This book was recommended to me by a woman in a bookshop after I asked for ideas for light reading. I never got the woman’s name but I am so grateful to her because I don’t think I would have thought to buy this for myself had she not suggested it. This is the second book in the series, so it’s a bit of an odd order to read in, but I was assured that the book makes sense as a standalone! It’s not a very long book but the story is, in a word, captivating.

The premise is simple, in the back streets of Tokyo there is a café where one can travel back in time. There are, of course, rules to this time travel: you can only travel to a point in history in the café (and you must stay in your seat) and you can’t change the past. In order to return to the present you just have to finish your coffee, but you must finish the coffee before it gets cold. It’s a thought provoking premise…it got me thinking what I would do and who I would visit if I could utilise the café.

Throughout each chapter of the book we are introduced to four unique individuals and their stories as they travel back in time for various reasons. We meet a man who is seeking advice from a friend who passed away 22 years ago, and a man who travels to see his mother whose funeral he had missed. There is also a man who travels to see the girl that he couldn’t marry and an ex-detective to travels to give his wife the gift he never got to give her. All these stories were so heartwarming and moving. There were twists and turns, tears and laughs, and the whole book succeeded in making me feel warm and comforted. I felt like I was in the café myself, watching these stories unfold and experiencing the pain and joy with the characters. It was an entirely unique experience of reading.

Kawaguchi has an incredible, undeniable talent for writing human stories. It is just so refreshing to read about real human lives, that aren’t dramatised but are still captivating. This is definitely light reading in the sense that it’s a short book with short stories, but it’s so admirable how much we are drawn into these peoples stories and lives in such a short amount of time. The setting is charming, the characters are lovable and the stories are touching.

If you’re experiencing a lull in your motivation and ability to read, I would definitely recommend this book to recapture a love of reading. It’s refreshing, heartwarming and such a good read. I’ve been told that the previous book centred around four women and their reasons for using the café, which has only enticed me more to read that book next – if it’s anything like this one I’m sure I will love it, and I’m sure you will love it too.