Free Country: What a Ride!

Wearing just underwear emblazoned with the British flag, George Mahood and his buddy left Land’s End in southwest England without a penny, determined to bicycle to the northern tip of Great Britain. They would rely on the generosity and good hearts of the people, from pub owners and accommodation hosts to the police.

They would not solicit cash, but would accept meals, rooms, clothes, old bicycles and whatever else they needed. They would offer to wash dishes and do other work. They were out to prove that people are good.

If you have not read a book by George Mahood, you are in for a treat. His writing in Free Country is even more entertaining than his story’s premise and is powered by humor and down-to-earth human touches.

I doubt it will be the last George Mahood book you read.

What? Are Cats Goners?

A doctor tells a young postman that he has brain cancer and just days to live. As the postman considers what to do with the rest of his life, the devil appears, wearing an Hawaiian shirt and offering a deal: Give me permission to take something from the world and you get an extra day to live.

If Cats Disappeared from the World, a hand-sized book of 168 pages, takes the unnamed protagonist on a journey of discovery as he adds days to his life, but learns that some things are more important than life itself. Japanese author Genki Kawamura’s first novel sold more than a million copies in Japan and was adapted for film in 2016. Eric Selland wrote the English translation of the book.

The light, humorous story takes readers deep into the postman’s life while he contemplates relationships, mortality, and his cat, named Cabbage. Suspense builds as he sees the results of his deals with the devil.

No spoilers here; I won’t name the things the devil chooses to take from the world. I will say this: If Cats Disappeared from the World is the best book I have read in 2020.