Hermann Hesse’s Journey of the Heart

Narcissus, a young adult, lives a sheltered life in a monastery with other monks who value quiet contemplation. His faith and lifestyle travel a path relatively free of pain and suffering. And passion. He is tied to a sense of duty.

Narcissus welcomes Goldmund, a teen-ager, to the cloister and guides him to peer deep inside himself. Goldmund discovers his own artistic talents as well as his restless soul. He leaves Narcissus to live the life of a homeless, faithless man who endures great pain and suffering. Passion is his driving force.

Whose life was superior? Happier? More worthy?

After many years, Goldmund returns to Narcissus and from the messiness of Goldmund’s life, the monk finds his own clarity and realizes the depth of his love for his former student. His revelations will give readers pause.

Narcissus and Goldmund. German philosopher/author Hermann Hesse at his best.

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.