Audiobook: Before the Coffee Gets Cold

by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Read by Anna Li
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Content: There’s not much objectionable. it’s in the Fiction section of the bookstore.

In a small, underground cafe in Tokyo, there is a chair that will take you back in time. There are rules, of course, but if you follow the rules you can go back and meet someone. Perhaps it’s a husband who has now forgotten you because of Alzheimer’s; or a boyfriend you had a bad conversation with; or a sister, who is now dead. Or maybe, you are brave enough to go into the future to meet the daughter you birthed but then died shortly after. Whoever you meet, while you can’t change the present, maybe you can just set your heart at peace. 

I was at first charmed by this short book – the narrator is good, and the translation (it was originally written and published in Japanese) isn’t bad. But honestly: as the book went on, I became more impatient with it. They repeated things – do I really need the Rules for Traveling every time someone new sits in the seat? – and while I didn’t dislike the characters, I didn’t really like them either. I feel like there was so much more Telling than Showing – let me tell you all about this character or this situation, rather than just letting it unfold naturally. I usually listen to my audiobooks at 1.0 speed, because I liked to hear the narrator and the story unfold at a natural pace. But I got fed up with this one, and sped through the last quarter because I was just Done with this book (but too close to the end to bail). 

I don’t get why people love it, or why it sold so many copies. But that’s just probably me.

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