Week three’s thread is up:
This starts the second and final “two-week” chapter.
Week three’s thread is up:
This starts the second and final “two-week” chapter.
Just as a question, why the speedup? I find that it takes me a lot of time to read, and having to read 2 pages a day seems a bit tough, not sure I could keep up the pace.
The book clubs tend to favor a shorter number of weeks, with recent ones running eight to 13 weeks (depending on the difficulty of the material), at about 12 to 16 pages per week.
It’s difficult to find a pace that suits all first-time readers. Depending on one’s grammar and vocabulary background, some may find the pace too fast, while others may find it too slow. (The ABBC leans toward going slower.) As readers begin to understand and recognize common grammar and vocabulary, reading speed typically increases even if only a little, so it slowly gets slightly easier along the way.
This is an understandable feeling. In another book club I’m in, I’m targeting three pages per day, but was too busy to get in any reading yesterday. That means extra reading over the weekend for me to catch up, or else start falling behind. However…
…the best part is that if the book club pace is going a bit fast for you, you can continue at a slower pace.
Give yourself a set number of pages to read per day, or a set amount of time to read. This ensures you keep moving forward.
If your schedule is slower than the club schedule, you’ll find the vocabulary list is more populated and there is more discussion in the weekly threads when you get to them.
The most important thing is that you’re able to make progress and keep learning along the way, regardless of pace.
I confess I’m a little surprised this was pitched as an ABBC book…
I’ll admit I spent over half a year trying to figure between nominating for ABBC or for BBC. But seeing a lot of what’s read in BBC over that time, this seemed to lean quite a bit more ABBC than BBC to me.
Maybe we should consider keeping to a slower pace and carry on at 2 weeks per chapter. There are 9 chapters so that would be 18 weeks for the whole book. The chapters are roughly 14-18 pages each so that is 7-9 pages per week. That feels a reasonable pace for an absolute beginners book club to me, and I hear what you are saying it taking a lot of time to read when you are first starting out.
My first manga I read along with in ABBC was Shirokuma cafe. I was doing fine when the pace was 8 pages a week but got left behind when it jumped up to 16 pages per week and ended up dropping out.
It’s also slightly demotivating for me to see this pitched as “absolute beginner” material and then myself struggling so much with it. I’ve read some stuff on satori reader (or parts of the crystal hunters manga) and I had way less trouble.
To me this feels not like n+1 but like n+10 or so. I talked to some of my study buddies and they kinda feel the same. But YMMV, of course.
Satori reader is essentially a graded reader, content written specifically for learners. The vocab and grammar is specifically restricted to a certain level.
Here we are trying to read native Japanese content. Even when we pick something a 6 or 7 year old could read, it’s going to be much more challenging than a graded reader.
The good thing about this manga for absolute beginners to reading native content, is that the text is supported by lots of pictures, the text density is generally light, there are furigana on the kanji, and it is generally short spoken phrases rather than long complex sentences.
If you persevere at reading this, supported by the group and vocab sheet, it will open up a much more enjoyable selection of native Japanese content to read, which in general blows graded readers away!
On the other hand if you want to take a step back, there is a graded readers book club that gives some support in getting into those simpler texts.
If there are no issues with length, and the starting date for the next ABBC pick after this one, I can definitely maintain a two-weeks-per-chapter schedule for this series.
I think for many people getting into reading native content, especially manga, this will be the initial experience. No matter how much grammar and how many vocabulary you learn in advance, it will never seem like enough for when first starting reading. I remember experiencing the same back when I first tried (and failed at) reading the first volume of よつばと！.
I’ve also seen with others, as was my experience as well, that sticking with it and pushing through the difficult initial content, you start to get used to a lot of things that are common in spoken Japanese, yet don’t show up in typical learning-oriented materials. (I can’t comment on Satori Reader specifically, as I’m unfamiliar with its content.)
This. Manga especially can be a bit rough at the beginning, cause it’s a more casual, spoken style of Japanese that you just don’t learn in textbooks, including contractions and variants. Once you’ve ploughed your way through your first native manga, you’ll start recognising these things everywhere and it’ll become a lot easier. But you gotta bite the bullet, I’m afraid. Thankfully we’ve got a really helpful community here, who can help you with any questions you may have 頑張ってください！
My intention of reading along with the club fell apart, as I haven’t even begun reading. Due to life priorities, I’m making the call to be a super-duper slow durtle in reading this. As I still want to follow through. Hope everyone is enjoying the
agony reading .
@ChristopherFritz, from what I can see, the vocabulary sheet has not been updated from pg 23 onwards. I just want to ask if it’s ok for me to go ahead to add in the words so that others can refer to it. Is that alright? Or are you going to update it soon? Sorry for asking
The vocabulary sheet is for everyone to fill in, it’s not one person’s responsibility. ChristopherFritz just created it along with the book thread. Everyone is welcome to add their share, so please go ahead if you feel like it
Personally, I would be able to keep up with shifting to a chapter per week.
But as somebody who knows how demoralizing it is to have to drop out of a bookclub due to falling behind despite my best efforts - I’m 100% in support of sticking to half a chapter per week if thats going to help people keep up.
I’m okay with us doing 2 weeks per chapter. We can always change it again later if everyone in the book club feels like they aren’t having as hard a time making it through each chapter as we are right now.
I guess we could have a poll to settle the one week vs two weeks per chapter issue. I expect people who have already read native material would lean towards one week per chapter, but since this is the ABBC it would be nice if only absolute beginners voted, as they are the ones more likely to struggle with a faster schedule.
I’ve added a poll to the week four thread, so we can get a feel for it.
I just wanted to say that I hear you.
I struggled through my first manga, experiencing exactly what you are saying.
Your experience is (sadly) absolutely the norm and I think how everyone has to start out with native material pretty much no matter their WK or vocab level.
My first manga was からかい上手の高木さん with the ABBC in April and it was a real struggle.
I hadn’t finished genki as I found it too tedious, I didn’t understand much grammar at all, and had never seen informal or contracted forms or helper verbs.
Often it would take everything I had to figure out a single damn speech bubble!
I didn’t keep up with the schedule, the 2 pages a day was just a lot.
But eventually, a month late, I finished my first manga.
Each manga since has still been hard, but that is a huge improvement from “impossible”. Each time I see improvement. I have finished 4 manga and am 2/3 of the way through volume 2 of Demon Slayer which I’m reading without a book club.
Now I can generally get a few pages a day in before bed without it killing me. On good days I can somehow get through 15-30 pages (helped a lot by fight scenes!).
I still have to use a dictionary a lot, but less, and best of all manga reading is now fun!
Honestly, reading with the ABBC was the best thing I’ve ever done for my Japanese.
It won’t be easy, but the more you stick with it the easier it will get, even if very slowly.
It has been amazing seeing the other members of the からかい上手の高木さん ABBC in other parts of the forum - seeing everyone’s growth has been amazing.
For a long time I delayed reading manga thinking it was way beyond me (and it was).
I would create Anki vocab decks formed from the vocab sheets for past book clubs to try cram the vocab, but whenever I tried to dip my toes into “easy manga” (yotsuba) I’d just bounce right off it understanding nothing.
Pushing through it with the ABBC changed this.
Now on the other side of this, I just think back to what Cure Dolly said, the way you get better at something (after the very initial learning at least) is by doing it.
Now I think that prelearning beyond the absolute basics (hiragana, very basic sentence structure, very basic verb cunjugation*) quickly gives diminishing returns.
I do think my Anki time before reading did help, but the vocab needed to read a series without lookup is absolutely massive and pretty much noway I’ll get all of that in my head even with Anki.
The biggest benefit was likely improving my hiragana reading speed and helping me ever so slightly figure out possible word boundaries.
Since starting reading, Anki has become way more valuable, things stick much more easily as I have the context in my head.
Huge +1 to this, this is my story.
My biggest problem when starting with the ABBC was that 2 pages per day was A LOT.
I had to squeeze in every moment of time with the manga that I could into my schedule, and it was a real struggle - and I still finished a month late.
I had the same experience with よつばと some time ago. Him saying すげー in place of すごい annoyed me (unnecessarily) and I struggled with the whole book’s casual language style. Now I think I use すげー as an exclamation a lot in daily life. (despite knowing it’s a bit childish)
It’s a good metaphor for my whole experience tbh. Verb conjugation felt like an insane thing to have to learn - so I drilled it for an hour a day for months until it now just flows. Potential forms seemed insane and unnecessary and now its natural (80% of the time…). etc. etc.
I wish I’d committed to these book clubs / forums more a year ago - I think I’d be stronger reader and speaker.
Week five is up. As per discussion on pacing this, chapter is split across two weeks.
I’ll update the schedule to adjust for two weeks per chapter, keeping in mind that we can always opt to convert to one week per chapter later down the line.