Giving Books and Books That Give Back

By ELLEN ENDO

Put down that cell phone, and pick up a book. Ah, if it were only that easy to return the printed word to its rightful position as the medium of choice for transporting us to another place and time.

The Rafu posits that books make great holiday gifts. They are thought-provoking, reasonably priced, easy to purchase online or otherwise, and the perfect size for gift-wrapping. We went shopping on your behalf, and here are a few titles we found:


An adaptation of the true story of feudal Japan by Mike Richardson is combined with the acclaimed artistry of Stan Sakai, groundbreaking Japanese American comic book creator and cartoonist best known for the series “Usagi Yojimbo.” Anime, manga, and samurai genre fans quickly discovered this collectible book with its vivid images and enduring story of the samurai code of honor and an epic mission to avenge their wronged master, Lord Asano.


A Kirkus review describes Karen Yamashita’s work, released last summer, as “part research, part history, part literary criticism, part spiritual meditation, and part open wound.”

Indeed, Yamashita’s nonfiction book is difficult to classify because it transcends the typical wartime memoir with the ephemeral writing style that has lifted her to the top of her profession. As Yamashita quotes sparingly from family letters, the reader meets the people who emerged from those exchanges, like Tomi Yamashita, who faced the challenges of America’s dark chapter when she arrived at Tanforan Race Track in 1942 with her seven children and their descendants.


Winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, Nagasaki-born Kazuo Ishiguro has created an impressive body of work that includes his best-known “Remains of the Day” and “Never Let Me Go,” both of which were made into feature films. His latest book, “The Buried Giant,” introduces the reader to a different facet to Ishiguro’s imagination, delving into the mythical time of ogres, sprites, and dragons. When it was originally published in 2015, it was his first novel in nearly a decade.

The author, who has lived in England since the age of 5, tells the story of lost memories, love, revenge, and war.


Sharon Yamato’s curiosity about the people and re-purposed barracks that she found while driving outside of Cody, Wyoming led her write a follow-up to her 1994 book chronicling how two barracks from the former Heart Mountain concentration camp wound up inside the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.

A filmmaker and author, Yamato provides a clear narrative to the haunting images in Stan Honda’s artful photographs. Ride along with Yamato as she peers inside the barracks to show us these new incarnations as storage sheds, garages, kitchens, and homes.


For little ones, ages 3 to 9, “I Love to Tell the Truth” is fun to read and has a message parents should love. Released this fall in multiple languages, including a bilingual Japanese-English version, it is part of a popular series of books.

It follows Jimmy the little bunny, who accidentally ruins his mother’s favorite flowers and must grapple with the ultimate dilemma: Is honesty the best policy or should he try to solve the problem in another way?