I have a confession to make. Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector has taken over my life. I find myself making OMG-SO-CUTE squeaks over the vector-graphic kitties that come into my virtual yard to eat food, sit in boxes, bat at balls, and do other cat things. After only a few days, I already have favorite common cats — Shadow, Cocoa, and Spooky — and favorite rare cats — Ms. Fortune and Xerxes IX.
My obsession with mobile developer Hit-Point's smash hit isn't unique. The game has more than 5 million downloads on Google Play alone, and sports a 4.6-star rating. Book Riot tried to guess "What the Cats of Neko Atsume Are Reading," and The New York Times plumbed the depths of the mobile game's popularity.
Since I can't stop thinking about those adorable, virtual felines, I had to write about them. While I would love to tell you what books Snowball, Ginger, Pumpkin, and the rest of the Neko Atsume gang want you to read, I'm pretty sure you might stop reading before the 49-book list was complete.
So let's keep it simple, shall we? Here are 18 book recommendations for you, based on your favorite rare Neko Atsume kitties. As always, please feel free to share your mobile gaming reads — and Neko Atsume screenshots — with me on Twitter.
1. If you like Billy the Kitten, read Vengeance Road by Erin Bowman
Billy the Kitten is always ready to read a good Western, and he'd love this YA novel about a young woman who disguises herself as a man and sets out to avenge her father's death. If you love Wild West stories like True Grit, check out Erin Bowman's Vengeance Road.
2. If you like Bob the Cat, read Nothing Daunted by Dorothy Wickenden
Bob the Cat is an adventurer, just like Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamund Underwood: two young New Yorkers who traveled to the wilds of Colorado to become school teachers in 1916.
3. If you like Chairman Meow, read Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min
In Japanese, Chairman Meow is known as "Nabeneko," which means "hot pot cat." I'm still a fan of his English moniker, however, especially when Melissa McCarthy says it on Mike and Molly. No matter what name you know him by, Chairman Meow wants you to read Anchee Min's Becoming Madame Mao: a historical novel about the life of Mao Zedong's wife, Jiang Qing.
4. If you like Conductor Whiskers, read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Conductor Whiskers loves his Cardboard Train, so he'd obviously want you to pick up Paula Hawkins' transportation-centric thriller, The Girl on the Train. This murder mystery was all anyone could talk about in 2015. If you didn't read it then, now's the time.
5. If you like Frosty, read Up to this Pointe by Jennifer Longo
The cold-natured Frosty always wears a coat outside. Poor kitty wouldn't make it long in Antarctica, where Jennifer Longo's Up to this Pointe takes place. Still, I'm pretty sure Frosty would approve of this book recommendation, which follows an ex-ballerina to a research base at the farthest reach of the world.
6. If you like Guy Furry, read Love, Loss, and What We Ate by Padma Lakshmi
You can always count on Guy Furry to show up and craft delicious desserts in your Glass Vase. He recommends that you add Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi's food memoir, Love, Loss, and What We Ate to your TBR.
7. If you like Joe DiMeowgio, read The Sweetheart Season by Karen Joy Fowler
The women in Magrit, Minnesota have a post-war problem: the boys they waved off to war came home, but not to them. The local mill owner and cereal magnate forms a women's baseball team, Sweetwheats Sweethearts, and encourages his female employees to join in order to attract husbands.
8. If you like Kathmandu, read The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon
Kathmandu looks like Heian Period nobility, so it's only fitting that he suggest an account of that time and place for you to read. The Pillow Book is a compilation of poetry and observations from Sei Shonagon, who served Fujiwara no Teishi as a court lady. Shonagon was a contemporary and rival of the more famous court lady, Murasaki Shikibu, who penned The Tale of Genji.
9. If you like Lady Meow-Meow, read Tales from the Back Row by Amy Odell
Lady Meow Meow's English name might be a play on Lady Gaga, but her look is all Anna Wintour. In Tales from the Back Row, Cosmo's Amy Odell takes readers behind the scenes at the biggest NYC fashion shows. Along the way, we meet the famously aloof Wintour, along with Rachel Zoe, Chelsea Handler, and more.
10. If you like Mr. Meowgi, read Smile at Strangers by Susan Schorn
Mr. Meowgi likes to hone his skills in your Neko Atsume yard. If you could use guidance from sensei, check out Susan Schorn's Smile at Strangers, which details how becoming a double black belt in karate helped the author conquer her anxieties and fears.
11. If you like Ms. Fortune, read The Good Luck Cat by Lisa Warren
If you're a fan of Japanese food, you definitely recognized Ms. Fortune when she wandered into your Cardboard Café. She's a maneki-neko, and she'd love it if you read Lissa Warren's The Good Luck Cat. This heartstrings tugger centers on Ting: an adopted cat with a heart condition that only a radical operation can repair.
12. If you like Peaches, read Capricious by Gabrielle Prendergast
Although she's not technically a rare cat, Peaches is kind of the Holy Grail of Neko Atsume kitties. Her picky personality and low power rating make her difficult to keep in your yard. If she's your favorite anyway, check out Gabrielle Prendergast's Capricious. This YA sequel follows a high school senior who decides to be radical and maintain secret relationships with two boys.
13. If you like Ramses the Great, read Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
It's always cool to have Ramses the Great show up in your yard, and I'll bet he's reading this Michelle Moran novel while he chills in your Pyramid Tent. Nefertiti examines the relationship between Akhenaten's famous bride and her sister, Mutnodjmet, who wishes to marry for love and not politics.
14. If you like Saint Purrtrick, read Brigid of Kildare by Heather Terrell
Obviously, Saint Purrtrick is based on Ireland's most famous saint. But Ireland has other famous patrons, not the least of which is Saint Patrick's contemporary, Saint Brigid. Heather Terrell's novel, Brigid of Kildare, shifts between 5th century Ireland and the modern day, where an expert examines a reliquary box that may change the Catholic Church's history.
15. If you like Sassy Fran, read Kawaii! by Manami Okazaki
Sassy Fran's roots lie in Japanese maid cafés. If you aren't familiar with this history, and you're still confused as to how Japan comes out with Neko Atsume and every other adorable thing, check out Kawaii!: Japan's Culture of Cute.
16. If you like Senor Don Gato, read Reserved for the Cat by Mercedes Lackey
Senor Don Gato is based on Puss in Boots, but I'm betting you already knew that. Mercedes Lackey's novel, Reserved for the Cat, centers on the relationship between a Parisian dancer and a psychic cat, who introduces her to a hidden underworld of magic and intrigue.
17. If you like Tubbs, read Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
When your Neko Atsume food bowls are empty, you can almost certainly bet that Tubbs was behind it. If you love this Snorlaxian kitty, check out J. Ryan Stradal's novel about food and the people who love it: Kitchens of the Great Midwest.
18. If you like Xerxes IX, read Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji
From what I know, Persia never had a Xerxes IX, but that doesn't stop this Neko Atsume kitty from living the high life on your Zanzibar Cushion. There's no better way to celebrate this regal Persian than by reading a novel set in Iran, and Mahbod Seraji's Rooftops of Tehran — a love story set against the backdrop of political unrest in 1970s Iran — is a great place to begin.