforcement or abandonment. The books I’ve read and written are a product of that environment and its necessities. 

May's book list on unfathomable nightmares

May Leitz Why did May love this book?

No Longer Human spans an entire human life in all its nuances and difficulties.

In some of the more difficult periods of my life, I’ve remembered my experience of No Longer Human and its intricacies in depicting the swarm of political ideology and manipulation of difficult relationships.

It’s a work that beckons you to live your life to your ends and fear only your loss of control over your narrative.

By Osamu Dazai, Donald Keene (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No Longer Human as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Portraying himself as a failure, the protagonist of Osamu Dazai's No Longer Human narrates a seemingly normal life even while he feels himself incapable of understanding human beings. Oba Yozo's attempts to reconcile himself to the world around him begin in early childhood, continue through high school, where he becomes a "clown" to mask his alienation, and eventually lead to a failed suicide attempt as an adult. Without sentimentality, he records the casual cruelties of life and its fleeting moments of human connection and tenderness.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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