Sidenote: I read fast. I eke out time to read, on my phone, on my e-reader-occasionally an actual physical book. I aim for a book or two a week. Because I am not good at keeping up with current events, I use books as avenues to conversation. Probably, I have read it, or am about to read it. Send me suggestions lowdramamama at gmail dot com

Edmund de Waal’s account of his family’s set of tiny Japanese carvings (netsuke) as they traveled, miraculously together and intact, through several hundred years of rich and troubled history, is precious and breathtaking.  As unsentimental as I am, as infrequently attached to objects as I have mostly found myself, I felt connected to the netsuke. I felt connected to the multiple generations of de Waal’s ancestors who sheparded the carvings through unrest, wars, riots, fires, genocides, emigrations, alienation, wealth, poverty and yes, I’ll be very cornball for a moment, some true love. Before the author and then a museum, the netsuke reside with de Waal’s uncle Iggy and his life partner Jiro; this pair could have their own novel. 

The book is emotionally rich without being maudlin. de Waal creates amazing visual landscapes. I will admit that it taught me some history. Read it. It will improve your life.