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Tea Leaves

As pandemic drags on, it's self-help time in Japan

Bookstores abound with advice on how to improve one's life, outlook and skills

The bestseller shelf at a major bookstore in Tokyo in August. (Photo by Edward M. Gómez)

Reader, heal thyself! In many a bookstore in Japan these days, that appears to be the message from publishers to consumers looking for summertime page-turners or browsers in search of popular titles about golf, computers and business-and-finance trends.

Summer arrived late in Japan this year following an unusually long and tedious rainy season, whose overcast days and unshakable dampness added to the sense of ukki (melancholy or gloom) provoked by the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. But Japanese bibliophiles have been emerging after a long, virus-induced stay-at-home period, looking for interesting books for pleasure, study or work-related research.

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