Belinda’s Book Nook Review: Tale of the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki


“A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying, but before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace—and will touch lives in a ways she can scarcely imagine.

Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox—possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.

Full of Ozeki’s signature humour and deeply engaged with the relationship between writer and reader, past and present, fact and fiction, quantum physics, history, and myth, A Tale for the Time Being is a brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.

My thoughts:

Have you ever wanted to read a book, bought it and then sit down to read it and about 10 pages in you stop to do something else and not return to the book? Sometimes I think I have ADD when it comes to books. Some books just suck me in and I can’t get enough. Others I have to put a bit of effort to finish. Then there are some that either fall after an amazing book and to no fault of its own, suffer neglect. So I started and stopped this book really quick a few years ago when I bought it. Then I tried again and got further and still ditched it.  But something in me said that I needed to read this book. I read for many reasons. Sometimes for pure pleasure other times for escape, and other times to grow. I put this book into the latter category. Which is why it might take a bit more effort for me to read.  Going into this, I wanted to explore Japan, the life of a Buddhist nun, the life of a teenage Japanese girl, and a writer. So I knew that sooner or later the right time would present itself and I would read this book. That time came in two ways: I found the audiobook version of the book on Hoopla and I wanted to read something for Japanese June. Japanese is an online book challenge created by a booktuber that wanted to encourage more exposure to Japanese authors and literature.

So I embarked on the audiobook version which was the best option for me for this book because the author read the book and she captured the essence so well with her voice. I saw Ruth Ozeki speak on a television interview and really enjoyed listening to her talk. Ruth is a writer, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest.  So I knew she would bring a wealth of first-hand knowledge to the book.

I first want to warn the reader that there is some graphic sexual content in a few places in the book and some pretty heavy bullying scenes. So if that might be a trigger then this might be a bit more of a challenge to read. I found them challenging but pushed through because I felt what the book had to offer outweighed my discomfort in a few sections.

The book switched back and forth between Nao, a Japanese teenager, and Ruth. The story of Nao was so intriguing. Even though she is Japanese, she grew up in California and when her family was forced to return to Japan, she is not welcome by the Japanese children at school. They call her names and bully her in unimaginable ways.  It was heartbreaking to read at times. The story of Ruth is her relationship with her husband, her thoughts about her life choices and how the discovery of Nao’s diary impacts her life.  I won’t go into it more than that because it will spoil the book.

Overall, I truly enjoyed this audiobook and loved her definition of a time being and how she intertwines both stories. I am glad that I persisted to find a way to read this book. For some, the print might work but for me, I appreciated the book more via audio format.  That said, I recommend if you get an option try reading it first and if you find yourself doing what I did, then check out the audiobook version. I give this book 4 butterflies!

Happy reading!


Title: Tale for the Time Being
Author: Ruth Ozeki
Copyright: March 12, 2013
Genre: fiction
Format: audiobook book Pages: 422

join the conversation


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: