This Is What Happened When An Aussie Read My Book on Japan

My non-fiction book that I’m so proud of despite its terrible, terrible title – BIG LIKE: CASCADE INTO AN ODYSSEY (I mean, come on!) – received 13 reviews on Amazon, including a 1-star. She didn’t buy the book, didn’t read it, didn’t discuss it. She had a mysterious ax to grind and thought my articles, the very ones you’ve been reading, are “paid-for promos.” Clearly, she never read any of my articles either.

The remaining 12 reviews were all 5-star. Many other readers have contacted me via the “Contact” tab to let me know how much they enjoyed the book. Writing a book is a dreadfully lonesome activity that can drag out over years. So I always absolutely love hearing from my readers.

One reviewer on Amazon was my high school sweetheart. She’d popped in and out of my life somewhat painfully for about another 15 years before and in between her various marriages until I finally succeeded in drawing a line and losing touch with her. Well, she left a 5-star review. How did she find the book? Google me? You’ll recognize the review when you see it.

And you know what? That 5-star review from her felt totally awesome! They all do.

I write between 5 and 10 articles every week. The successful pieces are read by tens of thousands of people. I love that. But the pleasure I get from people reading my book is very different. Knowing that people enjoy what I spent so much effort creating specifically for their enjoyment is a wonderful gift.

So now Mark Hansen, WOLF STREET’S new voice from Australia, discovered BIG LIKE. I’m a regular reader of his website, Market Cap, where he posted his review of my book. It warmed my soul. So here it is, cross-posted from his site.

By Mark Hansen, Australia, MarketCap:

At its heart, BIG LIKE is a love story set against the enigmatic social mores of Japan. It is well written and offers fascinating insights into the culture. For example (the only spoiler), there is no Japanese word for “love.” The phrase “big like” is the closest approximation, and thus the book’s title.

The story begins in the US with Wolf quitting his job of 10 years, to everyone’s surprise.  His plan is to travel the world and expand his horizons before he dies.

His first point of call is France, where he meets his soon to be lover, Izumi. While he is in Europe we find out much about his childhood and why he left his home for the US, at the age of 17.

Wolf travels through Fiji, New Zealand, Australia and Bali before heading to Japan. This first section of the book is short and sets the scene for an absolute tour de force: His love affair with Izumi and his love/hate affair with Japan.

The ending is inconclusive, one suspects a sequel may be in the pipeline. The section set in Japan would make a great movie, perhaps comparable with Lost in Translation (2003).

I highly recommend Big Like. Buy it at Amazon – BIG LIKE: CASCADE INTO AN ODYSSEY, by Wolf Richter, 2011, ISBN1467967491

BIG LIKE is also available at Amazon sites in the UK, in Deutschland, en España, en France, in Italia, in Japan, and in Australia (Kindle only). In Australia for the paperback, go to Book Depository.

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  14 comments for “This Is What Happened When An Aussie Read My Book on Japan

  1. kc says:

    Hi Wolf Richter,

    Is this book available for UK customers…I can’t seem to buy & download to my kindle which is frustrating – just read the first few pages on Amazon – looks great!



  2. Egbert_S says:

    Konichiwa Richter-San,
    can you tell me please in which german town you was born or grow up? For you the american dream (maybe) come true. As a former car guy you know my birthtown too. The famous Auto Union AG was founded there. It’s not munich.

    Best regards from Berlin-Friedrichshain

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Nuremberg. It’s not a secret. It’s in Chapter 1 – “Airmail from Afterlife” :-)

      • Egbert_S says:

        My first travel after the fall of the iron curtain in late autumn 1989 was from Karl-Marx-Stadt ( today better known as Chemnitz) to ….. Nurenberg. Autobahn A 9. With a 26 horsepower, two stroke, two cylinder Trabant 601. We visit the Christkindlesmarkt. :-)

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Cool! You should have kept the Trabbi. Now worth a lot of money. I heard, maybe up to €6,000. Not quite like a classic Lambo, but still.

  3. Julian the Apostate says:

    I didn’t know you’d written a book, Wolf. I will hunt it down and devour it!
    Your Servant, Sir

  4. Hazel says:

    I read it last year (purchased on amazon) and found it interesting, heart-tending, and quite wonderful. Thanks for publishing.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Thanks, Hazel. And thanks also for the supportive words on Amazon, both times!

    • Wolf Richter says:

      What I meant to say, Hazel: thanks a million times … “for the supportive words on Amazon, both times, AND for your 5-star review!” Somehow I left off the last part in my prior reply. I know you’ve been reading my stuff here and at my predecessor site for years. I truly appreciate that!!!

  5. a Texas libertarian says:


    I haven’t read your book, but I’ll put it on my list. I love Japanese culture, but hate Japanese politics and the dreadful sort of economics it imposes on its citizens, so I have a feeling I’ll enjoy the book.

    Every morning at work, you’re my first stop to get a pulse on the financial world before I start my day, and I’ve really enjoyed your articles and insight over the past few years. Keep up the great work and God bless you and yours,

    I’d be interested to know if you’ve read any Rothbard or Mises, because you seem to have an Austrian perspective on money, and which if any of their books had an impact on you and your outlook on the financial world. Perhaps Hazlitt?


    • Wolf Richter says:


      I read some of their stuff. Earlier in my life, I took economics courses in grad school at UT at Austin (MBA). Over time, I’ve come to the conclusion that economics is a good tool to “describe” an economy (measure it and its various aspects), but that it has the feel of religion when it comes to prescribing what should be done to manage the economy. These different economic schools all require that famous “leap of faith.”

      There are many things I like about Austrian economics. But I’m not a true believer. I think of myself as a businessman with common sense and a medium-sized brain, and as a person with a heart who inhabits this earth temporarily, along with 7 billion others. So the question is: what do we need so that businesses can thrive and so that all people (not just a few) can live good lives? Amazingly, these are not contradictory goals.

      • a Texas libertarian says:

        Austin is a great city full of interesting people. It’s kind of the socialist hotspot of Texas and yet it has such a vibrant and innovative free market in food and entertainment. I love the “keep Austin weird” mentality, but I just wish they’d recognize how much they are enjoying capitalism as well. College Station, where I got my bachelor’s in engineering tech, is quite the opposite scene socially but certainly has just as much charm.

        Thanks for sharing your background, and I can appreciate your conclusion concerning the various “camps” of economics. I agree that many do seem more like a religion than a scientific approach to understanding human interaction, but if you’ll bear with me, I’d like to point out that Austrian economics, at least in the Rothbardian tradition, is different, and in fact, distinguishes itself from the other forms of economics which do require that very “leap of faith” you mentioned.

        It is true that most (if not all) modern Austrian economists advocate free enterprise unhampered by the interventions of government, but according to Rothbard, it must be understood that by doing this (taking a political stance) they are departing from the discipline of economics and adding their own personal value judgments into the mix, planting them firmly in the realm of ethics as well.

        Since economics only describes the logical qualitative consequences of human action, not what humans should do or how much, any economic stance must be backed up by a framework of ethics, especially when the concept of property rights, the foundation upon which any policy decision must be based, is considered.

        Mises himself fell for this trap by unwittingly adopting a utilitarian framework of ethics to solidify his laissez faire position, while claiming “value free” status. This was one of Rothbard’s great insights and a situation where, I believe, the student surpassed his (magnificent!) teacher. Rothbard grounded his anarcho-capitalist system within the framework of natural rights, merging the individualist anarchism of the late 19th century and the classical liberalism of the early 20th century into a comprehensive political (or anti-political) system. You may not have many anarchists reading your articles, but in me you have at least one.

        I also believe that free exchange capitalism, as opposed to our current version of Keynesian neo-mercantilist socialism, is the system that truly raises all boats, and that this fact is one of the miracles of existence. The question is how do we get capitalism back, when so much power is bent on taking more of it away?

        Gig’em Ags!

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