The journals of Kenjiro Setoue, a doctor at a clinic on a small Kyushu island, chronicle a life that is, as the doctor himself notes, for the most part, unexciting. It is difficult to believe that a version of this life has been retold — and, one has to believe, embellished — in an ongoing series of manga and also in a popular TV show.

DOCTOR STORIES: From the Island Journals of the Legendary 'Dr. Koto,' by Kenjiro Setoue. Translated and with an introduction by Jeffrey S. Irish. Science and Behavior Books, 2012, 216 pp., $14.95 (paperback)

If it's difficult to grasp how stories based on Setoue's life could thrive in media that typically favor the sensational, one quickly sees, reading the journals as edited and translated by Jeffrey S. Irish, that, in their original form, these tales from the life of a country doctor make very good reading indeed.